The House Freedom Caucus, formed in January by the most conservative members of the lower chamber, are assembling a small group tasked with designing an Obamacare alternative in order to "influence the main House working group," according to The Hill
Louisiana Rep. John Fleming is leading the group, which will consist of four or five legislators, and is "open to the possibility" of Sen. Ron Johnson’s idea of extending subsidies if the Supreme Court rules that federal subsidies received by millions of Americans in at least 34 — and possibly 37 — states that do not have their own exchange are illegal.
The most conservative faction of the GOP only favors a subsidy extension for a very brief period.
Johnson’s plan calls to extend the subsidies through August 2017, "when he hopes there will be a Republican president, while also repealing the law’s individual and employer mandates," according to The Hill.
The House Freedom Caucus debated Johnson’s plan and its time frame for some 30 minutes this week, the publication reported, and at least one member, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, called it "a bad idea" to continue subsidies, particularly for such an extended period.
"There may have to be some transition period," he said. "But the transition period that people are talking about is more like within the year rather than three years."
Johnson’s bill has 31 Senate co-sponsors, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In the House, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan is leading a group that members of the House Freedom Caucus complain is "meeting in secret."
Since Ryan’s group is at work formulating an Obamacare replacement, Fleming said there is "no reason why we shouldn’t be working on our ideas."
"Ultimately whatever they come up with has got to be passed, so they’ll have to run that by us, and if we have better ideas, we can either [exchange] it or we can amend it," he said, adding that he could only support subsidy extensions if there was a clear expiration date at the end of 2016 or the first half of 2017.
In January, Politico
reported the formation of the House Freedom Caucus, whose mission statement is to give a voice to Americans who feel Washington doesn’t represent them.
"We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans," the caucus’s mission statement reads.
Its founding members were Fleming, Amash and fellow Reps. Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Matt Salmon of Arizona, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, Ron DeSantis of Florida and Mark Meadows of North Carolina.
They said at the time that they would invite 30 lawmakers to join, noting that if they have at least 29 members it would position them "to block Republican legislation that members don’t support."
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