As the battle over replacing the collapsing Obamacare intensifies, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., is urging conservative leadership in Congress to give the GOP-proposed American Health Care act a chance before the opportunity to repeal and replace the Democrats’ system is gone.
The bill needs a simple majority, 218 votes, to be approved in the House.
No Democrats are expected to support the measure in its current form, while conservatives in the House and the Senate are blasting House Speaker Paul Ryan’s replacement plan as “Obamacare Lite.”
Ryan can afford to lose no more than 21 Republicans.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of some of the most fiscally conservative representatives, assert that the legislation doesn’t go far enough in gutting Obamacare and vehemently oppose provisions such as the refundable tax credits.
Moderate Republicans, meanwhile, are deeply wary of the proposed changes to Medicaid.
Inhofe is warning the House Freedom Caucus not to let the perfect be the enemy of good and to give the legislation, which can be amended, a chance.
“I’ve told my friends on the Freedom Caucus in the House – I’ve said: ‘You guys, this is a work in progress, that we’re starting out. We are starting out with things that are good and need to be done. But, it’s not the way that you want it … But you don’t want to put yourself in that trap,’” Inhofe said. “We want to compare it with what we have in Obamacare.”
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Inhoffe said that while the measure needs to be tweaked and amended, it’s a breath of fresh air compared to Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act, which was forced on the nation in his first term without a single Republican vote. If the GOP leadership’s bill passes in the House, conservatives in the Senate will have the opportunity to mark it up with more conservative policy.
“This plan that they have – they have repealed the mandates in the Obama taxes, changed the regulations – sent them back to the states, they’ve had pre-existing conditions and many other things. So, it may not be everything that everyone wants, but it’s better than what we have today,” he said.
But he said it needs to move through the House and then on to the Senate, “so that all these people who are complaining about it can hand over their amendments.
Inhofe said there will be “an open amendment process that won’t even resemble what is there today.”
“I would just suggest, take a deep breath and let’s wait to go through the process – the process has worked in the past, and if the process had been used on Obamacare we wouldn’t have the problems that we have because by their own admission we weren’t able to find out what was in it until it was already voted and passed, and that was eight years ago,” he said. “So, it’s not going to even resemble what it is now and let’s wait and see what the product is.”
Sen. Rand Paul Paul, R-Ky., calls the bill “Obamacare Lite” and has emerged as a chief antagonist to Ryan and congressional leadership as they attempt to work through a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Paul has repeatedly accused Ryan of working to deliberately mislead President Trump into thinking he has more support for the bill than he has, claiming last week that Ryan is trying to “pull wool over the president’s eyes.”
“I don’t think it makes any sense and I think he’s trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the president. I think when I’ve spoken with President Trump, I think he agrees with me that we should repeal and replace, but I don’t think he’s stuck on that they have to be in the same bill necessarily,” Paul told Breitbart News.
“Paul Ryan, I think, is selling it to the White House and telling the White House, ‘Oh, it’s a piece of cake, it’s a done deal.’ And I don’t think that’s an accurate depiction of things. I think from the very beginning combining repeal and replace in one bill makes it very hard because we have different ideas on replace.”
The Kentucky senator doubled down on his accusations against Ryan in an interview Thursday with CNN.
“I think that Paul Ryan’s selling him a bill of goods that he didn’t explain to the president, and the grassroots doesn’t want what Paul Ryan is selling,” Paul told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Inhofe blasted Paul for his controversial claims against the House speaker, arguing that his provocative statement is an attention-seeking ploy. If Paul is sincerely wants to replace Obamacare, Inhofe argued, he should stop provoking the House to vote against the AHCA.
“I know it gets a lot of attention when you make statements like that – but that is not the bill that we are going to be considering. It’s going to have to go through the process,” he said. “If you want to leave it like it is, and don’t change Obamacare, then Rand Paul is probably doing the right thing, because it’s not going to change.
“I would invite Rand Paul to line up his amendments and when it comes over to the Senate try to change everything he doesn’t like about it – that’s the legislative process and that’s how we can come up with a good product,” he added.
Ryan shot back at Paul on Wednesday, arguing that the Kentucky is “insulting President Trump” by implying he is naïve enough to be misled.
“Frankly I think that is kind of an insulting remark to the president, as if he doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Ryan said in a Wednesday interview on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” “I find that kind of puzzling, number one. Number two, this plan the one we’re passing, it’s the one we ran on all of 2016, it’s based on [a bill] which was seen as the conservative gold standard.”