House Republicans have voted more than 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act since the bill became law. Those votes were largely symbolic, given the certainty that President Obama would veto any such legislation reaching his desk.
Now that Obama's presidency is no more, and the GOP controls both chambers of Congress, it's a whole new ballgame.
Earlier this month, as reported by Reuters, the House voted 227-198 to begin the repeal of Obama's “signature piece of legislation,” instructing various committees to draft legislation to begin the process.
It's “Play ball!” time.
As the process begins in earnest, though, there's a 500-pound gorilla in the room — the House Chamber, as it were. The nanosecond that one word of Obamacare is changed, it becomes Trumpcare. No longer will the Democrats own it; it will all be on the Republicans.
With that realization weighing on their minds, Congressional Republicans held a private meeting on Thursday morning during their retreat in Philadelphia.
Perhaps “freaked out” is a bit hyperbolic, but worried? Yep. Concerned about the consequences and fallout of getting it wrong? You bet.
As reported by Politico, many of those in attendance “agonized” over how best to repeal and replace Obamacare, as President Trump has pledged will happen concurrently.
An audio recording of the meeting received by Politico revealed some of that “agony,” including that of House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX).
“I hate to think we’re going to keep going down this road that says, ‘You have to do it now! Now! Now! Now! Now!,’ and then wake up and say, ‘What did we do?’”
According to Politico, Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) shared the same fear.
“We’re telling those people that we’re not going to pull the rug out from under them, and if we do this too fast, we are in fact going to pull the rug out from under them."
The threat to defund Planned Parenthood was of particular concern to Rep. John Faso, (R-NY), who called the proposal a “giant political trap.”
“I think we’re making a great mistake in putting this Planned Parenthood provision in the health care bill. We are arming our enemies [...] I just urge us to rethink this.”
Faso even worried about the potential for Trump to pull the rug out from underneath them.
“The other thing I’d like to know from the administration is: We’re not going to have a tweet from the president [saying] ‘we should protect planned parenthood.’”
Speaking of Trump, in early January, he encouraged Congressional Republicans to hang tough against a potential Democrat onslaught:
Anyway, at one point, Education and the Workforce Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, (R-NC) had heard enough, lambasting her colleagues for losing their gumption:
“I couldn’t believe a week or so ago that I heard there were people getting weak-kneed on the repeal. “My God! We all ran repealing Obamacare! What is wrong?”
Foxx even quoted one of her mother's old sayings to make the point.
“Sometimes people don’t have enough backbone to do what they’re supposed to do and you need to put a broomstick up their back."
Thing is, they're all right.
Republicans have confidently vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare from the get-go. Many of the people in that room ran for election on that very pledge. The concerns revealed on the leaked audio are valid. As is Rep. Foxx's admonition that some are becoming “weak-kneed.”
Although, “weak-kneed,” in this case, could also mean “sobering up to the reality that once we change it, we own it” lock, stock, and barrel.