House Republicans on Tuesday discussed making a second attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare in a closed-door meeting that was an attempt to "heal the divisions" caused when party infighting prevented legislation from passing last week.
"We are talking about how to get Obamacare repealed and replaced," Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., said as he left the meeting.
The message from Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was that despite last week's failed attempt, the GOP could not walk away from the effort to repeal the collapsing law, and replacing it with Republican reforms. Lawmakers who attended the meeting said the group held "a good healthy discussion" about internal differences that sunk the bill last week.
"There was a unified message that we need to find a solution because a lot of Americans will be hurt unless we repeal the law," Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga. said. "There is good, honest discussion going on. Good dialogue."
Republican leaders didn't discuss the specifics of a "Plan B," but Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., a member of the House Freedom Caucus, announced his plan to use a legislative tactic that could force a floor vote on simply repealing Obamacare. The move would require 218 signatures on a discharge petition, and it's not clear if enough Republicans would sign on to it.
"We will find out who is truly for repeal of Obamacare and who is not," Brooks said. "Those that sign… those are the ones that are for repeal of Obamacare."
Tuesday's GOP talks went on despite initial signals from President Trump that he wants to move on to tax reform. However, the White House on Monday that it might also be able to revisit the issue, as spokesman Sean Spicer said it may be too early to say that policymakers have "seen the end of healthcare."
The GOP majority on Tuesday spent their weekly conference discussing healthcare, not tax reform.
"I think that the overwhelming response that I heard was a real desire to find a way to get to yes," sad Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, which played a major role in blocking the bill last week.
After the meeting, Ryan declined to say when the House might be in a position to do something.
"I won't tell you the timeline because we want to get it right," he said. "We want to make sure we get it right. We had a very constructive meeting. Some of those in the 'no' camp expressed a willingness to get to yes and to make this work. We are going to keep working with each other to get it right."
"Friday the votes weren't there," Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said after the meeting. "It doesn't mean we are not going to get there and that is what this conference was about and that is what we are working toward."
Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said the GOP resolve to repeal and replace the law "has never been stronger," and said the conference "is going to keep working" and "isn't going to stop until we get it done."