WASHINGTON ― As moderate Senate Republicans push to slow down an Obamacare repeal, they are are finding common ground with one of their most unlikely allies in Congress: House conservatives.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus emerged from their weekly meeting in the basement of Tortilla Coast on Monday night and urged House GOP leadership to delay a possible vote on the repeal of Obamacare that was expected to take place Friday.
“We just need to slow down the process so that we can understand a little bit more of the specifics, the timetable, replacement votes, reconciliation instructions, etc.,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C) told reporters.
Informed that GOP leadership was considering a vote as early as this Friday, Meadows said that, without details on what a replacement would look like, the Freedom Caucus would encourage a delay.
“It’s like saying, ‘I’m going to get in that taxi and make good time, but I don’t know where I’m going,” Meadows said. “I want to know where I’m going.”
House conservatives have expressed reservations about language in the Obamacare repeal that says it would be “appropriate” to add $9.7 trillion in debt over the next decade. Although GOP leadership insists it isn’t a real budget ― just a vehicle to allow the repeal to pass by a simple majority in the Senate ― the Freedom Caucus was expected to discuss what concessions they might demand from House leaders on Republicans’ true budget blueprint later this year.
But concerns that conservatives don’t know where Republicans are headed on a replacement in general for the 2010 health care law dominated the discussion.
“If they’re asking us to bite off bigger budget numbers, you got to be a little bit more specific about what you’re putting in the vehicle,” Freedom Caucus member Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) told The Huffington Post on Monday night.
“I got to see what you’re committed to, where you’re going to roll this thing back. I’m not interested in building a TrumpCare 2.0,” he said.
Gosar said that a number of conservatives were concerned about the differing stories on what a replacement would look like. He said a repeal without a better sense of its replacement might have trouble finding 218 votes in the House.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Republicans are facing a similar mutiny over similar concerns.
Nine GOP senators have expressed reservations about repealing Obamacare without first agreeing to an alternative. And Monday, five of them introduced an amendment to the budget resolution that would extend the date for committees to write a repeal bill from Jan. 27 to March 3, with the additional month potentially giving Republicans enough time to come up with and agree to the broad strokes of a replacement.
GOP leaders in both chambers have been pushing to repeal major parts of Obamacare as fast as possible, partly so that Republicans don’t get bogged down in the details of a replacement. That strategy of first creating a greater need to come up with a replacement before actually coming up with a replacement is starting to look more in doubt.