The House’s second-ranking Republican said his party will do everything to "delay and defund" the healthcare reform law, but there is still no timeline for how quickly the GOP will work on a replacement effort.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters Tuesday afternoon that his party will employ delaying and defunding tactics if Wednesday’s vote to repeal the reform law goes nowhere in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has already pledged to block the repeal bill.
"We will do everything we can to delay and defund provisions of the bill so we can get some discussion going on how to replace it," Cantor said.
Democrats have been critical of the GOP’s plan to repeal the reform law without having a specific plan to replace one of President Obama's key legislative achievements. In particular, Democrats over the past few weeks have been highlighting the reform law’s numerous consumer protections, which would be stripped away if repeal succeeds.
Cantor was unable to predict when Republicans will propose an alternative to the reform law. The House will vote on a resolution Thursday that instructs several committees to consider replacement pieces.
"The Speaker has insisted — and I’m in full agreement — that we’re going to have a process on the efforts to shape an alternative, a replacement bill," Cantor said. "The committees need to get up and running before the debate begins."
On Tuesday, a Department of Health and Human Services report said up to 129 million individuals with pre-existing conditions will benefit from the reform law’s ban on insurers' discrimination against such patients. Democrats have been emphasizing the report on Tuesday to build support for the reform law.
Cantor said the new report shows that the GOP’s effort to replace the reform law is "imperative," saying that a Republican proposal on high-risk pools from last Congress would have extended healthcare options to people with pre-existing conditions.
"Let’s just say this — Republicans care about healthcare,” Cantor said. “We want to do it in a way that lowers costs, increases access and emphasizes the doctor-patient relationship, none of which we feel the ObamaCare bill does.”
Cantor also challenged Reid to allow a vote on the Senate floor.
“If Harry Reid is so confident that repeal will die in the Senate," Cantor said, “he should bring it up for a vote.”