March 27, 2017
Nobody said repealing Obamacare would be easy. And after Friday afternoon, there's no shortage of opinions on what Republicans could have done better. But just because leaders struck out with this version of the American Health Care Act doesn't mean the conversation is over. In fact, if there's one thing the GOP agrees on, it's that the issue is still very much alive. "Everything's on the table," said the White House's Reince Priebus. "We'll give these guys another chance."
While President Trump shifts gears to tax policy, House and Senate Republicans have been clear: "This is not the end of the fight." Nor should it be -- considering that this debate is about one-fifth of the U.S. economy and the well-being of millions of American families. The best way forward in repealing Obamacare is to look back at what has worked. As FRC and other conservatives have said since the beginning, it's time to put their feet on the trail they blazed in 2015 and pass the same budget reconciliation bill Congress put on President Obama's desk. The whole point of that exercise was to prove it could be done. If House and Senate leaders are looking for consensus, what better place to find it than a measure that already passed? The only thing that's changed since 2015 is that they finally have a president who will sign it!
As House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) has said, "To suggest that we can pass it in 2015 and that it's more difficult to do it in 2017 makes for a very difficult argument for anyone on why they've changed their position and were willing to vote for it then and aren't willing to vote for it now." He's right. Either members were on board with the proposal or that was just an exercise in political posturing. If it was a messaging tool, as one member suggested to me, they failed to tell that to the voters.
Americans believed the GOP was serious about uprooting the worst mistake of the Obama years enough to give them the keys to Congress and the White House. Now is the time for Republicans to deliver. If that means holding some members' feet to the fire, so be it. There's absolutely no excuse for not supporting a budget resolution that identical to the one passed by Congress 14 months ago. What's more, it gives both sides a chance to regroup on an alternative to Obamacare that appeals to everyone. Repeal first, replace next. It's the strategy House and Senate leaders have rehearsed for a year and a half. Why deviate now?
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.