GOP conservatives in House try again to kill Obamacare
Freedom Caucus petitions for vote to repeal law in 2019.
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.