Newt Gingrich is sending this warning to fellow Republicans on the GOP’s next attempt to change the health care system: It must be bipartisan.
The former House speaker, who has advised President Donald Trump in an informal capacity including during the election, said Tuesday that any health care bill must garner support from Democrats.
“Take a deep breath, slow down, go to the country, design a bill that does not try to get through the Senate through reconciliation and develop ideas strong enough that they’re actually in a position to cross-pressure Democrats into voting for it,” Gingrich told CNN in a phone interview.
“If they can’t produce a bill good enough that in North Dakota, (Democratic Sen. Heidi) Heitkamp decides she has to vote for it, they need to ask: Why are they moving the bill?”
Gingrich was referring to the budget reconciliation process – the vehicle that Republicans tried to use to to repeal and replace Obamacare. The bill only required a simple majority of votes, or 51, in the Senate, meaning it could go through the upper chamber without any Democratic support.
But in a dramatic turn of events, House Speaker Paul Ryan was forced to pull the bill off of the House floor Friday, conceding that he did not have the Republican votes to pass the bill.
Gingrich also said a fatal flaw of the House bill was that it was projected to negatively impact rural and older Americans – important demographic groups that supported Trump in November.
“Why would you write a bill that hurts the people who elected him?” he said.
Whenever the GOP is ready to try again on health care, Gingrich said, it should consider moving multiple, piecemeal and bipartisan bills.
“My point is: instead of yelling about replacing Obamacare, you start talking about building a dramatically better health care system,” he said.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spoke with several House members over the weekend to discuss a path forward, a senior administration official and Republican official with knowledge of the discussions told CNN.
But White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that there was no “immediate strategy” on health care.
“Have we had some discussions and listened to ideas? Yes,” Spicer told reporters in the briefing room. “Are we actively planning an immediate strategy? Not at this time.”