A hardline conservative group of about three dozen members of Congress, known as the House Freedom Caucus, introduced Wednesday a petition to bring a clean Obamacare repeal bill to the floor of the House of Representatives.
The bill, which is essentially a copy of the Obamacare repeal legislation that passed the House in 2015, will go to the House floor only if the petition, formally known as a “discharge petition,” can receive 218 signatures.
While unlikely to result in concrete law, the introduction of such a measure is meant to intensify pressure on both House and Senate Republicans to move forward on repealing and replacing Obamacare.
“[The discharge petition] is the first step in a multilayered process to make sure that we get a vote and finally deliver what we’ve been promising the American people for a long time,” said House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows of North Carolina.
“We’re about choice, we’re about freedom and we’re about keeping our word,” said Congressman Tom Garrett of Virginia, who formally introduced the measure on Wednesday. “We’re about absolutely letting the people at home … know that there are still some people here who are going to do what they said they would do.”
Garrett went on to clarify that the bill would be a repeal, but would also give members of Congress 24 months to find a replacement. This would buy more time for Republicans to coalesce around health care legislation that would be desirable to all factions of the GOP.
This petition comes shortly after the future of any Senate health care legislation was put into question earlier this week, as GOP senators could not seem to agree on either a repeal or replacement option to rid of Obamacare.
Republican senators are still hopeful they can get their own health care legislation passed, though, especially following a White House meeting on Wednesday.
“There is no question that the president’s meeting today added a lot of momentum toward getting to a result,” Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told reporters Wednesday. “It feels like there’s a lot more momentum around voting on a replacement. That’s where all the energy is being placed, is on the replacement component.”
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