Ryan maps out GOP timeline for ObamaCare, tax reform

Ryan maps out GOP timeline for ObamaCare, tax reform
© Greg Nash

PHILADELPHIA — Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone Overnight Regulation: FTC to probe Facebook over user data | FDA takes step to regulating flavors in tobacco products | Congress may include background check measure in funding bill Judge rules FEC wrongly dismissed complaint against conservative group MORE (R-Wis.) on Wednesday mapped out the GOP’s 200-day legislative strategy, saying Republicans will repeal and replace portions of ObamaCare by spring and tackle tax reform before the August recess.

During a private meeting of House and Senate Republicans at their annual policy retreat, Ryan said House committees will mark up a reconciliation package in the next couple of weeks that will both repeal President Obama’s healthcare law and replace portions of it, according to several lawmakers in the room.

Then, Ryan will bring the final reconciliation package to the House floor by late February or early March.

“It will be a repeal with some replacement in it for what we're able to do given the reconciliation process,” interim House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackEx-EPA heads urge Pruitt to scrap changes to truck pollution rule Protecting nurses’ conscience: a non-negotiable in the final FY 2018 spending bill Womack wins initial support to become Budget chairman MORE (R-Tenn.) told reporters here at the GOP retreat. “Our goal is to make this a patient-centered healthcare system where we give people options.”

She said healthcare savings accounts could be one of the replacement elements in the bill, “which is something that people really do want.”

Republicans said they would use a second budget reconciliation process to tackle tax reform before the August recess. The arcane reconciliation process allows the GOP to pass major legislation with a simple 50-vote threshold, lower than the usual 60 votes.

One of Trump's top campaign pledges, a major infrastructure package, initially had not been part of Ryan's 200-day plan. But in recent days, Trump had personally asked Ryan to add it in, sources said.

However, with GOP leaders trying to tackle two complicated issues — healthcare and tax reform — Trump's trillion-dollar infrastructure package may get pushed to the fall.

"We have to walk and chew gum at the same time," House GOP Policy Chairman Luke Messer (R-Ind.) told The Hill. "Infrastructure is a clear priority for the president and there is every reason that a major plan can happen this year."

Lawmakers in the rare bicameral meeting at Loews Hotel in downtown Philadelphia said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senator blocking Trump's Intel nominee Spending bill delay raises risk of partial government shutdown support GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone MORE (R-Ky.) was largely in agreement with Ryan’s timeline during their joint presentation. But the senator also tried to tamp down expectations on ObamaCare, warning that Democrats are in no mood for compromise.

“McConnell just emphasized that the Senate moves slower and broad bipartisanship is unlikely,” said a GOP lawmaker in the room.

Opening the three-day retreat just blocks from Independence Hall, Ryan urged House and Senate Republicans to unify and recognize the tremendous opportunity they have with the GOP controlling both the White House and Congress.

A second GOP lawmaker in the room described Ryan's message as: “Come together. Be bold. Seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."