Politics

EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Diane Black Confident GOP Will Reach Consensus On Obamacare Replacement

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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PHILADELPHIA — GOP lawmakers have been at odds over the best way to repeal and replace Obamacare, but Interim House Budget Chairman Diane Black is confident they will come to a consensus before the Republican policy retreat in Philadelphia comes to a close.

Republicans maintained the majority in Congress and took back the White House in part because of their promise to craft a plan to drive down health-care costs. While a number of proposals have been floated, members have yet to unify behind a single plan. Black said she’s not concerned the party isn’t in full agreement at this point, noting the discussions taking place between the two chambers gives them the opportunity to address concerns and construct a plan they feel is right.

“Even right at the very beginning, with [Senate Majority] Leader McConnell and [Speaker of the House] Paul Ryan opening up, you can see that there’s a difference in the way the House and the Senate work, but we are committed to being unified in our message when we come out of here,” she told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

During the three-day retreat, members are slated to have break-out sessions to discuss the complexities of the proposals. With President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence scheduled to attend the event Thursday, the legislative branch and executive branch are expected to work on bridging any remaining differences on health care reform.

“I don’t get as upset as some people do to say ‘oh your not all on the same page yet,’ well that’s because we still have discussion to do,” continued Black, a Tennessee Republican. “I think that we’ll come out of here with a consensus and I think that will be a really good thing for us to take back to the president.”

According to Black, the retreat allows members who don’t sit on the committees of jurisdiction the chance to hear all the details, providing them with a better understanding of the issue.

“That’s why these are so important, we’ll all get into a room and we’ll all be hearing the same thing — we’ll be hearing each others questions and then we’ll come out with a unified message,” she said.

The final legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act may still be in the works, but congressional Republicans already cleared their first procedural hurdle, allowing them to move forward with the process in the respective committees. The process involved using the FY 2017 budget as a vehicle to pass the procedural resolution using reconciliation, which only requires a simple majority to make it through the upper chamber. A number of conservatives voiced concerns over the FY 2017 budget numbers, saying they voted for it to fulfill their promise to constituents to repeal Obamacare, but would like to see a FY 2018 budget that balances. Black said it’s going to be challenging, but they are ready to move forward on constructing fiscally conservative legislation.

“It’s going to be a tough budget, and we know that — if you take a look at what the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) says as far as the amount of growth that we’ll have and the kind of challenges that we have moving forward, it’s going to be a tough budget, but you know what, we are ready for the opportunity,” she said.

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