House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) pushed back on criticism of a “mythical” third phase of leadership’s health care plan by claiming Republicans will be able to get vulnerable Senate Democrats on board during an interview Wednesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
Ryan, who has faced backlash from both sides of the political aisle over the GOP House leadership’s proposed American Health Care Act, insisted the bill fulfills the party’s 2016 campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. The plan has weathered particularly heated criticism from conservatives who say core promises and reform priorities have been left to a third step in a three-phase process — a third step they claim will never happen because it would require Democratic votes.
“Donald Trump is so excited about barnstorming America in Democrat Senate district states where he won [by] double digits like Missouri and Indiana and North Dakota and Montana.”
Ryan insisted Wednesday that key Democrats can be brought around successfully to support the third phase.
“I actually don’t want to let Democrats off the hook on those things,” Ryan said. “I don’t think Democrats are ever going to work with us to establish free market health care, let the states open up their own markets, have health savings accounts, equalize the tax treatment of health care and repeal Obamacare.”
“But I don’t want to right now say that no Democrats are going to vote for states shopping across state lines or association health plans — let the farmer buy their insurance from the American Farm Bureau plan, let the small-business person buy their insurance through National Federation of Innovative Businesses, let individuals both buy their insurance through whatever trade association they want to,” Ryan added. “I don’t want to let Democrats off the hook on that.”
The House speaker also claimed Trump is “so excited” about campaigning for the health care legislation and visiting vulnerable Senate Democrats’ states to make the case directly to their constituents.
“Donald Trump is so excited about barnstorming America in Democrat Senate district states where he won [by] double digits like Missouri and Indiana and North Dakota and Montana,” Ryan said. “He’s excited about saying, ‘Your senator is standing in the way of these good reforms.’ That’s what we want to do. But we made a promise that we would bring repeal and replace.”
LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham highlighted the concerns brought up by several key Senate Republicans that the legislation doesn’t fulfill the party’s 2016 campaign promises and asked why House leadership can’t “simplify this whole thing and do the full repeal of Obamacare in one piece of very simple legislation — full repeal — and concurrently introduce legislation that would do all that good stuff that you’ve been talking about in Phase 3?”
In response, Ryan insisted that wouldn’t work “because that requires Democrats.”
“And the last thing I think Democrats, who are the architects of Obamacare, want to do is help us create a free market health care system,” Ryan said, adding that this is why Democrats can be pressured later on in the three-phase process. “And we’re going to pass these other bills which we can’t put in reconciliation because it takes 60 votes and put pressure on Senate Democrats to support them.”
“We campaigned on repeal and replace. We have it within our power as Republicans to put most of our replace legislation in the repeal bill and get through the Senate without Democrats, without a filibuster,” Ryan said. “This is the promise we made, not only to our members in January, but to the people of this country. And what [Secretary of Health and Human Services] Tom [Price] is talking about is the things that we cannot put in here because of the Senate rules are the things that will pass in Phase 3.”
“We are doing everything you can do in reconciliation,” Ryan said, adding that Republicans are repeating much of what they tried to do in 2015 to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“We passed everything we can in reconciliation — repeal this law. This is … what we’re doing here — and then we add a replace to it,” Ryan insisted. “What we’re passing is the plan we ran on in 2016. It’s the plan that we’ve been drafting with the White House and the Senate committees since January.”
Saying that there is “a lot of misinformation and confusion out there” about the AHCA, the House speaker insisted that he wants congressional Republicans to “improve these bills.”
“That’s the legislative process — making the refinement and improvements to make this bill even better as it goes through the four-committee process in the House is how laws are written,” Ryan said. “And if the Senate doesn’t like it, we pass this bill, we send it to them, and they take it from there. If a senator doesn’t like a certain provision of this bill, then they can go amend the bill. That’s how bills become law. So senators aren’t helpless as to what the House does.”
“So you can amend this thing however you want to when the bill goes to the Senate, and that’s what I’d encourage the Senate to do. If there’s something they think should be changed and improved, then they should go amend the bill when the bill goes to the Senate because that’s how legislation works,” Ryan added. “The worst thing we can do is not follow up on our word. We need to keep our word and our word was we would repeal and replace this law. It is within our own power as Republicans to do as much of repeal and replace as possible.”
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