House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, acknowledged Wednesday that Republicans’ efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act are stalled for now.
“We’re all at the concepts stage right now — but productive conversations,” are occurring, Ryan told a WisPolitics.com audience in DC. “It’s all about how do we get there?”
Ryan said the conservative Freedom Caucus, moderate Tuesday Group and rest of the Republicans who make up the House Republican Conference are almost in agreement on a plan.
“On that bill, we’re basically 90 percent of the way there,” Ryan insisted even after a Tuesday night meeting led by Vice President Mike Pence yielded no tangible results.
“To pass a bill we need to be 95 percent of the way there. Sometimes you go to the floor when you’re at 90 hoping you’ll get to 95. But that’s why I pulled the bill [March 24th] because I want us to keep talking.”
Ryan insisted that although he originally envisioned passing an ACA repeal bill by April, the House is “not really” under the gun. “[W]e’re not going to put some sort of artificial deadline, especially when we don’t have to… to get it right,” he said, adding that key players will “keep working this” during the two-week congressional recess set to begin Thursday.
Republicans’ inability to quickly coalesce on a plan is a symptom of not controlling the White House for eight years, Ryan said.
“[W]e are going through the inevitable growing pains that we must go through to convert from being a 10-year opposition party to being a governing party within the span of four months,” Ryan said. “And so, did I ever think it would go perfectly? No, of course not. Two-thirds of our members have never served with a Republican president before.”
Ryan dismissed the conventional wisdom that Republicans have to pass health care legislation before moving on to other priorities, such as tax reform, or even necessities like keeping the federal government funded and not allowing the U.S. to default on its debts.
“I don’t see that one must get done for the other to happen; that’s not the case,” Ryan said. “But it clearly makes it easier. It clearly helps us rack up successes, and this was one of the most prominent promises we made as a party.”
Nonetheless, Ryan believes they will pass a health care bill.
“I’m hopeful,” he said. “I don’t want to put any specific odds on it, or an artificial timeline, because what’s happening is what needs to happen.”
See more from Ryan’s comments in Wednesday’s PM Update. Watch the live stream here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWon4FyjyA4