Freedom Caucus to try to force ObamaCare repeal vote
© Greg Nash

Members of the House Freedom Caucus will try to force a vote on legislation repealing ObamaCare, which the GOP-controlled Congress previously passed under President Obama.

Freedom Caucus members have been pushing for a straight repeal of the healthcare law since efforts to repeal and replace it at the same time came to a halt in the Senate this week.

Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) filed a special rule on Wednesday to start the process of triggering a vote, a GOP aide said. The measure will have to wait at the House Rules Committee for at least a week, meaning any vote wouldn’t be until after the August break.

"This is a message to House leadership that we support their best efforts and we want to work with them to continue to move the ball forward to do what we all said we wanted to do," Garrett said at a press conference with other Freedom Caucus members.

"This is a message to the Senate that if they act as Leader McConnell has suggested that they act, we have their backs, we will be here. This is a message to the president of the United States that we haven’t abandoned the fight, nor have we relinquished our desire to fight for the promises we made."

The legislation would delay repeal for two years to give lawmakers time to craft a replacement plan.

The House and Senate passed similar legislation to repeal the healthcare law in 2015, but with the assumption that then-President Obama would veto it. Many Republicans are now wary of repealing ObamaCare without any alternative ready to address the healthcare system.

House members are scheduled to leave for the monthlong summer recess at the end of next week.

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The procedure being used by Freedom Caucus members, known as a discharge petition, requires at least 218 signatures to trigger a vote.

Even if it doesn’t attract a majority of House members, the measure will serve as a way for outside conservative groups to track which Republicans still support repealing ObamaCare after campaigning on it for the last seven years.

"We should put on President Trump’s desk what we put on President Obama’s desk. We should demand no less," said Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). 

As the Freedom Caucus announced the move, the Congressional Budget Office released a report estimating that repealing ObamaCare without a replacement would result in 32 million people losing their health insurance over the next decade, as well as premiums essentially doubling over the same period.

If the Freedom Caucus is successful in forcing a vote, centrists who are wary of repealing the law without a replacement plan ready would be put in an uncomfortable position.

Twenty mostly centrist Republicans voted against the House GOP version of the repeal-and-replace plan in May. Only one Freedom Caucus member, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), voted in opposition because it didn't fully repeal the law.