After publicly airing some of their grievances with the GOP’s current strategy of repealing Obamacare without a replacement plan, a handful of Republican senators put their concerns in legislative writing. Five senators on Monday evening introduced a measure that would delay the next steps on repealing the Affordable Care Act by more than a month. The senators, in their statements accompanying the provision, said the delay would buy Congress more time to work out of the the details of a replacement.
“This amendment will ensure that we move forward with a smart, responsible plan to replace the law as quickly as possible,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) in a statement announcing the measure. He was joined by Bob Corker (R-TN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Cassidy (R-LA.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in introducing the proposal.
The proposal would amend the budget resolution currently being considered by the Senate that is supposed to act as a vehicle for the Republicans’ repeal effort. The budget resolution as it now stands directs the relevant committees in the House and Senate to come up with the actual repeal legislation that will be passed through the process known as reconciliation, which requires only a majority vote in the Senate. The budget resolution, which was introduced last week, gives the committees until Jan. 27 to submit their repeal bills for the next steps in the legislative process.
In contrast, the amendment introduced Monday evening would extend that deadline until March 3, so that the incoming Health and Human Services secretary (likely Georgia GOP Rep. Tom Price) has “adequate time to review what the Trump administration can repeal and replace administratively versus legislatively, and ensure that Congress puts in place a responsible timeline for replacing the law,” according to the amendment’s press release.
On the House side, rank and file members have expressed a desire to slow the process as well. After a meeting Monday evening at Tortilla Coast, a restaurant near the Capitol, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, said that there was an “overwhelming consensus” among the group of conservative hardliners that they’d like to see more specifics about the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare before voting on the budget resolution, which is expected to be up for a vote in the House this week.