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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 RyanRepublicans are avoiding gun talks as election looms The Hill's 12:30 Report Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan MORE (R-Wis.) assured them that the two chambers would go to conference.

Five GOP senators — Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE (S.C.), David Perdue (Ga.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonTrump spars with GOP lawmakers on steel tariffs Overnight Regulation: Trump unveils budget | Sharp cuts proposed for EPA, HHS | Trump aims to speed environmental reviews | Officials propose repealing most of methane leak rule Trump budget seeks savings through ObamaCare repeal MORE (Wis.), Mike Rounds (S.D.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day HHS official put on leave amid probe into social media posts Trump, Pence to address CPAC this week MORE (Texas) — spoke with Ryan via phone in Sen. John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers feel pressure on guns Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting Murphy: Trump’s support for background check bill shows gun politics ‘shifting rapidly’ 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 McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better 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 CapitoAt least Alzheimer’s research is bringing Washington together Overnight Tech: Intel chief says 'no doubt' Russia will meddle in midterms | Dems press FCC over net neutrality comments | Bill aims to bridge rural-urban digital divide | FCC to review rules on children's TV Senators offer bill to close rural-urban internet divide 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 McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure 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.