Freedom Caucus founding member Raul Labrador of Idaho said Wednesday that House leaders do not have the votes to pass a White House-backed plan to repeal and replace Obamacare and should not bring it to the floor for a vote by the full House Thursday as scheduled.
"I don't think it would be wise for them to move forward," the Republican lawmaker told Capitol Hill trade publication CQ. The best approach, he told the publication would be to "take it easy, take it slow, go through the process and see how much we can actually do. I think we can accomplish a lot if we do it that way."
The most conservative Republican lawmakers oppose the plan put together by Republican leaders and the White House, deriding it as "Obamacare-lite." GOP opposition to the Obamacare repeal bill is organized by the House Freedom Caucus, which controls enough votes to sink the bill. The caucus has 29 members total and the GOP can afford to lose only 21 votes and still achieve the 216 votes need to pass the bill, assuming Democrats remain united against the bill.
Early Wednesday evening the Rules Committee continued to meet to set rules Thursday's planned vote and White House spokesman Sean Spicer dismissed suggestions the vote would be canceled when he met with reporters Thursday afternoon.
Failure to pass the package as approved by the House Way and Means, Energy and Commerce and Budget Committee in recent weeks would be a major embarrassment for House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump as both have lobbied hard for he package in the past two days and have offered revisions aimed at luring conservative support.
The House legislation repeals many of the taxes and mandates imposed to help pay for Obamacare and would establish tax credits and expanded healthcare savings accounts as the mechanism for replacing ACA subsidies that have made it more affordable for individual consumers to purchase coverage on state health insurance exchanges. The plan also phases out the ACA's expansion of Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor.
Revisions offered up Monday night allow the Senate to revise the tax credit provisions, presumably by making them more generous, for older, low-income individuals. That provision was aimed a luring more support from GOP moderates in both the House and Senate. For conservatives, the House leadership added a provision that will prevent states that haven't already signed onto Obamacare's Medicaid expansion from doing so now.
The Affordable Care Act's taxes would also be repealed more quickly than under the draft passed by the House Budget Committee last week. Also added were new work rules for the Medicaid program and an option for states to receive Medicaid block grants. More restrictions on the use of taxpayer funds for abortions were added. And, in New York state, county governments were allowed to shift Medicaid costs to the state.
But the Freedom Caucus remains unsatisfied by those changes. Among the changes they continue to seek: a repeal of the ACA's mandated minimum benefits for insurance plans, assurance that any Obamacare replacement will lead to lower insurance premiums.