Exclusive—Rep. Jim Jordan on the Obamacare Discharge Petition: ‘No Other Path to a Vote on Clean Repeal’

Freedom Caucus Chairman and member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is interviewed at the conclusion of the hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Former Freedom Caucus Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that the only way to push towards a clean repeal of Obamacare is through the discharge petition.

On Wednesday, the Freedom Caucus filed a discharge petition that would put a clean repeal bill of Obamacare before the House floor. The discharge petition would require 218 signatures from members of Congress to force the House to vote on the bill.

Jordan explained to Breitbart News why House conservatives continue to push for a clean repeal of Obamacare. Jordan revealed:

Because we actually believe in doing what we told the voters what we said we would do. I say this all the time, but we make our jobs too complicated, we said we would repeal Obamacare, we should repeal Obamacare. We wanted to do it right from the get go, and we introduced the clean repeal legislation back in March. Now that there’s this stalemate in the Senate, we think that it makes sense to do what the President said, what Senator McConnell said, what Senator Sasse said, what Vice President Pence said, and do what we all said last year during the campaign and that’s a clean repeal.

Rep. Jim Jordan continued, explaining how they plan to get the 218 votes necessary to bring the clean Obamacare repeal bill before the House floor:

We plan to talk about it. The American people are with us, you can see by the elections in 2010, ’14, and ’16 they’re with us. We know this law has to go away. We know we have to get rid of it and repeal it and replace it. Let’s get rid of it and replace it. You know there’s a year and a half phase down on this and it won’t take into effect until December 2018 so we have the time to do the replacement. We’ve already picked up a number of co-sponsors already and next week will pick up signatures on the discharge of the legislation. With each signature we get closer to 218, that’s when it starts to build and hopefully the leadership will say let’s bring up this bill and actually have a vote.

The Ohio congressman revealed that the House leadership and Speaker Paul Ryan were not interested in a clean repeal of Obamacare. Jordan told Breitbart News:

We talked to leadership beforehand and asked them the stall in the Senate, and we asked why don’t you just bring up clean repeal. They said they wouldn’t do that, we asked them several times why won’t you bring up clean repeal. They said they won’t bring that up they don’t think they have the votes. I said I think I disagree with that everyone voted for this last Congress why would they would they vote for it now? I think it’s a different question when you actually have the bill on the floor and you have to make a decision. But they said they wouldn’t pick it up. So I called the Speaker yesterday morning and said that we will start this process.

Jordan continued, telling Breitbart News why the Freedom Caucus decided to use the discharge petition to bring the bill before the House floor, a parliamentary procedure that Congress has not used since deployed that measure to revive the Export-Import Bank in 2015. The former Freedom Caucus chair admitted:

It’s all we got left. It’s all we got left. There is no other way. If our leadership won’t bring it up, even though we told the American people we would repeal Obamacare, if they’re not willing to bring it up, and particularly in the light of the stalemate that’s in the Senate, if they won’t bring up the bill there is no other path to a vote on clean repeal of Obamacare in the House of Representatives. Hopefully, if we can get the signatures and convince our leadership to bring it up, we can pass it and then it sends a message to the Senate. That helps build momentum for what we told voters we would do if they elected us.

Jordan explained that first repealing and then replacing Obamacare will force moderates and Democrats to work with conservatives. Jordan said:

This could be what jumpstarts everything. Democrats always say, ‘Oh it’s time to come together and figure things out.’ Well there’s no way to come together and do a bill that’s repealing Obamacare. Let’s repeal it first, fix our healthcare system. Let’s sit down, Republicans and Democrats, we want things that we know will bring down costs that will help families like association health plans, interstate shopping for insurance, bigger health savings accounts, more transparency in the pricing for healthcare, all of those things that we know will help Americans. And folks on the moderate and Democrat side, they’re going to want additional dollars for Medicaid, and changes to Medicaid, and how we deal with the opioid crisis. Ok, that’s how you make a trade, but, you can’t make a trade until you repeal Obamacare.

Congressman Jim Jordan said that House Republicans could have pushed for a clean Obamacare repeal from the beginning of President Trump’s presidency. However, the House leadership and Speaker Paul Ryan decided to go with a plan that many conservatives branded “Ryancare” and “Obamacare-Lite.” Jordan charged:

We all thought that was going to be the case. Remember, before inauguration day, we all said  let’s put this repeal bill on President Trump’s desk on his first day in office. Everyone assumed that Obamacare repeal legislation was going to be what we voted on last Congress, what we put on President Obama’s desk. But no, our leadership came up with a different strategy with some repeal and some replace and deviated from what we passed last Congress. We should have done the plan that we all expected, but unfortunately that was not the plan that was taken.

When we voted for that budget in January it was the vehicle to do Obamacare repeal, we all assumed that it was the plan that the Freedom Caucus rolled out, which was the clean repeal legislation that I introduced and the replace legislation that Congressman Sanford introduced. When they rolled out the House leadership’s bill, remember, there was no debate, it was considered a binary choice, no amendments in committee, you got to take it or leave it, no actual witnesses came to testify, they went straight to markup, that was the bill. This was not what we talked about. Now, we fought hard and we made that bill better and wound up supporting it, but it was far from the Freedom Caucus plan. We wanted to repeal Obamacare from the get-go.

Jordan concluded, “Let’s hope we can pass this Obamacare repeal bill. Let’s hope we can. It’s never hurts to do what you would say you would do. It never hurts to keep your word. Let’s keep our word here. Let’s repeal and then replace Obamacare. That was our position from the get-go. It’s the right thing to do.”

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