GOP con­ser­va­tives in House try again to kill Oba­macare

Free­dom Cau­cus pe­ti­tions for vote to re­peal law in 2019.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Alan Fram

Con­gres­sional con­ser­va­tives be­gan an up­hill fight Fri­day to force a fresh House vote this fall on eras­ing much of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health care law with­out an im­me­di­ate re­place­ment.

But the ef­fort by the House Free­dom Cau­cus seemed to have no chance of pass­ing Congress.

The GOP-led Se­nate turned down a sim­i­lar re­peal-only bill last month, and top House Repub­li­cans have lit­tle in­ter­est in re­fight­ing a health care bat­tle they were re­lieved to put aside af­ter their cham­ber ap­proved leg­is­la­tion in May.

With the party’s re­peal ef­fort col­laps­ing last month in the Se­nate, the con­ser­va­tives’ push gives them a fresh chance to show their sup­port­ers that they have not sur­ren­dered.

It also pro­vides a chance to call at­ten­tion to Repub­li­can law­mak­ers who spent years pledg­ing to tear down Obama’s law but have not done so with Don­ald Trump in the White House.

“It’s not about call­ing out any­one, it’s about do­ing what we said,” said Rep. Jim Jor­dan, R-Ohio, a Free­dom Cau­cus leader. “And I do think peo­ple de­serve to see if their mem­ber of Congress is go­ing to do what they cam­paigned on.”

The con­ser­va­tives filed a pe­ti­tion call­ing for a vote on leg­is­la­tion that would dis­man­tle Obama’s law ef­fec­tive in Jan­uary 2019.

They say that would give Congress time to en­act a re­place­ment and pres­sure Democrats to cooperate, a premise Democrats who op­pose the re­peal ef­fort re­ject.

To force a House vote, con­ser­va­tives need the sig­na­tures of 218 law­mak­ers, a ma­jor­ity. That seems like an up­hill task be­cause many GOP mod­er­ates op­pose an­nulling Obama’s law with­out a re­place­ment, and all Democrats are op­posed.

The re­peal-and-re­place bill the House ap­proved in May failed to gain trac­tion in the Se­nate.

Asked how House Speaker Paul Ryan views the con­ser­va­tives’ push, spokes­woman Ash­Lee Strong said, “The House has al­ready passed a plan to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare.”

Per­haps fur­ther damp­en­ing sup­port for an­other vote was a na­tional poll, re­leased Fri­day by the Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion, that found less than a third of Amer­i­cans want to see the re­pealand-re­place ef­fort con­tinue, and that about four-fifths want the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to take ac­tions that help Obama’s law func­tion prop­erly rather than try­ing to un­der­mine it.

At the same time, Democrats have be­gun us­ing the is­sue to chal­lenge vul­ner­a­ble House Repub­li­cans, send­ing a bus em­bla­zoned with the words “Drive for our Lives” to con­gres­sional dis­tricts where polling shows Democrats are com­pet­i­tive in next year’s midterm elec­tions.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jor­dan, R-Ohio, is a Free­dom Cau­cus leader.

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