House votes to take first step in dismantling the Affordable Care Act

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U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) introduce Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH), Representative Jason Smith (R-MO) and Representative Luke Messer (R-IN) as new members of the House Republican leadership team after their caucus held leadership elections on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX2TUMR

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) introduce Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH), Representative Jason Smith (R-MO) and Representative Luke Messer (R-IN) as new members of the House Republican leadership team after their caucus held leadership elections on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. on Nov. 15, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Congress has approved the first step toward dismantling President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Republicans have pushed a budget through Congress that provides an early but crucial victory in the effort.

The budget prevents Democrats from using a Senate filibuster to derail a bill annulling and replacing the law. That’s critical because it takes 60 votes to end filibusters, while Republicans have a 52-48 Senate majority.

The real work lies ahead. Republicans must decide which parts of Obama’s statute to erase, what a new version should look like and how to protect 20 million people getting health coverage under the 2010 law.

The House approved the budget Friday by a near party-line 227-198 vote.

The Senate approved the measure Thursday. It does not need the president’s signature.

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