McConnell to GOP: ‘We need to deliver’ on Obamacare repeal – Politico
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that his message to Republicans skeptical of the legislation introduced by House leadership to repeal and replace Obamacare is that “we need to deliver” because “we’re in the outcome business now.”
Unlike his party’s efforts under the administration of former President Barack Obama, McConnell (R-Ky.) said GOP lawmakers are now in a position to make good on the promises they’ve made to voters for the past eight years. More than half of the GOP members currently serving in both the House and Senate have never done so with a Republican in the White House, and that shift on Pennsylvania Avenue requires a change in tactics on Capitol Hill as well.
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“When you have a president of a different party, you can freelance all you want to. You know, go have press conferences” and present “a 10-point plan to do this or that,” McConnell said at a POLITICO Playbook event Thursday morning. “But now we have an actual chance to change the country. We have somebody who will sign legislation that we pass. We need to get into a governing mode and start thinking about actually achieving something rather than just kind of sparring.”
While McConnell called on Republicans to fall in line behind the House GOP’s American Health Care Act, many in the party have thus far been unwilling to do so. In the House, many of the party’s more conservative members have said they will not support the bill because it does not go far enough in undoing some of the Obamacare provisions they most object to.
Conservatives in the Senate, including Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have expressed similar concerns, while others, like Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), have said they cannot support the bill because of its cuts to Medicaid.
Ultimately, McConnell said, Republicans should not expect to agree 100 percent with everything in the bill but should support it anyway because it represents an improvement over Obamacare. The legislation cuts a significant number of taxes, McConnell said, and without it “we’ll be stuck with the status quo.”
“I hope in the end that people will remember what Reagan said, that if he could get 80 percent of what he wanted, you call it a win and move on,” McConnell said. “And this bill is full of things that Republicans think are significant for the country. So what we’re arguing about is around the edges. And I hope in the end people will not say, ‘Because I don’t like this particular part, I’m going to take my bat and go home.’”
On the question of tax reform, another campaign promise that the president has said he hopes to keep by the time Congress leaves for its August recess, McConnell declined to commit to a timetable and said there are “some constraints” on lawmakers. Among them is that the health care legislation currently under consideration must pass — or not pass — before a tax package could be considered.
McConnell compared the prospects of a tax reform fight in the current Congress to the 1986 iteration, a bipartisan effort sponsored in both the House and Senate by Democratic lawmakers before making its way to the desk of former President Ronald Reagan.
Relative to that climate, McConnell said: “I think it’s safe to say this has not been a kumbaya moment here at the beginning of this new administration.” He said he expects Democrats won’t be willing participants in any tax reform legislation.
The majority leader was willing to commit to a timeline on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. He said the Senate would approve his nomination before its April recess. Gorsuch would need 60 votes for confirmation, a tally that would require he win over a handful of Democrats, unless McConnell opts to invoke the so-called nuclear option, which would allow Gorsuch to clear with a simple majority.
McConnell was critical of Senate Democrats, whom he accused of attempting to stop the Trump administration from functioning by slowing confirmations to a crawl. That tactic is “a reaction to the protesters” who have swarmed Washington and major cities around the country, McConnell said. “They’re saying ‘OK, we’re going to take resistance out of the streets and right into the Senate and try to prevent the Trump administration from even functioning.’”
“It’s been a conscious effort, in my view, to not accept the results of the election by preventing the administration from functioning, which I think is really unprecedented,” he said. “Yeah, almost a conscious effort — well, as the protesters call it, ‘resist.’ In other words, don’t accept what the American people decided.”