House conservatives are launching a late effort to force their colleagues to vote on an outright repeal of Obamacare.
Leaders of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus on Wednesday evening will jump-start a process intended to force the measure — a mirror of the 2015 repeal proposal that President Barack Obama vetoed — to the floor as early as September.
The idea, sources say, is to create pressure on GOP leaders in the House and Senate — ensuring Republicans don’t give up on their seven-year campaign promise.
“There’s no reason we should put anything less on President Trump’s desk than we put on Obama’s,” said Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). "President Trump wants to sign repeal — it’s time Congress send it to him."
Their effort is unlikely to result in a bill landing on Donald Trump’s desk — many Republicans have rejected calls to eliminate the core of Obamacare without having a comprehensive replacement plan ready. But if the group garners enough signatures to trigger the floor vote, it would force many mainstream and moderate Republican lawmakers into the uncomfortable position of rejecting a repeal measure they backed just two years ago.
Meadows and Jim Jordan will have the backing of conservative outside groups, like Club for Growth and FreedomWorks. The Club and activist group Tea Party Patriots launched a website Wednesday called “Obamacare Repeal Traitors” to pressure senators who opposed the latest GOP efforts to replace Obamacare. The senators’ defections have all but derailed Republican efforts to replace the 2010 health care law.
The Freedom Caucus strategy begins with a technical push to force the 2015 repeal measure to the House floor. Meadows and Jordan are seeking a “discharge petition,” which would enable them to bypass House leaders to put the bill up for a vote. To begin that process, the lawmakers plan to file a special rule Wednesday evening to consider the proposal. That rule will sit in the Rules Committee for at least seven business days.
After seven days, lawmakers can file a discharge petition, which requires signatures from at least half the House – 218 members – to bring the bill to the floor. They’re unlikely to succeed, but the effort would quickly identify which Republicans rescinded their support for the 2015 bill.
The group could receive some support from conservatives in the Republican Study Committee, who talked during a Wednesday meeting about asking GOP leaders to allow them to vote on a repeal-only bill before recess.
The push by House conservatives has grown more urgent in light of the apparent failure by the Senate to adopt an Obamacare replacement plan. The House narrowly passed its own version in May, but Senate efforts collapsed this week, after moderates rejected the plan’s deep reductions in Medicaid funding.