McConnell, Ryan on Obamacare: Democrats won't help us

Trump's HHS pick dodges questions on Obamacare
Trump's HHS pick dodges questions on Obamacare

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    Trump's HHS pick dodges questions on Obamacare

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Trump's HHS pick dodges questions on Obamacare 04:50

Story highlights

  • A budget reconciliation bill can get through the Senate with just a simple majority
  • Republicans plan to use that procedure for handling the repeal and replacement of Obamacare

(CNN)House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell emphasized Thursday at a Republican retreat in Philadelphia that repealing and replacing Obamacare and tax reform remain the party's top 2017 priorities.

And they expect to get little, if any, help from their colleagues across the aisle.
"Both of those we anticipate having little or no Democratic cooperation," McConnell said. "That's why you can anticipate two reconciliation measures in the first six months."
    McConnell was referring to the fact that a budget reconciliation bill can get through the Senate with just a simple majority, allowing Republicans to avoid a Democratic filibuster -- a big reason this budget maneuver is being used to tackle issues as partisan as Obamacare and tax reform.
    The first budget reconciliation bill -- the one that will be used to repeal major parts of Obamacare -- is already being crafted by GOP lawmakers. Sources on the Hill say it will take weeks for that bill to be written, and Republicans are looking to potentially include some replacement measures in that bill.
    A McConnell aide clarified that they expect the second reconciliation bill that McConnell referenced to be about tax reform. Asked whether some Obamacare replacement measures could be included in the second bill, the aide simply said it is still too far out to speculate.
    At the GOP retreat, Ryan also committed that repealing and replacing Obamacare would not drive up the debt.
    "We are fiscal conservatives. What that means is we believe government should not live beyond its means," Ryan said.
    "The driving force of our coming debt crisis are out of control health care programs that are collapsing," he added. "If we an help fix health care bring more choice and more competition so we have better quality and lower cost and lower prices, that will dramatically help improve our budget situation."