In a Wednesday meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the Republican conference plotted out the year ahead with the top priority being still to repeal the Affordable Care Act as quickly as possible.
A source in the room said timing was still to be determined, but according to several members in the meeting, the goal right now is to get the Obamacare repeal bill on President-elect Donald Trump’s desk by the end of February. Members said Pence gave no timeline for when a replacement bill should be presented and passed.
According to multiple members who were in the meeting, Pence spoke vaguely about the process but reiterated multiple times that Republicans had to take special care not to disrupt the health care market, something that health care experts have been warning will happen if Republicans move forward with their plan to repeal Obamacare without a replacement.
During the meeting, Pence also talked to members about Trumps’s other top priorities which included tax reform, an infrastructure package and carrying out Trump’s campaign promise by securing the border with a border wall.
Republicans are still working to understand how much of Obamacare can be repealed through reconciliation, the budget process that only needs a majority to pass in the Senate.
Kevin Brady, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told TPM that the Senate is still working through what they can do under their rules, but that it was possible that Republicans would have to repeal Obamacare through reconciliation then follow up with more legislation to remove other pieces of it that didn’t have a budgetary impact.
Republicans would need Democrats to do that and it’s not clear they have an interest in gutting their president’s signature law.
“We’ve had discussions. They feel pretty strongly about the current law,” Brady said.