The effort to repeal Obamacare was already on shaky ground, but the Freedom Caucus may have just killed it dead by drawing a line in the sand that some Republicans may not be willing to cross.
The Flying Monkey Caucus voted last night to oppose any repeal bill that is weaker than what they passed before.
The group of roughly 35 to 40 House conservatives voted to take this official position ― meaning it received the support of at least 80 percent of the members and is therefore supposed to be the position of all lawmakers in the group ― amid some GOP consternation that Republicans ought to focus more on repairing the law rather than repealing it, as well as amid heavy voter pressure in many districts to leave the law intact.
“If it’s less than the 2015 [bill], we will oppose it,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told a small group of reporters Monday night.
What this means is the Freedom Caucus will oppose any bill that does not fully repeal the law, including a full repeal of Medicaid expansion.
There's been almost no talk of repealing Medicaid expansion over the past month because doing so would be a goddamn catastrophe for the economy and for many states governed by Republicans. Some Republican governors, such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin, have even expressed interest in expanding Medicaid now that President Obama is out of office. Republicans want that sweet federal cash for their own districts.
Moreover, there's been almost no talk of bringing back pre-existing conditions or no longer allowing children to remain on their parents' insurance until they're 26, because those provisions also affect many Republican families, but the Freedom Caucus wants to get rid of that, too.
There's virtually no way for the Republican party to do what they say they want to do. They say they want to keep certain provisions, but they also want to repeal the mechanisms that fund those provisions.
Repealing and replacing the law would be immensely difficult even without the possibility that a third of your own caucus would vote against it because it doesn't go far enough. Congressional Democrats gained seats in the 2016 election and the House Republican majority is too narrow to afford a significant defection of Flying Monkeys. And if Republicans want to pass a bill without the Freedom Caucus, they will need Democratic support to do it.
There's a remote possibility House Republican leadership will cave and give the Batshit Caucus what they want, but in that event it's also unlikely that the Senate will go along with it even if a full repeal of the law could survive a filibuster.
Meanwhile, Republicans aren't even attempting to go through the appropriations process this year and may not ever again. They apparently intend to fund Trump's fantasy border wall and pass sweeping tax reform while repealing and replacing Obamacare, but I honestly have no idea how they plan to do all of that and I suspect they don't have any idea either.
The continuing resolution that currently funds the federal government will expire in less than 2 months and at that time Republicans will have made no progress toward passing a budget for the next fiscal year which begins on October 1st.
Republicans are incapable of governing.