Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) gave his weekly press conference Thursday, less than an hour after Senate Republicans released their version of the American Health Care Act.
“I think the bottom line is: I want them to pass the bill, so we can all get on with keeping our promise,” Ryan said in response to a reporter’s question on the Senate bill, titled the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.”
The House’s passage last month of their version of the healthcare act stands as Ryan’s most significant legislative achievement of the Trump-era. While he had not read the 142-page Senate bill in its entirety, he told reporters he had been briefed on its general outline and was pleased with what he had heard. “From what I understand their bill tracks, in many ways, along the lines of the House bill. I think that’s very good,” he said.
Asked if there were any “red flags” in the proposed Senate bill that would drive away support in the House, Ryan declined to name any, expressing his wish to stay out of the Senate’s legislative process. “I know how hard it is to pass a bill like this,” he said:
What was helpful to us was that we didn’t have Senate leadership playing armchair quarterback with us. The last thing I want to do is play armchair quarterback with them. I want to respect their process so I’m not going to opine on the micro-details … But what’s important is that they pass their bill, that we get this process going, so that we can keep our promise.
While the AHCA eventually passed the House after changes in the language convinced members of both the hard-right Freedom Caucus and the centrist Tuesday Group to drop their opposition to the bill, its future in the Senate, where a loss of only three Republican senators will prevent its passage, remains uncertain. Polling has remained consistently poor for the bill and it is likely to face significant opposition, as it did in the House, from both the left and right.