LOS ANGELES — The Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would block the government from funding the Affordable Care Act for three months, effectively killing the GOP effort to repeal the law.
The measure was supported by a majority of Republicans and is expected to pass the House and be signed by President Donald Trump on Thursday.
It is the latest in a series of legislative actions that have been aimed at shutting down the government.
The Senate’s version of the bill would bar the government until March 27, 2020, and prevent the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from making payments to insurance companies for any services they have covered under the ACA.
The move would prevent millions of Americans from getting care or treatment, and would also make it harder for insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
The bill is also a victory for Republicans who had been seeking to defund the ACA after Republicans failed in a July 16, 2017, attempt to repeal it.
But some Democrats are now demanding the government stay open for at least a week and said it would leave many people uninsured.
“The Republicans are dead, they can’t afford to have a government shutdown,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday.
“The American people have demanded it for years.”
The House passed the same bill in early March.
The vote was the first time the GOP-led House had successfully stopped the ACA from going into effect.
It was approved in both chambers of Congress and sent to the president’s desk for signature.
The measure comes as the GOP is trying to negotiate with Democrats over whether to reopen the government in a deal that could lead to billions in savings from Medicare and other spending cuts.
Republicans are working on an alternative to the healthcare law that would defund the law but do not defund the funding that was promised in the Senate bill.
Democrats have criticized the bill, saying it would make it easier for Republicans to block funding for the ACA in exchange for promises that the legislation would not cause the government to shut down.
The GOP is expected on Thursday to begin debate on a replacement to the bill.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R – Wis.) said on Wednesday that he was confident Republicans would pass the bill in the end.
“We’re going to finish the work that’s been done,” Ryan said, speaking on Fox News.
“This is a long-term deal that’s going to address a lot of the concerns that have existed for years and years.”