Two GOP senators back ObamaCare repeal after Ryan call

Two GOP senators back ObamaCare repeal after Ryan call
© Greg Nash

Two GOP senators said they were willing to support the Senate passing a "skinny" repeal bill after Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids MORE (R-Wis.) assured them that the two chambers would go to conference.

Five GOP senators — Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration We are running out of time to protect Dreamers US trade deficit rises on record imports from China MORE (S.C.), David Perdue (Ga.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' GOP chairman warns of ISIS's ‘cyber caliphate’ Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him MORE (Wis.), Mike Rounds (S.D.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDebbie Wasserman Schultz marks 10 years as breast cancer survivor Foreign agent registration is no magical shield against Russian propaganda Let Trump be Trump and he'll sail through 2020 MORE (Texas) — spoke with Ryan via phone in Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Air Force makes criminal reporting changes after Texas massacre We need a better pathway for allowing civilians to move guns across state lines MORE's (Texas) leadership office outside of the Senate floor. 

"Yes, he said, listen why would we want to own a bill that increases premiums and doesn't fix ObamaCare — that's all I wanted to hear from him," Graham told reporters when asked if Ryan guaranteed the House wouldn't pass a paired down Senate repeal bill.

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Pressed if he would vote "yes" on the Senate GOP healthcare bill after his conversation with Ryan, Graham said he would.

Johnson added that "of course" the talk with Ryan was enough to assuage his concerns. 

"We just wanted to hear it right from Paul. ... We got that assurance. He said we could tell you — this is going to go to conference," the conservative GOP senator said.

Johnson added that any bill that passes the Senate "will not pass the House. This will go to conference. ... That's what we got." 

Johnson and Graham, as well as GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE (Ariz.),  warned earlier Thursday that they could not support moving forward with a "skinny" repeal bill until they got a guarantee that the House would not leapfrog a conference with the Senate and pass the bill.

Paul issued a statement saying the House was "willing" to go to conference on the healthcare bills, but that it was up to Senate Republicans to first show they could pass a bill. 

McCain told reporters while heading into the Senate chamber for a pair of votes that Ryan's statement wasn't sufficient.

He then appeared to walk that back slightly, telling Bloomberg that he declined to say how he would vote, saying he wanted to talk to his state's governor.

Separately, Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoSenate women: Rules on harassment must change Congress, here's a CO2-smart tax fix to protect, create jobs Women, Dems leading sexual harassment discussion in Congress: analysis MORE (R-W.Va.) told reporters while leaving the GOP caucus room that she "didn't know how to interpret" Ryan's statement. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) will need 50 of 52 GOP senators to support the "skinny" repeal proposal, which he unveiled on the Senate floor on Thursday night.