House Leadership Willing To Conference On Health Care Bill

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that Republicans in the lower chamber are willing to go to conference to draft a compromise bill for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act if the Senate passes its “skinny repeal” legislation.

The bill text has yet to be released for the scaled back measure, but is expected to leave a number of Obamacare regulations and taxes in place while eliminating the medical device tax and the individual and employer mandates. Ryan’s comments follow GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin threatening to vote down the bill if they weren’t assured by Republican House leadership that the bill would only be used as a vehicle to go to conference, arguing that, if the legislation was brought straight to the floor, it would exacerbate the problems in the health care industry.

While the skinny repeal is likely the easiest approach for getting the bill through the upper chamber — as the different factions of the party have struggled to come to a consensus in key areas — Ryan said it would not accomplish the promises they made on the campaign trail.

“Senators have made clear that this is an effort to keep the process alive, not to make law. If moving forward requires a conference committee, that is something the House is willing to do,” he said in a statement. “The reality, however, is that repealing and replacing Obamacare still ultimately requires the Senate to produce 51 votes for an actual plan.”

The Wisconsin Republican noted that the Senate will need to write and pass the legislation before they can act.

“The House remains committed to finding a solution and working with our Senate colleagues, but the burden remains on the Senate to demonstrate that it is capable of passing something that keeps our promise, as the House has already done,” he continued. “Until the Senate can do that, we will never be able to develop a conference report that becomes law. We expect the Senate to act first on whatever the conference committee produces. Obamacare is collapsing and hurting American families. We have to keep working at this until we get the job done.”

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Juliegrace Brufke