Freedom Caucus wants more ObamaCare repeal details before budget vote

Freedom Caucus wants more ObamaCare repeal details before budget vote
© Greg Nash

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus said Monday night they want more details about the ObamaCare repeal and replacement process before voting on a budget.

Republican leaders are moving ahead quickly with a vote on the budget, the first step toward ObamaCare repeal — but now the Freedom Caucus wants to slow down.

"We just need to slow down the process so that we can understand a little bit more of the specifics of the timetable, replacement votes, reconciliation instructions, et cetera," said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the Freedom Caucus chairman, upon leaving a group meeting at Washington’s Tortilla Coast restaurant on Monday night.

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Meadows reiterated that the Freedom Caucus believes repeal and replacement needs to go into effect during the 115th Congress, meaning it should take no longer than two years. Some other Republicans are talking about a longer transition period of perhaps three years.

The length of the transition period is one of the details Republican lawmakers want clarified before voting on the budget. Another detail, mentioned by Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), is whether any replacement elements will be included in the initial repeal bill.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynO’Rourke not ruling out being vice presidential candidate O'Rourke mulling another Senate run as well as presidential bid Texas senator introduces bill to produce coin honoring Bushes MORE (R-Texas) said earlier Monday that was possible, though gave no details on which elements might be included.

The Senate is set to vote this week on the budget, which sets up a fast-track process called reconciliation that can be used to repeal ObamaCare, and the House could quickly follow. But the Freedom Caucus wants to slow down.

"We would hope that at this point they would see the prudence of wanting some more specifics before they call a vote," Meadows said of leadership.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The 10 GOP senators who may break with Trump on emergency On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 MORE (R-Ky.) met with the Freedom Caucus last week to call for opposing the budget altogether because of its higher funding levels. The Freedom Caucus did not go that far, seeming to accept the idea the budget is simply a vehicle to start the process of repealing ObamaCare.

But that's where more details on the ObamaCare process come in.

"Since indeed this is not a budget, it's a vehicle, we want to understand what it's a vehicle for," Meadows said.

Separately, a group of five Republican senators on Monday called for slowing down the process in another way, delaying the date of putting forward a repeal bill until March to allow more time to work on a replacement. 

"By providing more time to come up with legislative solutions, we have a better opportunity to produce a thoughtful, workable replacement that ensures Americans have access to affordable, diverse insurance plans that meet their needs," Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTexas GOP rep opposes Trump’s use of national emergency to get border wall GOP Sen. Collins says she'll back resolution to block Trump's emergency declaration Talk grows that Trump will fire Dan Coats MORE (R-Maine), one of the five senators, said in a statement.