Tags: Barack Obama | Healthcare Reform | obamacare | repeal | john boehner | conservatives | house

House Conservatives Fear Leaders Retreating From Obamacare Repeal

By    |   Monday, 27 April 2015 04:00 PM

House conservatives, worried that Republican leaders are becoming soft on repealing Obamacare, are pushing them to make some kind of move to clarify their intentions on the matter.

Last month they backed the budget in order to spare the leadership another showdown with the party's right wing, under the belief that the plan could help them push through an Obamacare repeal, reports Politico. 

Conservatives want to push the bill through with a fast-track procedure called reconciliation, which would allow the Senate to pass legislation through a simple majority rather than with 60 votes, and say they thought the GOP leadership was on board with the plan.

But while the House and Senate were hammering out their compromise budget in the past few weeks, it became clear to conservatives that the House leadership was talking about leaving options open on Obamacare, including fixing it, not repealing it.

"It’s imperative that [Obamacare repeal] be the focus for our reconciliation instructions," Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, said at a Heritage Foundation event last week.

There have already been more than 50 votes in the House over defunding, altering, or overturning Obamacare, and as yet another try would likely fail, GOP leaders appear to be moving on. But conservatives say forcing a veto out of President Barack Obama would be a symbolic message that they haven't stopped trying to repeal the law.

Jordan was an integral part of getting the House budget passed, and pointed out that "we told the voters time and time again, we are committed to getting rid of this law."

He called for his fellow lawmakers to "keep this thing front and center in the political debate, put it on the president’s desk [and] actually make him veto it."

The House and Senate conferences could announce a budget deal as early as Monday, but reconciliation has been a key sticking point. On the Senate side, budgeters say they want the drastic measure taken only for a repeal vote, but the House version of the bill gives reconciliation authority to more than a dozen committees.

Meanwhile, House leaders say they want to employ "flexibility" when looking beyond repealing Obamacare.

"We haven’t gotten specific directions; no one has come out and said we’re definitely going to do this," said Rep. John Fleming, R-La., a Freedom Caucus member. "Whenever it's discussed, it’s 'these are the various things we could put into [reconciliation],' and the first one is always the repeal of Obamacare. But no one has ever come out, that I’m aware of, and said, point-blank, 'Obamacare is going to be it.'"

But House Speaker John Boehner's office said it is more important to get a budget passed, as without an agreement there is no way to get repeal legislation to Obama's desk.

Leaders are also waiting to see how the Supreme Court rules in the King v. Burwell case, which could outlaw tax subsidies on plans obtained through federal exchanges.

Millions of people could lose the subsidies if the court rules against them, and Republicans may be blamed if there is no replacement for their health insurance, which could create real problems coming into the 2016 election season.

Reconciliation could also allow Republicans to approve a fix for Obamacare, by forcing Obama's hand rather than leaving millions of people without coverage, but conservatives say they don't want to save the president's legacy plan at all.

"I don’t think King v. Burwell is the magic bullet," said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C.

"The overwhelming majority of folks at the [Freedom Caucus] meeting — and we have 40 members — believe that Plan A has to be reconciliation to pass a repeal."

But Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores of Texas said his fellow Republicans are split over what to do if the Supreme Court invalidates the subsidies.

"There’s not a good consensus at this point," Flores said, adding that he’s not interested in replacing the subsidies.

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House conservatives, worried that GOP leaders are becoming soft on repealing Obamacare, are pushing them to make some kind of move to clarify their intentions on the matter.
obamacare, repeal, john boehner, conservatives, house
Monday, 27 April 2015 04:00 PM
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