Pence urges Alaskans to contact Murkowski, Sullivan for repeal bill
© Getty Images

Vice President Pence urged Alaska residents on Thursday to contact Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns MORE and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanLincoln Project targets Senate races in Alaska, Maine, Montana with M ad buy Overnight Energy: Official says protesters not cleared from Lafayette Square for Trump | Trump administration blasts banks refusing to fund Arctic drilling | 2019 coal production hit lowest level since 1978 Trump administration blasts banks that refuse to fund arctic drilling MORE, who are among the Republicans undecided on the new ObamaCare repeal plan, and ask them to support the bill.

Pence said in an interview with Anchorage radio host Mike Porcaro that "now is the time to reach out to Sen. Dan Sullivan and Sen. Lisa Murkowski and let them know that you'd be grateful if they'd stand with President Trump and they'd vote in favor of Graham-Cassidy when it comes to the Senate floor next week." 

"I just encourage you to call both of your senators and let them know you support the Graham-Cassidy bill," Pence said in another Alaska radio interview, according to a White House transcript.


The latest repeal effort sponsored by Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSeveral GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Graham says he appreciates Trump orders, but 'would much prefer a congressional agreement' Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyFrom a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters Stimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility On The Money: GDP shrinks by record amount in second quarter amid virus lockdowns | Jobless claims rise for second straight week | McConnell tees up fight on unemployment benefits MORE (R-La.) would exempt Alaska and Montana from the bill's plan to cap Medicaid expansion funding. The bill would take funding originally allocated to ObamaCare's expansion of Medicaid and package it into block grants for states.

Murkowski was one of three defecting Republican senators over the summer to sink GOP legislation aimed at repealing ObamaCare. The senior Alaska senator met with GOP Senate leadership on Wednesday on the bill, but has not announced a position on it, citing her concern with its possible affects on Medicaid in her state.

"The Graham-Cassidy bill that's making its way through the United States Senate as we speak, we believe, is our best opportunity to repeal the most onerous elements of Obamacare and empower states like Alaska to craft healthcare solutions that will be better suited to the people of your state," Pence said Thursday.

Pence argued that block grants in the bill would give "all the resources of ObamaCare back to the states so that people in Juneau can craft solutions for your state to meet the unique challenges that Alaskans face with regard to access to health care and affordability." 

The vice president emphasized the Trump administration's goal to keep its promises to voters by overhauling the health-care law, saying that they are "working closely" with both of Alaska's senators. 

"But we're literally reaching out to every member of the United States Senate who knows that we can do better than the failed policies of Obamacare, and urging them to support Graham-Cassidy," he said. 

Pence pointed to a looming deadline for passing the bill. GOP leaders are aiming to pass it under budget reconciliation before the end of the month, requiring only 51 votes.

Pence could cast a tie-breaking vote should the GOP secure 50 votes.

"And the truth is, no Democrat in the Senate has expressed any willingness to consider repealing ObamaCare, so we've got to do this with Republicans. So we have until the end of this month to pass Graham-Cassidy and give the people of Alaska and all of America a fresh start on health care," Pence said.