Health and Science

House Speaker Ryan agrees Republican majority at risk if Obamacare replacement bill fails this week

Ryan: Trump was here to 'close the deal'
Ryan: Trump was here to 'close the deal'

House Speaker Paul Ryan agreed Tuesday with President Donald Trump that Republicans risk losing control of Congress if they don't unify this week to force passage of the leading bill to replace key parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Ryan said he disagreed with the notion that there are not enough votes to pass that bill on Thursday.

"Yes, absolutely," Ryan said when asked if he agreed with Trump's personal admonition to GOP House members during a visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday that "many" of them would lose their seats if they voted against the bill.

"The president of the United States came to us and said, 'We all made a promise to the American people, and we need to keep our promises,'" Ryan, R-Wis., said at a press conference after the session with Trump.

"Everybody running for the Congress and the House, everybody running for the Senate, and the president himself, said to the American people, 'You give us this chance, this responsibility, this opportunity, with a Republican president, with a Republican Senate, a Republican House, and we will repeal and replace Obamacare,'" Ryan said.

He added: "The president was really clear, he laid it on the lines for everybody: We made a promise, now is the time to keep that promise, and we need to keep our promise and the people will reward us."

"If we don't keep our promise, it will be very hard to manage this," he said.

Ryan pushed back against the claim voiced by the leader of the House's conservative Freedom Caucus that the American Health Care Act doesn't have enough votes to pass the House.

"I disagree with that, because we have a lot of Freedom Caucus members who are supporting this bill," Ryan said.

Ryan's remarks came a day after the GOP leadership made several changes to the bill in an effort to make it more palatable to conservative members of the Republican caucus. The bill is uniformly opposed by Democrats. The biggest threat to the bill comes from a number of Republicans who have problems with the plan either because it does not go far enough in repealing Obamacare, or because it goes too far.

Ryan said there have been "huge conservative wins" in what has been added to the bill, including a speeding up of the repeal of Obamacare taxes, and changes that could lead to even further cuts in federal Medicaid spending.

It's not clear if those changes, or Trump's warnings and cajoling to GOP members on Tuesday will be enough to carry the bill.

But Ryan said that Trump "came here and knocked the ball out of the park, he knocked the cover off the ball, in explaining to our members how it's important to unify, how it's important to work together, how we are advancing our principles and we are doing what we told the American people we would do."

"This is our chance, and this is our moment, it's a big moment," Ryan said. "And I think our members are beginning to appreciate just what kind of rendezvous with destiny we have right here."