Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to build momentum Tuesday for his last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare, attempting to paper over complaints about the shortcut legislative process and warning that the GOP majority in Congress would not continue to “prop up” Obamacare.
“You can have different opinions about the quality of this bill. At the the end of the day, this is the only process left available to stop a march toward socialism,” Graham, the lead author of the bill, told reporters in the Capitol.
Asked whether the bill’s supporters planned to address Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) concerns about regular order, which sank Republicans’ last effort to repeal Obamacare, Graham said the Senate Finance Committee had a hearing scheduled for Monday to discuss the proposal.
“There will be a public hearing, what John has been asking for,” he said.
Graham said Republicans who vote against the bill are voting “against federalism.”
“At the end of the day we need 50 votes, and if you’re a Republican, chances are you believe in federalism, because if you don’t you probably are not a Republican,” he said. “If you’re a Republican and you vote against federalism, you’ve got to explain to people back home why Washington knows better.”
Graham said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republican leadership have “done everything we’ve asked and then some,” and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said his chamber would pass the proposal if it cleared the Senate.
“Paul Ryan told me to my face,” he said. “You pass it, we pass it.”
Graham said President Donald Trump was “very excited” about the idea of a “state-centric health system.”
“I’ve talked to the President five times in the last two days,” he said. “He is focused like a laser.”
Graham said Trump told him he was “not going to throw good money after bad,” an apparent reference to cost sharing reduction payments, subsidies that support coverage of low-income people with severe health needs.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office on Thursday predicted that premiums will go up in 2018 because of ongoing uncertainty about whether Trump’s administration will cut off support for those subsidies.
Graham indicated that Ryan also said he was unwilling to hold a vote on a bill that “props up” Obamacare by continuing to support cost sharing reduction payments.
“Here’s what the speaker of the House told me: ‘I will not bring up a bill for a vote in the House that props up Obamacare because that is not why I came here and that is not what our majority wants to do,'” Graham said. “And the President of the United States is committed to repealing and replacing this bill, not propping it up.”