WASHINGTON — Amid talk that the American Health Care Act could be resurrected after all, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) declared today that “about 90 percent of our conference is there, and about 10 percent are not” on supporting the stalled repeal and replace bill.
President Trump unleashed his frustration on the conservative House Freedom Caucus this morning:
The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2017
Some GOP lawmakers weren’t happy:
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 30, 2017
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 30, 2017
At a news conference on Capitol Hill, Ryan said he understands “the president’s frustration.”
“I share frustration. About 90 percent of our conference is for this bill to repeal and replace Obamacare and about 10 percent are not. And that’s not enough to pass a bill. We’re close. What I am encouraging our members to do is keep talking with each other until we can get the consensus to pass this bill. But it’s very understandable that the president is frustrated that we haven’t gotten to where we need to go, because this is something we all said we would do,” he said.
“And so he is just expressing his frustration. You all know that he does that in various forms, including Twitter. And I understand his frustration.”
Despite reports elsewhere in the caucus about healthcare negotiations going nowhere, and disagreements over Trump’s earlier call to work with Democrats on a great bipartisan bill, Ryan insisted, “I say we’re close because we are.”
“Here’s the point I’m making here. The Democrats aren’t for repealing Obamacare. We are. We work with Democrats all the time. I mean, look, Patty Murray and I did a big budget agreement. I mean, so we have long histories of working with Democrats. But I don’t think it’s a stretch of the mind to suggest that the Democrats disagree with us on repealing Obamacare. They’re not going to help us repeal Obamacare. That’s my point,” he said.
“And so if we’re going to do what we said we would do, which is repeal and replace Obamacare, and save the American healthcare system, something tells me the Democrats aren’t going to help us repeal Obamacare. They’re the ones who created it in the first place.”
Ryan said he’s “not going to commit to when” there might be another healthcare vote “and what the vote’s going to look like, because it’s my job to help make sure that House Republicans can coalesce and come together and draw a consensus.”
“What I’m encouraging our members to do is figure out what solutions get us to a bill that everybody can vote for and pass. That’s the kinds of conversations that are occurring,” he added. “This is too big of an issue to not get right. And so, I’m not going to put some kind of artificial deadline on saving the American healthcare system from oncoming collapse. I just think it’s too important.”
“…It’s really important that we do something to fix this problem. And that’s going to take us to continue to work to get consensus. And I’m not going to put a timeline on it, because I just want to make sure that we get this done right.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said it was “very instructive” that Ryan was now saying healthcare should come before tax reform.
“President Trump has said that it wasn’t his idea in the first place. He wanted to do tax reform first anyway. The speaker has now said he needed Trumpcare first. I don’t know if you saw him on TV this morning, what he said. This is very instructive. I usually don’t come here and talk about what the speaker said on TV in the morning, but what he said was, ‘Well, we couldn’t have done taxes first because we had to do the repeal first, because we needed that trillion dollars in order to do the tax reform,'” Pelosi said at her own news conference.
“So he really admitted they needed to take the money out of the pockets of working families in our country to give money to the richest people in our country. That’s — as I always said, this was not a health plan. First of all, let’s just stipulate to some fact here. The Republicans never really wanted health reform. They never did — the Republicans in Congress now,” she added.
“The bill that we have is a Republican idea. It was Romneycare in Massachusetts, developed by the Heritage Foundation for individual responsibility and recognizing that subsidies would be needed to honor that responsibility. So it was a free market, private sector initiative to honor our belief that healthcare is a right for all Americans, not just a privilege for a few.”