Senate Republicans aren’t “getting anywhere” with their pricey plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, Sen. Rand Paul said Sunday — even as a top White House aide projected the bill was “getting close” to a vote.
“I don’t think we’re getting anywhere with the bill we have; we’re at an impasse,” Paul (R-Ky.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Every time you add more federal money, more spending for the big government Republicans, it offends the conservatives. So, right now, this bill, which is not a repeal, has become the kitchen sink.”
Paul, citing billions in insurance bailouts included in the current version of the bill, said the legislation was “just being lit up like a Christmas tree full of billion-dollar ornaments.”
“It’s not repeal,” he reiterated. “We don’t repeal the regulations. We don’t repeal the subsidies.”
A more viable option, he argued, would be a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act along with a separate, concurrent bill aimed at replacing it.
“Let’s do clean repeal like we promised, and 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.”
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has pushed for a similar idea, telling CNN on Sunday he supported a separate repeal bill “with a delay” on implementation so that parents aren’t thrown off insurance rolls.
“If we can do a combined repeal and replace over the next week, that’s great,” Sasse told “State of the Union.” “If we can’t, though, then there’s no reason to walk away.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week delayed the vote until after the July 4 recess due to insufficient support for the bill — which, according to its most recent Congressional Budget Office score, would render 22 million people uninsured over the next decade.
Republicans narrowly passed a repeal-and-replace plan through the House in May. The Senate bill would fail if more than two dissenting GOPers in the 52-48 majority voted against it.
A paltry 17% of Americans approve of the GOP-backed Senate bill, according to a NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist survey released last week.
White House legislative affairs director Marc Short, in his inaugural appearance on the Sunday talk-show circuit, expressed optimism in the current Senate bill — but left the door open to a repeal-only plan.
“We’re getting close,” Short told “Fox News Sunday.” “We hope that when we come back the week after recess we’ll have a vote.”
He later added: “If the replacement part is too difficult for Republicans to get together, then let’s go back and take care of the first step of repeal.”
President Trump on Friday also jumped on board the separate-bills train.
“If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!” he tweeted.