The attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare has not been easy, despite Republicans running on the issue since 2010 and holding
majorities in the House and Senate, plus the White House. This single issue gave the Republicans the House in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and the Presidency in 2016. Now, the lack of action on the issue is threatening to hand over seven years of hard work to the Democrat Party.
A freshman Member of Congress is not taking this lying down. Normally a freshman is told to sit back, be quiet, and maybe in 10 years we will let you do something. Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) is showing no fear by diving head first into the DC swamp to fight for what he and so many others were elected to do.
Garrett announced plans to introduce a discharge petition for H.R. 1436, the repeal of Obamacare through the reconciliation process introduced by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). H.R. 1436 is the same legislation that repealed most of Obamacare that passed the House and Senate in 114th Congress, H.R. 3762, introduced by then Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.). President Obama vetoed the bill and Republicans could not garner the support to override the presidential veto.
A discharge petition is a procedure to move a bill out of committee without the committee voting on it. A bill can have 350 cosponsors, but if leadership does not want the legislation out of committee, it is not going to get out of committee. Many in leadership do not like the discharge petition because it takes the power out of their hands.
Garrett introduced H.Res.485 on Wednesday night. The resolution will sit in the Rules Committee for seven legislative days. After seven legislative days, the discharge petition will be introduced on the House floor. Once the petition is introduced, it is up to each member that wants to support the initial bill, H.R. 1436, to go on the House floor and sign the petition. Once the petition reaches 218 signatures, it is then brought to the floor for a vote.
Garrett stated in his press release, “The House should lead with an ncremental approach by supporting a clean-repeal bill and then enter into replacement negotiations. As such, I just initiated a seldom-used parliamentary procedure to advance H.R. 1436 through a discharge petition. The overwhelming majority of my Republican colleagues cast their vote in support of this legislation in 2015, and I have faith they will do nothing short of that now”
Garrett made the announcement at a press conference on Wednesday. However, he was not alone. At his side, were members of the Freedom Caucus and conservative heavy weights such as Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
Garrett even addressed the issue of a replacement bill, which has been the sticking point for much of the GOP, stating in his remarks, “This is not a full repeal and nothing, it’s a full repeal with two years, 24 months, to phase out, to find a replacement.”
This is a brilliant move by Garrett and the Freedom Caucus. The bill has already passed the House and Senate once, and should easily pass again. The petition will also let the voters know where their representatives stand when the vote counts.
When the bill was passed in 2015, it was assumed the President would veto it. The President’s veto gave cover to the representatives that ran on repealing Obamacare, but really didn’t want to. By supporting the discharge petition, the representatives are supporting the 2015 bill with a chance it could be signed.
Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning praised the move saying, “It’s time for GOP Members of Congress who’ve been in office for years to listen to Rep. Garrett, a freshman, who remains in close touch with his constituents. Every Republican House member should be racing to sign the discharge petition when it hits the floor.”
Who says freshman members of Congress can’t do anything?