In 2015, Congress passed Obamacare repeal. Now, a replica bill has sat unaddressed in committee since March 8th and there’s a path to getting it to a floor vote quickly.
The Trump spin mill has been in overdrive since House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the abysmal first attempt of the new administration and Congress at the promised “repeal and replacement” of Obamacare.
The Trump administration and the media sold the American Health Care Act as the last best hope for repealing Obamacare, which is a complete joke. The idea that Republicans in the House and Senate, who have largely run on Obamacare repeal in the last seven years, would suddenly give up because a bad bill didn’t pass is absurd.
Since the AHCA was presented and recognized for the dud it was, there has been an incredulity that after seven years of doggedly campaigning against Obamacare, Republicans weren’t unified and ready with a bill to repeal it.
So, now what?
That’s what many in the Republican caucus and outside interest groups are asking following Friday’s events.
Many have astutely pointed out that Congress passed a repeal bill in 2015, so why aren’t they simply doing the same now?
Alas, unknown to many, a replica of the 2015 bill was introduced by Rep. Jim Jordan (R – Ohio) on March 8th, just two days after the disastrous AHCA.
Rep. Jordan, a member of the much derided House Freedom Caucus, reiterated the familiar words of many Republican candidates across the country just before introducing H.R. 1436:
“Our goal is real simple: Bring down the cost of insurance for working families and middle-class families across this country. In an effort to do that we think you have to get rid of Obamacare completely. So tomorrow I will introduce a bill that every single Republican voted on just 15 months ago – the bill that actually repeals Obamacare. Our plan has always been repeal in one piece of legislation and replace in the other.
That’s right. The bill Rep. Jordan introduced earlier this month is a replica of the 2015 bill that passed in the House and Senate less than two years ago.
The bill has been languishing in committee ever since. However, there is one way it could move to consideration on the floor should an ambitious representative choose to take it on.
After a bill has been in committee for a certain period of time, a discharge petition can be circulated, which is privileged, to bring a bill out of committee and to the floor. But it must have a majority of the House. After the AHCA debacle that may seem unlikely, but consider the fact that this bill already passed in the last Congress. Repeal is the one thing a majority ostensibly agree upon.
There have been and will be endless autopsies over what went wrong with the AHCA, but one could insist that Republicans first post-Trump foray into Obamacare repeal didn’t have to go down the way it did.
Conservatives and the House Freedom Caucus took early blame for the AHCA’s passage or failure, even though moderates and the Tuesday Group became august denouncers of the bill as negotiations progressed. However, the HFC was asking for nothing less than what had passed in 2015.
“Conservatives expect nothing less than congressional Republicans to live up to their promises,” Jason Pye of FreedomWorks told RedState. “They passed this bill in the 114th Congress. Why can’t they do it now? This is the one aspect of this we all agree on, and it’s certainly a better option than the half-baked bill that leadership rolled out that didn’t really repeal ObamaCare.”
“But what about after repeal,” one might ask. “[H.R. 1436] gives us two years to work on a replacement that is grounded in real patient-centered, free market principles,” Pye stated.
What a sensible and prudent, but apparently novel, idea.
Rushing a replacement to Obamacare is asking for failure, as we saw with the AHCA. Pushing the bill through committee before the Congressional Budget Office gave it a score and having GOP leadership married to the bill already was poor planning, to say the least.
A clean repeal is what Republicans have been promising the American people for seven years. A clean repeal bill is sitting in committee, ready to go through the same process it breezed through in 2015 but in which the AHCA failed. As has been said before here, should Republicans fail to adequately reduce the cost of health care and increase access by repealing — and replacing to a degree — Obamacare, they will be seen as the biggest scammers in American politics for a generation.
The 2015 repeal bill is there, let’s pass it.