Cruz faces ObamaCare repeal pushback during veterans event
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOn The Money: Conservative blocks disaster relief bill | Trade high on agenda as Trump heads to Japan | Boeing reportedly faces SEC probe over 737 Max | Study finds CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay Conservative blocks House passage of disaster relief bill The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan MORE (R-Texas) got pushback over healthcare during a town hall with a conservative veterans group on Thursday evening. 

"I'm happy to have a respectful conversation ... but if we're just yelling back and forth at each other we can't have that," Cruz told attendees during a nearly 20-minute back-and-forth over healthcare.

Cruz was participating in a town hall hosted by Concerned Veterans for America, which was meant to be focused on reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans-related issues.

The conservative senator quickly ran into pockets of opposition as some attendees chanted "pro-choice" and "liberal is not a bad word" between veterans questions.


But the event pivoted almost entirely to healthcare after an attendee asked if the Senate GOP's repeal and replace bill would impact veterans.

At one point the moderator tried to turn it back to veterans issues, but Cruz interjected saying he was "happy to have a respectful conversation."

Another attendee asked him if he would call "ObamaCare" the "Affordable Care Act," but the Texas senator said he wouldn't because he doesn't "believe in deceptive speech."

"It is widely off by a large factor," he said. "If you look at what is happening with ObamaCare now people are hurting under it."

Another attendee accused Cruz of stalling during a long story about his healthcare debate with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJames Carville: Biden represents 'stability' not 'generational change' Ocasio-Cortez, progressives trash 'antisemitic' Politico illustration of Bernie Sanders 2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding MORE (I-Vt.) on CNN, asking him: "You're filibustering. How are you going to improve healthcare?"

Cruz also told an attendee that "death panels" "wasn't my term," after the GOP senator was asked if he remembered the phase.

The town hall comes amid a wave of pressure on GOP senators from constituents over the July Fourth break to vote against the Senate bill. 

Cruz is currently opposed to the legislation, but has been locked in negations with Senate leadership.

He wants an amendment included that would allow insurance companies to offer any kind of plan, as long as at least one complies with the ObamaCare regulations. 

GOP leadership is struggling to find a deal that could capture 50 votes as senators prepare to return to Washington on Monday. Some conservatives, including Cruz, have backed repealing ObamaCare now, with a delayed "off ramp" and replacing it separately. 

But Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions What if 2020 election is disputed? Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval MORE (R-Ky.) said in Kentucky earlier Thursday that if Republicans aren't able to pass their own bill they will need to work with Democrats to pass legislation that would stabilize the health insurance market.