By Mike Lillis
Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.) on Tuesday filed a discharge petition aimed at forcing the House to vote on repeal of the Democrats' new healthcare reform law — the second such GOP effort this year.
The first petition, sponsored by Rep. Steve King (Iowa), made headlines after GOP leaders — including House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and Republican Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) — showed an early reluctance to endorse the measure.
They won't attract the same attention this time around: Both Boehner and Cantor have already signed onto the Herger measure.
"The more the American people learn about ObamaCare," Boehner said in a statement, "the less they like it. We need to repeal it, and start over on common-sense, step-by-step reforms to lower costs."
Still, the issue has caused something of a rift in conservative circles over the Republican strategy for attacking the Democrats' healthcare law. The King proposal would repeal the reforms outright; Herger's legislation would repeal the law and replace it with a Republican alternative.
Some conservatives have slammed GOP leadership for potentially dividing the Republican caucus over the issue.
"Notice that Cantor and Boehner were absolutely silent on Rep. King’s efforts until they had Wally Herger’s discharge petition ready to go," Red State's Erick Erickson wrote in June. "Why? Because they want to bully Republican House members into signing the Herger petition and undercut the repeal effort with a '[repeal] and replace with lame legislation' effort.
"In effect," Erickson added, "this undercuts a unified repeal effort and muddies the waters."
The discharge petition, which requires 218 signatures, allows lawmakers to circumvent both the committee process and House leadership by pulling legislation directly to the floor.