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18 Democrats join GOP to restore 40-hour work week under Obamacare

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Obamacare,House of Representatives,Health Care,France,Minimum Wage

Facing withering pressure to stick with the president and block any GOP effort to change Obamacare, 18 Democrats crossed the aisle to join Republicans Thursday in replacing the 30-hour work week with the traditional 40 hours, a major boost to small businesses.

Voting 248-179, the House passed Indiana Republican Rep. Todd Young’s “Save American Workers Act,” which repealed Obamacare’s 30-hour definition of full-time employment.

Going into the vote, Young had nine Democrats supporting the legislation and in the end 18 joined to define a work week as 40 hours. Democratic leaders leveled intense pressure on members to stick with President Obama’s preference of 30 hours.

Business and restaurant lobbies argued that forcing firms to offer insurance to employees who worked just 30 hours, considered part-time, would be too costly. As a result, they planned to cut hours below 30 hours and dump full-time workers.

Young said that the law was hurting blue-collar Americans desperate for every hour they can work. In an interview before the vote, he said, “I always understood that 40 hours was the standard work week.”

What’s more, he said, “even the French have a 35-hour work week and they’re considering increasing it.”

Young’s main Democratic co-sponsor, Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski said in a statement, “Ask most Americans and they will tell you that a full-time workweek is 40 hours, not 30 as defined in the Affordable Care Act. If left unchanged, an unintended consequence of the ACA would be a reduction in take-home-pay for millions of hard-working Americans. Many families would suddenly be forced to make financial decisions they shouldn’t ever have to make, or find another part time job to try and make up the difference.”

Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., added, "The 40-hour work week has been in place for decades, and the ACA’s redefinition hits entry-level and lower income workers the hardest. I support this effort in the House to stop the unintended consequences of the ACA and look forward to the Senate doing the same.”

Young said that he hopes the vote will spark similar action in the Senate where a version of his bill also has bipartisan support.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.