WASHINGTON (AP) – Vice President Mike Pence says Congress needs to “step up” and “do their job” in the aftermath of the Republican health care plan’s failure to win consensus in the Senate.
Pence said in a speech to the National Retail Federation on Tuesday that the Senate should vote to repeal the so-called Obamacare law and replace it with a new plan. Or he says it should return to the “carefully crafted” legislation in the House and the Senate.
But Pence says “inaction is not an option” and Congress needs to act to address health care.
Pence spoke shortly after President Donald Trump tweeted late Monday that Republicans should repeal the law and work on a new health care plan “that will start from a clean slate.”
At least two Republican senators say they can’t vote to repeal the health care law without a replacement.
West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said in a statement Tuesday that she “did not come to Washington to hurt people.” She said she had reservations about the GOP health care plan to erase much of Barack Obama’s health care law. Her concerns focused on proposed cuts to Medicaid and the impact on treating the opioid epidemic, which has hit her state hard.
Separately, Maine Sen. Susan Collins also said she opposes the repeal and delay approach. Collins said it’s not constructive to repeal a law so interwoven within the health care system and then hope over the next two years to come up with a replacement.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs at least 50 votes to move ahead. With Capito and Collins’ objections, he can’t afford another defection.
Speaker Paul Ryan says he would like to see the Senate “move on something” after the collapse of GOP plan to repeal and replace the health care law.
Ryan told reporters on Tuesday that the House is proud of the bill they passed in early May and is waiting to see what Senate can do.
Ryan said he was “worried Obamacare will stand” and repeated that the law is failing.
Ryan said, “We’d like to see the Senate move on something … We’ve got a promise to keep.”
President Donald Trump is calling for a 51-vote majority in the Senate instead of the current 60 votes as a means for getting individual pieces of legislation passed without the threat of a filibuster.
The president tweeted Tuesday, “The Senate must go to a 51 vote majority instead of current 60 votes. Even parts of full Repeal need 60. 8 Dems control Senate. Crazy!”
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