Top House Lawmaker: Senate Needs To Be On Board If We Want To Repeal Obamacare

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden defended the House GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan Tuesday, noting they are going to need to get Senate Republicans on board for it to pass.

A number of lawmakers in the upper chamber — including Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and conservative Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky — have expressed hesitations over provisions related to tax credits and Medicaid expansion in the bill. Even using the reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority in the Senate, can’t afford to lose more than three votes within the party.

Walden said he has sent notes and had good conversations with members last week and will work to address any remaining concerns.

“We start with the 2015 reconciliation legislation as the underpinning document, and we’re moving forward to get health insurance where it’s affordable and available to create more choices in the marketplace and to do the biggest entitlement reform since Bill Clinton signed welfare reform into law,” Walden said at a press conference. “So these are big measures moving forward. We’ve certainly met the test of the president and Secretary Price, who believe this is repeal and reform. We will work with them, but we need them on board to make this happen.”

Members of the House Freedom Caucus and Republican Study Committee have also voiced concerns over the bill’s text. Brady noted conservatives overwhelmingly supported the 2015 reconciliation bill used to repeal Obamacare, which was later vetoed by then-President Barack Obama, which includes similar elements to what they put forward .

“Here, I guess is my main point: As Republicans, we have a choice. We can act now or we can get fiddling around and squander this opportunity to repeal Obamacare and begin a new chapter of freedom for the American people,”  he said. “House republicans are choosing to act now.”

President Donald Trump praised the plan Tuesday, tweeting it is “now out for review and negotiation.”

Walden said they have had a series of listening sessions with members and will continue to consider ideas.

“It is a legislative process. We have a bill to read, I’d encourage them to look against their own bills and what they supported in the past and let’s have a thoughtful legislative discussion. There’s a process before each of our committees,” he said. “There will be a process in the Budget Committee, there is a process in the Rules Committee, and then it will come to the floor —  so this is an important step moving forward though to fulfill our promise to the american people to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

The legislation is slated to be marked up in both committees Wednesday.

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