With no certainty Monday night that Senate Republicans have enough votes to pass a budget resolution that includes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the most conservative members of the House met in the basement of a Capitol Hill Tex-Mex restaurant to discuss their own Obamacare strategy.
Chair of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said there was “overwhelming consensus” among members that the budget measure – still under debate in the Senate – doesn’t yet offer enough specifics about how Republicans plan to overhaul Obamacare and the timing of when a replacement law would roll out.
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Meadows said the Freedom Caucus took no votes during the private meeting at Tortilla Coast near the U.S. Capitol – a frequent gathering spot for the nearly 40 conservative lawmakers who make up the caucus.
“No official positions at this point, other than we believe any (budget) reconciliation – repeal and replacement – needs to happen in the 115th Congress,” said Meadows, who is from western North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District.
He and other Republican lawmakers who left Monday night’s Freedom Caucus huddle said they want more specifics about what will replace Obamacare and how long it will take to implement the new law.
The caucus, Meadows said, will ask House Republican leaders to “slow down the process” of getting the budget resolution – known as a budget reconciliation measure – to the floor for a vote. In the Senate, Kentucky’s Sen. Rand Paul was the only Republican to oppose the chamber moving forward on debate on the resolution.
Last week, Paul met with Freedom Caucus members and asked for their support in the House to block the measure – which some, including U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., on Monday, have called merely a “vehicle” for repealing Obamacare and laying out other spending details but not a “real budget.”
Sanford told reporters Monday he was still unsure how he’d vote on the budget resolution but said it presents an immediate opportunity to get rid of Obamacare.
“This is the only train leaving the station for a repeal of Obamacare,” Sanford said.
Meadows, though, suggested it shouldn’t be the only option for repeal.
If a budget “vehicle” to set the legislative groundwork for repealing Obamacare isn’t specific in outlining what Republicans propose to put in its place, Meadows said Freedom Caucus members largely aren’t likely to support it.
“Why vote for a vehicle without having the specifics of what you’re going to do,” he said. “We hope (Republican House Leadership) would see the prudence of waiting.”