Ryan Justifies Waiting For CBO Score To Send Health Bill To The Senate

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., arrives for a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. arrives for a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Tuesday downplayed the importance of an upcoming Congressional Budget Office report on House Republicans’ health bill, despite his delay in sending the bill over to the Senate for now nearly three weeks as he waits for the report.

Ryan has delayed formally sending the American Health Care Act to the Senate after his chamber’s May 4 vote, Bloomberg reported last week, in order to receive a confirmation from the CBO that the bill cuts the deficit enough to qualify for reconciliation in the Senate — that is, the Senate’s ability to pass the bill on a simple majority vote, foregoing the threat of a Democratic filibuster.

“We just want to have an abundance of caution to make sure,” Ryan said at his weekly press briefing Tuesday, explaining why he had rushed a House vote and then delayed sending the bill to the Senate. “CBO scores have been unpredictable in cases in the past. We don’t think that’s going to be the case, but again, we just want to make sure that we dot our ‘I’s and cross our ‘T’s exactly the right way, so that when we send the bill over to the Senate, it is not, as we say, fatal.”

The CBO found in March that Republicans’ original, failed health bill would have resulted in 24 million more uninsured people by 2026. However, the office hasn’t yet scored the amended version of that bill, which would allow states to opt out of many of Obamacare’s pricing protections and other regulatory measures, and authorized $8 billion over five years to fund high risk insurance pools. The CBO report on the amended bill is expected to come out this week.

House Democrats criticized Ryan for pushing a vote without a CBO score. In the days before and immediately after the bill passed the House, he scolded them for placing too much importance on the analysis.

“A three-page amendment is not going to dramatically alter that bill,” Ryan said on May 7. “It does a narrow change to the bill.”

But Ryan acknowledged Tuesday that the same amendment — and the same missing CBO score — were responsible for holding up Republicans’ health care effort.

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