WASHINGTON – Despite an almost certain presidential veto of the first Obamacare repeal bill to make it to the White House, a group of conservative congressmen strongly defended the measure but indicated they may differ with Republican leaders on what a GOP health care plan would look like.
“Anytime you make someone in elected office take a stance it’s incredibly valuable,” said Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., disputing the notion that the vote is just political theater. Republicans had tried to pass the measure more than 60 times, but were expected to finally succeed on Wednesday by putting in a bill that could not be filibustered by Senate Democrats.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said an Obama veto would show the president likes “a law that’s not working.”
At a monthly discussion sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation, the eight congressmen said a veto would make a clear distinction between Republican and Democratic positions on the issue, but there does not seem to be one unified GOP stance on how they would craft a new health care program if President Barack Obama’s expected veto was overridden by Congress, which is unlikely.
A potential replacement for Obamacare could shape up to be another dividing line between House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and more conservative Republican lawmakers, some of whom say they are already frustrated with Ryan.
“Everything he’s done is no different from what (former House Speaker) John Boehner has done,” Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said. “But he has a year to make it up.”
While Ryan has in the past pledged to bring an alternative to the health care system to the floor by the end of 2016, the congressmen said that an alternative is unnecessary.
“Obamacare has deteriorated what was the best health care system in the world,” said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., who supports the free market as the most effective way to handle health care.
Labrador framed it as an issue of conservative principles. “Replacing Obamacare is just replacing it with another government-run system, and I think some of us as conservatives don’t want to see the government running that,” he said.