House Speaker Paul Ryan won over key Republican senators when he assured them on a phone call that were they to pass a ‘skinny repeal’ bill, that the House would participate in conference rather than simply passing it.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who said ealier in the day that he would rather see Obamacare fail on its own than make the system worse by passing a “skinny bill,” said he would now support the bill as a way of moving the process along so they can produce better legislation.
“The whole point is to get us to conference,” he said. “This is the bill that gets us in conference … We’ve got one more chance. Right now we don’t have scores on bills that might actually work. We’ve lost absolutely nothing to keep trying.”
Before the phone call at least five Republican senators were withholding support of a “skinny” bill that is expected to repeal a few provisions of Obamacare, such as the laws’ individual and employer mandates, while leaving the rest largely intact.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repealing the individual mandate would by 2018 increase the number of uninsured by 16 million people and cause unsubsidized premiums in the exchanges to rise by 20 percent. According to Graham, Ryan told senators: “Why would we want to own a bill that increases premiums and doesn’t fix Obamacare?”
The senators had wanted an assurance from Ryan that the bill, which they oppose on the merits but would theoretically back as a vehicle to start talks between the House and the Senate in a conference, will not simply be passed by the House and sent to President Trump to sign.
In response, Ryan initially released a statement Thursday saying that the House is willing to work in a conference committee with the Senate on changes. He added that whatever legislative agreement the two chambers reach must pass the Senate first before the House will take it up and said the Senate needs to show that it’s able to pass a more substantial Obamacare repeal…