Chamber of Commerce didn't back ObamaCare repeal bill

When the House GOP made its latest attempt to repeal ObamaCare this week, dozens of groups, from Americans for Tax Reform to the National Association of Manufacturers, cheered the move. 

But one organization was missing from the list of groups that had supported the bill: the Chamber of Commerce.

The country’s best-known business association this week decided not to endorse the bill by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), which earned support from all but three House Republicans.

The Chamber’s stance on the repeal bill is indicative of an increasingly popular view among conservatives — that the best approach to ObamaCare is fixing the law instead of putting on a political show.

“The U.S. Chamber is forced to live in the reality that President Obama will veto any wholescale repeal effort of his signature health care law. It is therefore our focus to give the business community meaningful relief where we can from this onerous law,” a spokeswoman for the chamber, Blair Latoff Holmes, said.

But while the Chamber and some party centrists want the GOP to move onto more realistic changes to the law, more hard-line members insist that they should not back down on a full repeal.

“This is probably the most important issue among my constituents and a lot of constituents in both houses of Congress,” Byrne said in an interview last week.

While Holmes said the Chamber still “adamantly” opposes the law, it believes lawmakers should focus on changes they can actually make to ObamaCare. She said changes to the employer mandate and the health insurance tax, for example, would give relief to individuals and businesses more quickly than waiting for President Obama to leave office.

That’s a vastly different stance from groups like the National Retail Federation, which threw its support behind Byrne's bill as well as several other House bills to repeal the law.

“Improving and fixing the ACA [Affordable Care Act] remains challenging at best, and finding real relief from the law’s burdens is elusive. We believe the best course of action would be to repeal the ACA in its entirety,” David French, the group’s chief lobbyist, said.

The rollout of ObamaCare has put business groups like the Chamber of Commerce in a tough spot. It represents both small businesses that are facing a bevy of new taxes and the hospitals that are seeing a flood of new federal dollars from the expansion of Medicaid.   

A spokesman for Byrne, the bill's sponsor, said the Chamber had not been asked to add its name to the list of supporters, and the group said it does not have an official stance on the bill.