The top two House Republicans signed onto two petitions to force votes to repeal Democrats' healthcare reform law in its entirety.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said they had signed onto discharge petitions set to be offered by members of their conference, one of which would seek to repeal health reform in its entirety.
Boehner and Cantor said they'd back discharge petitions by Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Wally Herger (R-Calif.), a method to force a vote in the House. A majority of the House — 218 members — must sign onto a discharge petition, though, to force a vote, meaning that a vote on repeal in the House would be a steep climb.
"The House should immediately vote on and pass legislation that would implement the will of the American people with respect to the president’s healthcare law," the pair added.
While the Republican leaders' support for the petition may well end up being symbolic, it's squarely a part of the GOP's election-year messaging against the healthcare reform. Boehner has called repealing health reform the top priority for Republicans if they should retake control of Congress this fall.
"Washington Republicans have made clear time and time again that their number one priority is repealing health care reform. But have they thought about what it would mean for the American people?" asked Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the chairman of House Democrats' campaign committee. "Repealing health care reform would be a big win for special interests, but it would be bad news for working families and the future of our country."
Boehner and Cantor's support also stakes out an aggressive position behind full repeal of the health reform law. King's petition would repeal parts of the healthcare reform law that originated in the Senate, while Herger's petition would repeal all of the healthcare law and the reconciliation bill.
The GOP has consistently maintained that any effort to repeal the bill would be replaced with Republican ideas on reform, but there's been internal debate since Obama signed reforms into law in March over whether or not that requires a full repeal of the bill.
"Either course of action would begin to implement the will of the people with respect to ObamaCare," Boehner and Cantor explained. "We are committed to repealing ObamaCare and replacing it with common-sense reforms that will lower healthcare costs for families and small businesses, and both petitions move us closer to that goal.”
Updated 12:39 p.m.