Leading Republican congressmen are now on record admitting they do not support clean Obamacare repeal (even though several of those interviewed voted for it under President Obama), and the reasons given include preference for “regular order” and concern for the uninsured.
Last week, a discharge petition was introduced by Rep. Tom Garrett, which overrides previous Obamacare votes and would require the entire Congress to hold a fresh vote on clean Obamacare repeal (without replacement language.)
Ranking Texas congressmen were asked how they felt about such a move. Representatives Randy Weber and Brian Babin approved, but several others voiced their disapproval for the discharge petition and advocated repeal only if accompanied by replacement legislation.
Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, told me:
After more than 200 Congressional hearings and more than 80 hours of open debate and deliberation in Committees and on the House floor, House Republicans delivered on our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare when it passed the American Health Care Act in May. The Senate’s failure to act is a letdown, but we must continue to look for solutions to rescue the American people from this failing law.
But the discharge petition would throw the matter back in the House and do an end-run around the Senate, again making Congress (the people’s chamber) the responsible party.
Brady, along with others, do not support discharge petitions and view them as tools of the Democrats. “Discharge Petitions are used by Leader Nancy Pelosi to circumvent regular order,” Brady explained.
“I support regular order in the House. That is, drafting legislation in the Committees through an open and transparent process — based on hearings, research, etc. — and ultimately sending legislation to the House floor for a vote after it has been approved by the Committee,” he continued.
Brady is also on record supporting replace as a condition of repeal:
[Delaying replace] doesn’t achieve what President Trump set out to do, which is to not only repeal the damaging effects of that law, help people who are trapped in it right now – we are seeing it collapsing in front of our eyes…
Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, who voted two different times for clean Obamacare repeal, spoke with me:
I support either outright repeal or repeal and replace. No, I don’t think repeal alone would have passed the House. In fact, repeal alone failed in the Senate today. But whatever the Republican plan, it will have fewer government mandates and provide more choice for the American people.
In Smith’s statement is an admission that the House — controlled by Republicans — would not vote for clear repeal like it did only a year ago, and again a year before that. On the issue of discharge petitions, Smith declined to comment.
Texas Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling, also spoke to me, and was more direct — condemning discharge petitions on Obamacare repeal:
Yes, I always have and always will support the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and the most important vote so far in this effort was passage of the American Health Care Act in May. I have never supported discharge petitions in the past as they are designed to be tools for the minority party.
Hensarling, like Chairman Brady, believes use of discharge petitions to be beneath Republicans — a tactic of the “minority party.”
Some may wonder if reconciliation and closed-door sessions might not also be confused with the tactics of the minority party.
“Most importantly, however, the House held up its end of the bargain when we passed the American Health Care Act, and it’s now incumbent on the Senate to follow through. That’s squarely where the focus and energy needs to be right now,” Hensarling continued.
Texas Rep. Randy Weber is one exception to the litany of repeal (only with replace) feedback received from the Texas congressional delegation. “I do support full repeal and I do support the discharge petition,” Weber told me.
Texas Rep. Brian Babin spoke to me, and went on record reaffirming his support of clean repeal:
The number one issue when I ran in 2014, was ObamaCare. I’m a healthcare provider myself, in private practice and also in the U.S. Air Force. I ran on the platform of repealing and replacing ObamaCare. Many of my colleagues ran on the exact same platform. ObamaCare is an abject disaster. The premiums have skyrocketed an average of 105 percent across the country. Paying for your ObamaCare policy for working-class Americans now is like making a mortgage payment.
“Usually people have a hard time even using the policy,” he continued. “I think what Tom Garrett is doing is the correct way to go and I’ve asked to be on his discharge petition and I would like to cosponsor,” Babin remarked on the issue of discharge petitions.
By and large, the biggest justification for the evident Republican cognitive dissonance on the issue of Obamacare repeal, is that so many Americans will lose their healthcare insurance if the promise to repeal is kept.
In actual fact, even the CBO — the agency used to prop up the scare tactics of the Democrats and their Republican counterparts — admits in its own data that fewer than several million will lose insurance, and these individuals are eligible for Medicaid or are illegal aliens.
The reason? Over 15 million people signed up for Obamacare because of the mandate; they will drop out because they no longer face a financial penalty for doing so. That’s 73 percent of the total Obamacare insured.
Before Obamacare was passed, the Democrats wrongly claimed that there were “46 million uninsured.”
“46 million of our fellow citizens have no coverage. They are just vulnerable. If something happens, they go bankrupt, or they don’t get the care they need,” Obama then remarked.
Who are the 46 million and are they really going to be without coverage? 9.7 million of this number are illegal aliens. 14 million Americans choose not to obtain coverage. 18 million are under 34 and are either dependents or simply opt not to seek insurance, according to one study. [Translation: they’re young and healthy.]
When these numbers are subtracted, only 5 million uninsured remain.
Even without the public option, which doesn’t really insure anyone (it promises access to failing “markets”) everyone can still receive care — even if they cannot pay. That is why 60 hospitals in California have closed, because the law requires them to treat everyone.
Conservative voters have long suspected that Republican members of Congress are lying about Obamacare repeal, and that, in spite of being given power, they would manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory.
“When Democrats win, they take power. When Republicans win, they take office,” a famous conservative once said.
That may be true in the case of the current majority running Congress.