House GOP paves way for fast-tracking potential healthcare vote
© Greg Nash

House Republicans voted Tuesday to give themselves flexibility to rush through their legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare later this week.

GOP leaders are still scrounging for enough support to pass their revised healthcare plan and haven’t scheduled any floor vote yet.

But in the event GOP leaders convince enough of their members to endorse the bill, they’ll have the option of fast-tracking a vote through Friday.

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The procedure approved in a largely party-line vote on Tuesday waives a rule requiring the House to wait at least one day before taking up a measure produced out of the House Rules Committee, which determines how legislation is considered on the floor.

Two Republicans voted with Democrats in opposition to the procedural vote.

Waiving the rule is known as “martial law” and is typically only reserved for tight deadlines, like avoiding an imminent government shutdown.

It is not normally used for major legislation that doesn’t face a pressing deadline, like overhauling the nation’s healthcare system.

Republican leaders invoked martial law back in March in an effort to push forward with a vote near the anniversary of former President Obama signing ObamaCare into law in 2010. They ultimately canceled a vote when it became clear it didn’t have the support to pass.

Republicans are trying to revive the bill after centrist Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and conservative House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) negotiated an amendment allowing states to apply for waivers from two ObamaCare provisions. 

Under their proposal, states could get waivers for the law’s requirements preventing insurers from charging sick people higher premiums and for minimum insurance coverage provisions.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is not expected to have an analysis ready in time if GOP leaders bring up the legislation for a vote this week. That means lawmakers won’t have an independent analysis of how the proposal could influence insurance markets if it gets a vote in the next few days. 

The CBO score for the GOP’s original healthcare bill estimated that it would result in 24 million more uninsured people over the next decade.

GOP leaders also tried to rush the March floor vote before the CBO issued a final analysis of an amendment that would have repealed ObamaCare’s minimum insurance coverage requirements.

The Hill’s whip list showed at least 22 Republicans were publicly against the revised legislation as of Tuesday afternoon. That’s the maximum number of defections GOP leaders can afford. More could come as dozens of other Republicans remain undecided.