Speaker Paul Ryan: ‘We Were Close,’ ‘We Have Got to Do Better and We Will’

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Capitol Hill

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) decided to pull his American Health Care Act from the floor as lawmakers were still debating the bill, less than an hour before the vote. He attributed the bill’s failure to the Republican transition from an opposition party to a governing party.

“This is a setback, no two ways about it,” Ryan said at a Capitol Hill press conference 15 minutes after the 3:45 p.m. time for the scheduled vote.

House Republicans are still figuring out how to operate with a president in the White House and a Senate controlled by the same party, which is about learning how to govern, he said.

“Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains, and well, we’re feeling those growing pains today,” Ryan explained.

“Doing big things is hard,” he said. “Are all of us willing to give a little to get something done? Are we willing to say yes to the good, to the very good–even if it is not the perfect?”

“We have got to do better and we will,” he said. “It is not the end of the story, because every man and woman is motivated now more than ever to step up our game and deliver on our promises.”

The speaker said it was all part of a member-driven process, where members try to get consensus. Because there was no consensus, Ryan said he decided to pull the bill and tell the president the news.

In the end, the House Republican leadership was unable to win over the House Freedom Caucus and other unaffiliated conservatives, he said.

“There is a bloc of No-votes that we had that is why this didn’t pass,” he said. “We were close. Some of the members of that caucus were voting with us, but not enough.”

Ryan said he has not given up on his effort to rescue the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that created the Obamacare program, a program the speaker said was fundamentally unsound and on the verge of collapse. “What we are really worried about is the coming premium increases that are coming with a death-spiraling health care system.”

The Speaker said, “I really don’t think the law as it is fashioned–or anything close to it–is really going to be able to survive.”

As Ryan spoke, lawmakers were already rushing to get out of the Capitol and home to their districts.

“All of us, all of us, myself included, will need time to reflect on how we got to this moment, what we could have done to do it better,” he said.