With Republican-leadership backed legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare struggling to gain traction in the Senate, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan expressed confidence in an interview that aired Tuesday morning that his GOP colleagues on the other side of Capitol Hill would find enough votes to pass the bill.
“It’s the biggest signature issue we have and it’s the biggest promise we’ve ever made in the modern era. We said if we get elected we will repeal and replace Obamacare,” Ryan told Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” in a pretaped interview. “We did this in the House. It’s now the Senate’s turn. I think they’re going to do it.”
Despite Ryan’s optimism, the future of the Senate’s repeal-and-replace measure is far from certain. At least five GOP senators have expressed their opposition to the bill, and some have gone as far as to signal that they could block a procedural vote on the measure expected Tuesday or Wednesday.
Republicans cannot afford to lose more than two votes on the bill and still have it pass. The legislation is not expected to receive any support from Democrats, who have been roundly critical of it.
Should Senate Republicans manage to muster enough support to pass the repeal-and-replace bill, the legislation would still need to be melded with the version that narrowly passed the House of Representatives last May.
Ryan’s confidence that the Senate will ultimately pass its repeal-and-replace legislation despite its wavering support among the Republican rank and file could be based at least in part on his own experience shepherding through a House version of the bill that was unable to completely unify the GOP.
Republican leaders in the House struggled throughout the negotiation process to strike a compromise between arch-conservative members and more moderate ones, forcing Ryan at one point to cancel a vote on the bill when it became clear that there was not enough support among GOP members to pass it. A second version of the bill later passed, albeit by just a handful of votes.
“We were elected to solve people’s problems, to improve people’s lives. Fixing healthcare is a big part of that,” Ryan said. “We have an opportunity in front of us. We are making good progress on these things. We campaigned on doing serious things with this president. It’s going to take us time to do those things. But we get this done, this will be the most productive presidency and congress in our lifetimes.”