Pence endorses repeal and delay strategy on ObamaCare

Pence endorses repeal and delay strategy on ObamaCare
© Greg Nash

Vice President Pence on Monday said congressional Republicans should pass a “repeal only” bill if they can’t come to a consensus on legislation to replace ObamaCare.

“If they can’t pass this carefully crafted repeal and replace bill — do those two things simultaneously — we ought to just repeal only,” Pence said in an interview with Rush Limbaugh.

Pence’s comments echoed those made by President Trump, who last month suggested that he was open to repealing ObamaCare first and developing a replacement plan later.

“If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!” Trump tweeted on June 30.

However, White House legislative director Marc Short on Monday said, "we still believe that the bill before the Senate is the preferable path.”

Senate Republicans want to roll out a new draft of their bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare as soon as this week, hoping for a vote next week, but lawmakers remain divided on a clear path to securing the necessary 50 votes.

Ten Republican senators oppose the legislation, while more than a dozen remain undecided.

Republicans are returning to Washington from their Fourth of July recess increasingly pessimistic about their chances of passing their repeal bill. Lawmakers are largely splitting into two camps on a plan B should the bill fail: those who want to work with Democrats on a fix to the healthcare law, and those who want to simply pass a straight repeal of the law and work on a replacement later.

Conservatives are mainly behind the second option, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell expects Paul to return to Senate next week Former Hill staff calls for mandatory harassment training Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law MORE (R-Ky.) made waves last week by saying his party could work with Democrats to stabilize ObamaCare markets if the repeal bill fails.

Pence also endorsed an amendment being heavily promoted by Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Finance: GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few no votes | Highlights from day two of markup | House votes to overturn joint-employer rule | Senate panel approves North Korean banking sanctions GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few ready to vote against it Anti-gay marriage county clerk Kim Davis to seek reelection in Kentucky MORE (R-Texas) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Health Care: Trump officials to allow work requirements for Medicaid GOP senator: CBO moving the goalposts on ObamaCare mandate Cornyn: Senate GOP tax plan to be released Thursday MORE (R-Utah) that would give insurance companies the freedom to sell any kind of healthcare plan they want, as long as they also sell at least one plan that qualifies under the regulatory requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

Pence called them “freedom policies.”

“You know, Rush, that’s what freedom looks like, isn’t it?” Pence said. “That’s ultimately a free-market principle.”

But the amendment has drawn pushback from aides and other GOP senators, who warn the proposal won't be able to get enough support to pass.

The Senate GOP’s legislation was first introduced late last month but was met with opposition from both moderate and conservative Republicans. Faced with the growing opposition, McConnell postponed the vote.