Scuttling of Cantor Bill Reveals GOP Split on Healthcare

"We want to stop Obamacare and that's why we're going to the fund, the slush fund, that Secretary Sebelius is using for the implementation of the bill," said Cantor hours before the vote on the bill was canceled.

Huelskamp said he opposed the bill because it expanded a portion of Obamacare, calling it “a bailout for those states that don’t have a high risk pool.” He also said that the bill sends a confusing message to the party base because it expands a portion of the federal health law.

“Republicans should be about managing healthcare in a way that actually the cost of [it] for ordinary Americans goes down,” said Labrador. “Subsidizing the struggles of ordinary Americans is not the solution to the problems we are facing here in Washington.”

Conservative groups like Heritage Action and the Club for Growth, a conservative political action committee, warned that Republicans who voted in favor of the bill would have scorecards marked down for supporting part of Obamacare.

“It’s pretty simple. We’re shifting money from one part of Obamacare we don’t support to another part of Obamacare we don’t support,” said Amash. “That’s a nonstarter for me.”

“Oftentimes, Republicans say, ‘We don’t like this Democratic big government program, let’s replace it with our Republican big government program.’ Enough is enough,” said Radel, who thinks the GOP should oppose any bill that does not repeal the federal health law even if it is just a symbolic message sent to their party base.

Cantor delivered a speech in February that said his party needed to get beyond “its single-minded, green-eyeshaded message” of fiscal austerity and look to the problems of ordinary struggling Americans. His message was well received, but disagreement over how to pitch the conservative message and the approach they should take to help the American people remains among Republicans.

“The American people are not asking us to be just a little to the right of the Democratic Party. They want us to have a robust discussion on how conservative principles can actually help them in their everyday lives,” said Labrador.

Many of the representatives told reporters they were planning to vote no on the bill, mainly because it did nothing to repeal Obamacare.

“The president of the U.S. promised the American people free healthcare…and now when his vision faces the reality that it actually cost money to give people healthcare and that it costs money to actually have people with pre-existing conditions covered in all healthcare policies...there’s an actual cost that the American people were never told,” Labrador continued.

“This thing is a disaster, and it’s the biggest issue you hear from big and small businesses in my district,” said Scalise. “We need to get a vote on full repeal and ask the Republican leadership about this.”