Republicans: ObamaCare repeal starts this spring

Republicans: ObamaCare repeal starts this spring
© Greg Nash


Two of the top Republicans in Congress on Monday said they are pushing ahead with the plan to begin repealing ObamaCare this spring, despite any confusion caused by President Trump saying the process could spill into next year.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyRepublicans open to targeted China tariffs despite steel flap GOP pushes for 'phase two' of tax cuts Lighthizer, Ross set to talk trade on Capitol Hill next week MORE (R-Texas) told reporters that he is working off of Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanYou just can't keep good health policy down Trump blasts Congress for sending him omnibus bill that 'nobody read' Students bash Congress for inaction on gun control MORE’s (R-Wis.) timeline of moving repeal legislation by the end of March.

“That’s the timetable I’m working off of,” Brady said. 

"We're continuing on a good, deliberate, but pretty steady pace," he added. 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump GOP senator threatened to hold up bill over provision to honor late political rival: report Overnight Health Care: House passes .3T omnibus | Bill boosts funds for NIH, opioid treatment | Senators spar over ObamaCare fix | 'Right to Try' bill heads to the Senate MORE (R-Texas), the Senate's No. 2 Republican, told reporters that a repeal bill under the fast-track process called reconciliation could come up in the Senate even within the next 30 days.  

“Hopefully in the next 30 days or so,” Cornyn said when asked when he thinks the reconciliation bill could come up.  

That could be an ambitious timeline, given the thorny issues Republicans have to work through when it comes to repeal and replacement of ObamaCare. 

Trump told Fox News on Sunday that “maybe it’ll take till sometime into next year” to put forward a replacement plan, calling the process “very complicated.”

Asked about Trump’s comments, Cornyn emphasized that the initial repeal bill under reconciliation is just the beginning of the process, and that a series of smaller bills will follow.  

“We've said all along we're going to start the process using budget reconciliation, but it's not going to be all in one piece of legislation, they'll be multiple steps,” Cornyn said. “You'll have to ask him what he meant, but I think it's going to take — it's not going to be instantaneous, because there is going to need to be a transition period.”

Putting off some elements of replacement in a step-by-step process, though, would call into question Trump’s pledge to repeal and replace ObamaCare “essentially simultaneously.”

Congressional Republicans have said they could include elements of a replacement plan in the repeal bill. Yet they note that full replacement cannot pass under the fast-track rules of reconciliation that allow a measure to avoid a filibuster.  

Trump has caught congressional Republicans off guard on ObamaCare before, like when he said last month that he would soon be putting forward his own replacement plan, something lawmakers said they had not heard of.  

Republicans are facing headwinds as they seek to promptly pass a repeal bill, though. Many Republican lawmakers are pushing to pass replacement at the same time, and there are tough disagreements on what the replacement should look like, including on how to handle ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid.  

Lawmakers are also facing crowds of constituents pressuring them not to repeal the law.