The House Freedom Caucus on Friday filed a petition aimed at allowing lawmakers to vote on a "clean" Obamacare repeal bill that Congress passed in 2015.
If the so-called discharge petition receives 218 signatures, a simple majority in the House, it would remove the bill from committee and force a floor vote on the second or fourth Monday of the month. Sponsors are hoping the signatures are in place by September.
The petition to discharge was filed during Friday's pro-forma session and will remain at the House desk until it has the signatures it needs to force a floor vote.
In a statement, Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C. said it was critical for lawmakers to keep their promise to repeal Obamacare and "replace it with a policy that works for American families." The group is pushing for the vote after the Senate failed last month to advance any bill to partially repeal Obamacare.
"We cannot drag this process out any longer," he said. "This bill – with a two-year delay on implementation of repeal – will force Congress to come together on a replacement bill. President Trump is eager to sign repeal and replace, it's time we get to work and send both to his desk."
The bill is the same one that Congress passed and was vetoed under former President Barack Obama in 2015. It would have delayed the repeal of Obamacare for two years as lawmakers work to come up with a replacement plan.
The bill failed to pass the Senate as an amendment last month, with seven GOP senators voting against it, including six who had voted in favor of the legislation in 2015.
"This is an effort by House conservatives to force a vote on the bill most already supported before, but also to get members on the record for or against clean repeal," Alyssa Farah, spokeswoman for the House Freedom Caucus, said in an email.
The House Freedom Caucus is the group that worked to bring more conservative members to an agreement on the House-passed GOP healthcare bill. Its members have long supported the "repeal and delay" approach, and both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have endorsed this approach as an alternative if Republicans are unable to come up with an immediate replacement for Obamacare.
The measure is not expected to move forward, but it has some support, including by Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker, of North Carolina.
"Republicans already sent this bill to the president in 2016, and should do it again," he said in a statement. "The only thing that changed since then is that with Donald Trump as president, this bill would actually be signed into law. This repeal should be the bare minimum Republicans pass on Obamacare as it fulfills the promise we all made to repeal Obamacare. I look forward to signing this petition on the House Floor when we return from recess."
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that if the bill were to become law, without a replacement, then 32 million more people would be uninsured over the next decade.Trump has been urging Congress to continue efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, but Senate leaders have said they are ready to move on to other priorities when they return from their August recess and plan to work to stabilize Obamacare's exchanges.