Well-financed Republican interest groups redrew familiar battle lines on Tuesday as the GOP plan to replace Obamacare encountered significant headwinds within the party’s own ranks.
The new plan backed by House Republicans is inviting an internecine fight within the party between leadership-aligned lobbies, such as the US Chamber of Commerce, and more hardline pressure groups, such as the Club for Growth. Those factions have repeatedly butted heads in recent years over both policy objectives — like the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank — and the legislative tactics to achieve them.
The Republican plan was swiftly criticized on Tuesday by a handful of big-money groups, most prominently the powerful political donor network organized by Charles and David Koch.
“The bill currently under consideration in the House does not repeal the elements that made Obamacare so devastating to American families, and we cannot support it,” said a letter from the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the Kochs’ umbrella group.
They were joined most prominently by Heritage Action and the Club for Growth, which has shown an eagerness to meddle in Republican primaries. The Koch network, too, in the last year has displayed an increased willingness to run campaigns against fellow Republicans in primaries.
The rush by lobbies to back the Obamacare effort was more muted and slower to materialize Tuesday: The Chamber, which is one of the most powerful forces in GOP establishment politics, only released its letter of support in the evening.
“Critically important provisions in the Recommendations repeal a substantial number of the most harmful provisions in the Affordable Care Act,” read the Chamber’s note to congressional offices.
At least one leadership-aligned group, though, shared Tuesday that it planned to put points on the board and spend cash to move the bill through Congress: The American Action Network, a nonprofit funded by allies of Speaker Paul Ryan, unveiled a small ad campaign backing the American Health Care Act on Tuesday in 21 congressional districts.
It remains unclear how deep rival groups will dig to beat back the message coming from within their own party.