House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued a statement Thursday asserting the the House is “willing” to keep working on an Obamacare repeal-and-replacement plan, after the Senate passes the so-called skinny repeal, but he had some conditions of his own.
It’s not clear whether Ryan’s assurance would be sufficient to convince GOP senators who are reluctant to vote for skinny repeal and risk the House simply passing it, too.
“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,” Ryan said. “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.”
More than a few Senate Republicans were demanding that the House give some sort of assurance that it wouldn’t just take up the skinny repeal — which will just be a few proposals 50 Senate Republicans can agree on and will be well short of a comprehensive repeal plan — if it passed the Senate this week. The GOP senators will only vote for the bare-bones bill, they say, if it is just a vehicle to get to the next step in the legislative process, a conference with the House, were new legislation based on the two competing bills can be produced for both chambers to pass.
Earlier Thursday, the House was sending mixed signals as to whether it would go to conference, or just take up skinny repeal for an up-or-down vote if the Senate passed it. Ryan’s request that the Senate take up whatever bill comes out of conference first suggests he doesn’t want the House to be on the hook if the conference talks don’t produce something that’s passable in the Senate. Reading between the lines, it also hints that the House could take up the skinny bill if the Senate rejects whatever the conference produces.
Read the full Ryan statement below:
“It is now obvious that the only path ahead is for the Senate to pass the narrow legislation that it is currently considering. This package includes important reforms like eliminating the job-killing employer mandate and the requirement that forces people to purchase coverage they don’t want. Still it is not enough to solve the many failures of Obamacare. 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. The reality, however, is that repealing and replacing Obamacare still ultimately requires the Senate to produce 51 votes for an actual plan. 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. 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.”