Politics

‘Repeal First, Replace Later’ Gains Steam with Senate Conservatives

Paul, Lee and Sasse support breaking health care reform into two steps, starting with promise to voters

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) ripped the stalled health care bill GOP leadership had put forward, during an interview that aired on Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” saying the legislation in its current state “is just being lit up like a Christmas tree full of billion-dollar ornaments, and it’s not repeal.”

The Sunday talk shows were peppered with GOP senators discussing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s struggle to muster 50 senators in support of the partial repeal and replace of Obamacare. Several conservative lawmakers backed an increasingly popular idea with the GOP base: Repeal Obamacare in entirety first, and replace it later.

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“Here’s the problem … I don’t think we’re getting anywhere with the bill we have. We’re at an impasse. Every time you add federal money, more spending for the big-government Republicans, it offends the conservatives,” Paul said. “So right now, this bill, which is not a repeal, has become the kitchen sink.”

“The bill is just being lit up like a Christmas tree full of billion-dollar ornaments, and it’s not repeal,” Paul continued, pointing to the portions of Obamacare left in the current bill to entice moderate Republicans to support it.

Because the GOP senators have failed to agree on how much of Obamacare to keep in their version of the House’s bill, Paul recommended producing two separate bills. The Kentucky senator insisted Republicans need to put some points on the board and move quickly to alleviate the burden Obamacare has placed on Americans’ shoulders.

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“Let’s do clean repeal like we promised. I think you can get 52 Republicans for clean repeal,” Paul said. “You can have a simultaneous bill or a concurrent bill that they can call replace and that, I think, perhaps if it’s big spending, they could probably get Democrats to go along with big spending.”

“I’m not for that, but I’m saying I want repeal to work, and the way you do it is you separate it into two bills, and you do it concurrently,” Paul added.

President Donald Trump suggested Friday he was open to the strategy in a tweet in which he said, “If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!”

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Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) also largely agreed with Paul’s two-bill solution, saying in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that “we should do a repeal with a delay — I don’t want to see anybody thrown off the coverage they have now — I would want a delay so we could get to work.”

“Republicans ran on repeal and on replace. The president ran on repeal and replace. We’ve been working on that for four months, and if leader McConnell can get us across the finish line in a combined repeal and replace … it needs to be a good replace,” Sasse said.

Sasse recommended the Senate cancel its monthlong August recess to focus on getting a health care solution into the end zone.

“Let’s bring everybody into the room. Let’s do this full-time – 18 hours a day, six days a week – let’s cancel the August state work period, let’s do it in full public view and have hearings and get to work on something that works better than Obamacare,” Sasse said. “We pledged that, and the American people deserve that.”

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Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said the current health care reform draft “leaves out” the “forgotten man and the forgotten woman,” insisting, in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” that a clean repeal and a clean start are needed.

“Who it leaves out are the forgotten man and the forgotten woman. Those earning a combined household income of $75,000 or so who have been left behind,” Lee said. “And these are the people who helped propel President Trump to victory last November. We need to do more to help them and to make sure they can purchase the kind of health care they want and the kind of health care that is affordable for their families.”

Repealing cleanly first, Lee argued, “is consistent with what basically every Republican who has campaigned for federal office over the last seven years has promised to do.”

“Sometimes when you lump too many things into one piece of legislation, you doom its likelihood of success, and I fear that might be where we are today,” he said. (go to page 2 to continue reading)[lz_pagination]

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