A Senate supporter of the Republican healthcare bill said Wednesday that leaders are trying to bring the GOP factions together by Friday, when lawmakers leave for a weeklong July Fourth break.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) updated CNN this morning with his assessment that “there’s movement in the right direction … we had a really good luncheon yesterday with almost all the Republican senators.”
“And I just saw a genuine determination on the part of people, center-right and maybe more center-left in the caucus to get to ‘yes.’ I think everybody wants to get to ‘yes.’ And if we had that determination and we can — move the dials a little, I think we can get there,” he said.
“I think it’s important to get it right more than rush it. But there’s also a frustration among people who say, why didn’t you do this in January? You’ve had seven years. So I don’t think we’re rushing it. I just think we’re trying to — to do what we can to get to ‘yes.’ We need to get this over and move on to other important issues, like infrastructure, getting our economy going, and making our tax system more competitive with the rest of the world. And we can’t do that until we get healthcare attended to.”
Wicker, a member of the Rules Committee, noted that “there’s going to be a vote-a-rama when this thing is finally put together,” an “unlimited opportunity for amendments and discussion.”
“There’s a debate between the people who would like the program to be bigger. The people that would like to cut back even further. And also the parliamentarian. We do have to comply with the reconciliation rules,” he said. “And some of the things that we’d really like to do, like selling across states lines, became a problem under the Byrd rule and we have to work through that.”
One of the Senate holdouts, Rand Paul (R-Ky.), told MSNBC this morning that the legislation has “got to get better,” but he believes he has the solution.
“You remember Henry Clay’s Compromise of 1850; it couldn’t pass. He broke it into four pieces and they passed them individually. I think if we take this bill and split it into two pieces, we pass one that is more, looks like repeal that conservatives like. And then the other one you load up with all kinds of Christmas ornaments and gifts and money and just pile money on it that the Democrats will vote for and some of the Republicans will vote for. And then I think both end up passing. It may not be completely good for the country but you at least get the repeal that way,” Paul proposed.
“You can repeal the taxes; you can repeal some of the regulations. I’d prefer all of them. And you can also do some Medicare reform. That could be in a repeal bill. And it would be much narrower and much cleaner repeal,” he said. “But then to the people who want, you know, billions of dollars in new spending, the people who want to retain a lot of the Obamacare spending, that could be put in another bill. There’s another bill coming forward called the S-Chip bill. It’s a bill that typically all the Democrats vote for and some Republicans. Load it up with all the goodies that everybody wants, you know? And so then the fiscal conservatives would get the repeal and the fiscally less concerned would get all their spending.”
Paul says he’s angling for “something that actually expands beyond Obamacare.”
“I’m for letting every individual in the market join a co-op or a buying group and then they would be part of a large group, they’d be protected against pre-existing conditions. But they’d also be able to get a cheaper price,” he explained. “But this only works if you free up and get rid of the mandates and regulations. Because you have to legalize inexpensive insurance. Right now in America, Obamacare made it illegal to buy inexpensive insurance as a consequence millions of people don’t buy it. And you’ve got the death spiral of Obamacare because you’ve priced people out of the marketplace.”
Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) told MSNBC she’s still “very concerned about the Medicaid portion and what it would do to a state like mine.”
“We have the largest per capita population that’s in the Medicaid program… it is a wonderful safety net for so many of our West Virginians,” she said. “At the same time, I think reform is needed in the program to make the dollars go farther and more efficiently. I think we would — you know, health professionals and everybody would agree with that. So I think it’s threading a needle. And, you know, you’ve been behind the scenes trying to figure it out.”
“…I am very passionate about how I feel and conservatives on the other side are pushing their issues, and so far there hasn’t been too much give because I’m not willing to go back home and say this program is not going to work for you, but I’m still going to go for it anyway.”