Top Republicans in the lower chamber are aiming to send their Obamacare repeal bill to the Senate before Easter, with two House committees gearing up to mark up the legislation next week.
At conference meeting Thursday — which featured Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who advised lawmakers on how to handle rowdy town halls — members continued their discussion on how to proceed with health care reform.
“We had a good meeting, Gov. Walker spoke about his travails a few years ago, and the speaker went through a Powerpoint presentation and he laid out a very clear timeline about three weeks — we’ve got to get this bill to the Senate within a three-week time frame,” Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe told reporters after the meeting.
In the wake of the leak of an early draft of the measure, a number of conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus and Republican Study Committee have expressed hesitations about the cost of the bill. Some voiced concerns the language on tax credits would essentially create a new entitlement program. Members of the House Committee on Ways and Means confirmed they plan to work through the weekend to address certain aspects of the bill.
“From what we are understanding, that concern has been heard to the place where they feel it’s something they need to be working on,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker said, adding he believes it’s important members understand the legislation to the point where they can answer their constituents questions about how it will impact the middle class at town halls back home.
Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said they are intent on keeping the March deadline.
“We are listening to our members and leadership has asked me to look at those key issues. I think we’ve got some very good improvements being worked on — we don’t have anything to announce yet, but I think this bill gets better every day,” he told reporters.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who led a series of break-out sessions to discuss the details of the bill in February, thinks the direction the bill is headed is positive, adding that Congress is incorporating the suggestions of members and will continue to do so in committee.
“There is pretty broad agreement on most of the components of what we’re putting together and we’re working on the details of the final pieces, so that’s healthy,” Scalise told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We’re actually incorporating a lot of those ideas into what will ultimately be a bill that’s filed soon and hopefully next week we can actually have the markups in committee and we’re going to we’re going to move forward and get this done.”
Lawmakers are still awaiting the analysis of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on the economic impact of the draft proposals.
If the House Committee on Ways and Means and House Committee on Energy and Commerce successfully mark up the bill next week, it will then move on to the House Committee on the Budget the following week for further consideration.
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