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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite threats of a presidential veto, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to restore the 40-hour workweek under the federal Affordable Care Act.
The 252-172 tally on what is known as the "Save American Workers Act" came late Thursday afternoon. However, the vote was short of the 290 needed, assuming all members voted, for the two-thirds majority required to override a veto by President Barack Obama.
Officially, H.R. 30 amends "the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 30-hour threshold for classification as a full-time employee for purposes of the employer mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and replace it with 40 hours."
According to The Associated Press, President Obama's 2010 health care law is phasing in a requirement that companies with more than 50 full-time workers must offer health care coverage or face penalty payments to the government.
The workweek definition has been split among party lines. Backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, Republicans say defining full-time employees as those working at least 30 hours is pressuring firms to save money by cutting workers' hours and diminishing the number of full-time jobs.
House Republicans say boosting the standard to 40 hours would protect those workers and named their bill the Save American Workers Act. They cited a study by the conservative Hoover Institution showing 2.6 million workers are at risk of having their hours reduced by the 30-hour minimum, including disproportionately high numbers of female, low-income, younger and less-educated workers, according to the AP.
The White House and Democrats, with support from labor and liberal groups, contend this measure is the latest attempt by Republicans to scuttle Obama's health care law. The House has voted more than 50 times to repeal or roll back parts of that law since Republicans took control of the chamber in 2011, the news outlet added.
Democrats say changing the full-time threshold from 30 to 40 hours would make fewer workers eligible for employer-provided health coverage and put more of them at risk of losing that coverage from companies looking to cut costs.
The measure's fate is less clear in the U.S. Senate, where majority Republicans will need at least six Democratic votes to get the 60 needed. The AP report added that Senate GOP leaders have not said when the bill will be debated.