Senate

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 Ryan (R-Wis.) assured them that the two chambers would go to conference.

Five GOP senators — Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), David Perdue (Ga.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Rounds (S.D.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) — spoke with Ryan via phone in Sen. John Cornyn’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 McCain (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 Capito (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 McConnell (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. 
Tags John Cornyn John McCain Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan Ron Johnson Shelley Moore Capito Ted Cruz
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