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By Juliegrace Brufke
GOP Sen. Rand Paul said they are still in the pre-negotiation stage of striking a compromise on the House GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill Wednesday.
Dressed in a tux and equipped with copies of “The Art of the Deal,” Paul said he and the House Freedom Caucus are fighting for a clean repeal with a separate bill featuring the replacement language. Paul applauded the White House for being open to negotiations, adding conservatives want to strike a compromise as well — but feel that will only happen if leadership is short on votes.
“You know, we’ve had a good meeting tonight with the Freedom Caucus, I brought copies of “The Art of the Deal” because I think we are in a pre-negotiation stage,” he said. “What I mean by that is that if that House bill continues to rumble through,and if there are enough votes there will not be meaningful negotiation.”
Paul and members of the Freedom Caucus have repeatedly expressed concerns over a number of provisions in the leadership-backed bill. Its language on Medicaid reform and advanceable, refundable tax credits are primary concerns.
“Ultimately, as I’ve shared before, there is only one factor that we’re going to be judged by — and that is does it lower insurance premiums for the people that we serve,” HFC Chairman Mark Meadows told reporters at the press conference. “And it is our belief that this particular bill does not lower premiums in a meaningful way.”
Meadows said, from the HFC whip count, he is confident the House bill would not pass in its current form.
Paul, who has dubbed the House bill “Obamacare lite,” argued they didn’t keep the majorities in both chambers running on the lower chamber’s blueprint.
“I’ve been around since the Tea Party began in 2009, every rally we went to was for the repeal of Obamacare — they didn’t say replace it with some of the Obamacare taxes with some of the subsidies,” Paul said. “They didn’t say change the mandate to a mandate that you pay to a private company instead of the government. They didn’t say that we were for bailing out insurance companies.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said they are looking to hit that “sweet spot” to get a bill that can pass both the House and the Senate during a press conference earlier Wednesday.
Paul and HFC member Rep. Mark Sanford introduced Obamacare replacement legislation earlier this year.