PHILADELPHIA—House Speaker Paul Ryan told House and Senate Republicans that lawmakers likely won’t repeal and replace Obamacare until March or April.
Speaking in the first major session of GOP lawmakers’ joint retreat in the City of Brotherly Love, Ryan said Wednesday that the health care law wouldn’t be repealed and subsequently replaced until spring.
“What we heard today was Obamacare is front and center,” Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., told reporters, referring to the first session of the retreat, which outlined President Donald Trump’s first 200 days in office, or the “200 Day Plan.”
“Repeal and replace,” Collins added. “The word was by the springtime.”
Trump apparently has come around to this timeframe, after suggesting he wanted to see Obamacare repealed and replaced much sooner. Trump is scheduled to address the group of about 290 lawmakers Thursday.
Republicans are using a budget tool called reconciliation to repeal Obamacare, and lawmakers took the first step toward getting rid of the law using the fast-track procedure earlier this month.
GOP lawmakers originally had set a Jan. 27 deadline to craft the repeal bill, but Republicans admitted they would miss that deadline.
Since at least 2010, Republicans have campaigned on getting rid of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. Now that they have the chance—with control of the White House as well as both chambers of Congress—some Republicans consistently have called for its swift repeal.
One senior Republican aide told The Daily Signal that the health care law should be rolled back “as soon as possible” to “fulfill our promise to voters that enabled unified government.”
Republicans first plan to use budget reconciliation to repeal the health care law and implement parts of a replacement, Collins said.
The next step is to use administrative actions, spearheaded by Tom Price, Trump’s nominee as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to continue to dismantle Obamacare.
Last, they’ll implement additional parts of a replacement through the House and Senate’s normal procedures, called regular order.
That third and final step in Republicans’ repeal-and-replace process would require Democrats’ support, however, since 60 votes are needed to override a filibuster to block action in the Senate. Republicans hold 52 seats in the 100-seat upper chamber.
Heading into the closed-doors joint retreat at Loews Philadelphia Hotel, House and Senate Republicans were expected to hash out the final details of their plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Though lawmakers in both chambers agree on how they’ll repeal Obamacare, through the budget reconciliation process, they haven’t come to a consensus on which parts of the law they’ll dismantle.
Conservatives want to repeal as much of Obamacare as possible using the budget reconciliation tool, which requires only a simple majority of 51 votes to advance in the Senate.
But centrist and liberal Republicans such as Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine want to keep Obamacare’s taxes in places.
Although the GOP lawmakers haven’t coalesced around a replacement for the law, they were scheduled to discuss proposals to do so at a session Thursday morning.