Paul Ryan refuses to say whether health bill would pass House if vote were Wednesday

Story highlights

  • House Speaker Paul Ryan says he's working closely with President Donald Trump
  • The two Republican leaders are trying to get a bill passed that would repeal and replace Obamacare

Washington (CNN)House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to offer a robust defense of the House plan to repeal and replace part of Obamacare, but declined to say whether the bill could pass the House as is Wednesday.

"It's not coming up this afternoon," Ryan told CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead." "It's going through the legislative process. That legislative process has not been finalized. That's, no offense, that's kind of a goofy question or faulty premise because this goes through four committees. We've gone through two so far."
Ryan has been under heavy criticism from conservatives and major interest groups as well as a Congressional Budget Office report that said the American Health Care Act would lead to 24 million people losing health insurance coverage.
    The bill goes before the House Budget Committee Thursday. Speaking at a news conference on Capitol Hill later in the day, Ryan confirmed that he expected the bill would go to the House Rules Committee some time next week.
    However, Ryan would not commit clearly or firmly to bringing the House bill to the floor next week in a late-day press conference on Capitol Hill, deferring to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to set the schedule.
    At his news conference, Ryan would not answer questions about specific changes to the bill, calling it "premature" to name specific changes.
    "We can make some necessary improvements," Ryan said, characterizing the bill as "halfway through."
    Standing alongside Ryan were House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who emphasized the multi-step GOP strategy, and McCarthy, who said the House would consider two smaller health care bills next week.
    In his CNN interview, Ryan maintained that he and President Donald Trump were still on the same page in support of the American Health Care Act, despite conservatives actively lobbying the President to make changes.
    "We're working hand in glove with the White House," Ryan said. "The President is all in on this."
    Despite major concerns with the bill from people within his own party, Ryan said they would keep "all of the main pieces in tact" and improve upon details at a more granular level, citing his openness to changes in provisions of the bill dealing with Medicaid.
    "We're making fine tuning," Ryan said. "Medicaid flexibility is a good example, giving states better chances at more flexibility."
    He described the current health care system under Obamacare as untenable and repeatedly said the insurance regime was undergoing a "death spiral" that would go away even if the Republican Party did not take action to repeal and replace it.
    "Obamacare blew up the entire health care system. It made all health care more expensive," Ryan said.
    Ryan also addressed two of the bill's major foes, who have both been attacking him by name: Sen. Rand Paul and conservative media outlets like Brietbart News.
    Earlier Wednesday, Paul claimed Ryan was misleading Trump and selling him a "bill of goods," a comment Ryan took issue with.
    "Frankly, I think that that's kind of an insulting remark to the President, as if he doesn't know what he's doing or something," Ryan said.
    As for websites like Brietbart, Ryan was somewhat dismissive, saying, "Those websites have been attacking me from day one anyway."

    Wiretapping and default

    Ryan backed the House intelligence committee's conclusion that there was no evidence to support Trump's claim that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped him in the leadup to the election.
    "I think our chair and the ranking member, Devin and Adam, gave the facts," Ryan said following comments Reps. Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff made earlier in the day denying Trump's claim.
    He also said there was nothing he had seen to indicate Obama had Trump under surveillance.
    Turning to the nation's debt limit -- a legislatively imposed halt to the government's borrowing capabilities -- Ryan insisted there was no cause for concern.
    Although the government was on the precipice of reaching its self-imposed limit technically, Ryan said the Treasury Department had informed him it could take measures that would leave an unprecedented national default a concern for a later date.
    "We're not going to have a default on our debt, and we will figure out how best to deal with this issue when that moment arrives," Ryan said.