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GOP congressman on Obamacare replacement: 'I don't think any individual has read the whole bill'

  • The American Health Care Act is set to be voted on by the House on Thursday
  • Republicans have struggled for months to win enough votes for it in their own caucus
  • The bill could lead to greater numbers of people being uninsured.
Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., conducts a news conference with members the GOP caucus in the Capitol Visitor Center to announce a new amendment to the health care bill to repeal and replace the ACA, April 6, 2017.
Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images
Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., conducts a news conference with members the GOP caucus in the Capitol Visitor Center to announce a new amendment to the health care bill to repeal and replace the ACA, April 6, 2017.

Hours before a scheduled vote on a Republican bill that would repeal and replace major parts of Obamacare, a GOP congressman suggested that neither he — nor anyone else — has actually read the entire bill.

But Rep. Thomas Garrett of Virginia said his "staff" had read all of the parts of the bill — which he plans to vote for.

"Oh, gosh," Garrett said on MSNBC on Thursday morning when asked if he has read the entire text of the GOP's American Health Care Act.

"Let's put it this way: People in my office have read all parts of the bill."

"I don't think any individual has read the whole bill," Garrett said. "That's why we have staff."

Republicans for years have accused Democrats of ramming through Obamacare legislation, known as the Affordable Care Act, through Congress without lawmakers having a full grasp of the implications of that law.

They and other Obamacare foes have repeatedly pointed to a statement that then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said about the ACA in 2010.

"We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it — away from the fog of the controversy," Pelosi said.

Referring to the ACA in 2009, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said: "I don't think we should pass bills that we haven't read that we don't know what they cost."

But Ryan, who is now House speaker, and other GOP leaders on Wednesday night scheduled the vote Thursday without having in hand an analysis of their revised repeal bill by the Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO at some point will project how much the bill will cost the federal government, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many more people are likely to become uninsured as a result of it.

"I have said all along that it was sort of hypocrisy for us to lament passing a bill without finding out what's in it and then to do the same thing," Garrett said Thursday.

"But I think that was with the original [Republican] bill," Garrett said, referring to a prior version of the legislation, which was yanked from a planned vote in late March after GOP leaders saw it did not have enough votes to pass. He noted that the House had just 17 days to consider that first version.

"We now have [had] several months" to have consider the bill, Garrett said. "So that's how it's different from what happened in 2009."

Garrett said that lag has given analysts enough time to understand the implications of the bill.

The CBO's "score" of the original bill estimated that 24 million more Americans would become uninsured by 2026 than would be the case if Obamacare remained in place, and that individual premiums would be about 15 to 20 percent higher in the first two years of the bill becoming law.

Since the aborted vote in late March, Republicans have made a series of amendments to the bill, each of which would alter the CBO's original analysis of the legislation.