Some of the most conservative (read: batshit) House Republicans are beginning to get a bit antsy and slowly coming to the realization that a full repeal of Obamacare is slipping away from them.
No one in the Republican caucus can say how they will repeal Obamacare or what they will replace it with, but some members of the Freedom Caucus are insisting that they vote on something -- anything -- before it's too late.
“I, too, am frustrated with the pace,” said Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. “America needs to know what we stand for. We should vote on something.”
“We should get a plan together that we all, at least we can vote on and decide where we have the votes and where we don’t and where we need to do some work and what policies we can agree upon. And I think the failure to do that over the last four years has caught us somewhat flat-footed,” Perry said.
"I’m hearing a lot of members say that they want Obamacare-light. And that’s not what we promised the American people," [Representative Raul Labrador] said. "I’m very concerned about the things I’m hearing in the conference because they’re different than the things I’ve heard over the last six years."
The "Obamacare-light" Labrador refers to is most likely a reference to the Republican governors who are asking for Medicaid expansion money now that President Obama is out of office. There are also Republican governors who are rightly concerned about what will happen if hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people in their states lose coverage. Ohio Governor John Kasich has been the most outspoken Republican governor on this issue because over 700,000 people in Ohio are covered by Medicaid expansion.
What Labrador is hearing in conference meetings is different than that we've heard over the last six years because it's their show now. It's their responsibility. If they kick millions of people off their healthcare, it's all on them.
We can already see a very familiar dynamic emerging where the Freedom Caucus refuses to vote for "Obamacare-light" and congressional Republican leadership relies on Democratic votes to pass whatever it is they go with. That itself may give Democrats the leverage they need to ensure that Obamacare survives.
The longer this continues, the more likely it is Congress will do nothing. Public opinion will continue to sour against repealing Obamacare and we'll inch ever closer to the mid-term election cycle.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan continues to insist that congressional committees will begin holding hearings on legislation any time now, but I'm skeptical that Ryan himself has any idea what to do. And in any event, hearings are barely the start of the process of reorganizing our entire healthcare system.
If they rush the process and push something through shortly after they hold initial hearings, it will be a catastrophe.