House backs Davis' bill for veterans

WASHINGTON — Rep. Rodney Davis passed his second standalone piece of legislation this week, a measure that exempts veterans from businesses' full-time employee count if they already receive health insurance from the Department of Veterans Affairs or they are reservists covered under TRICARE.

The bill, HR 3474, is known as the Hire More Heroes Act and is designed to give small businesses another incentive to hire veterans and relieve those small businesses from the Affordable Care Act.

The measure passed 406-1. The only no vote came from Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

It now goes to the Senate, where Davis spokesman Andrew Flach said there is hope for more success.

"Based on how quickly these bills made it through the House and based on what the president said in the State of the Union about his willingness to make changes if we bring them forward, then I think this has a pretty good chance," Flach said.

Davis, in a prepared statement, said that passage of the bill "shows that bipartisanship still exists in the House of Representatives."

"We know offering health care is costly for small businesses, and the employer mandate in Obamacare has forced many to delay hiring, cut hours and in some cases reduce their payroll at a time when our economy is struggling to recover," Davis said.

Davis' bill had 37 co-sponsors, including four Democrats, among them Rep. Dan Lipinski of Chicago.

Two other pieces of legislation, which also bypassed committee votes and expanded exemptions under Obamacare, were approved by the House on Tuesday. Such so-called "suspension votes" need 287 votes to pass, more than a simple majority.

One bill, H.R. 3979, was designed to ensure that volunteer emergency services workers don't have to be offered a health insurance plan.

The more significant measure, sponsored by Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, is called the Equitable Access to Care and Health (EACH) Act, H.R. 1814. It would permit people to avoid buying health insurance under Obamacare if they could cite a religious reason.

People seeking an exemption would have to include sworn statements in their tax returns explaining their objection to health insurance.

The EACH Act is important to Davis, Flach said, because he represents the nation's only Christian Science college, Principia.

Davis' other successful piece of legislation was to name the new I-70 bridge over the Mississippi River the "Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge." It was approved last June, 395-2.

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