House Speaker Paul Ryan released a statement Thursday evening that the House is “willing” to have a conference committee with the Senate over the “skinny” Obamacare repeal bill the Senate is considering.
Four GOP senators, indicated earlier Thursday that they would not pass the repeal bill unless they received assurances that the bill would go to conference rather than being passed in the House.
“Senators have made clear that this is an effort to keep the process alive, not to make law,” Ryan said. “If moving forward requires a conference committee, that is something the House is willing to do. The reality, however, is that repealing and replacing Obamacare still ultimately requires the Senate to produce 51 votes for an actual plan.”
He said it was “now obvious that the only path ahead is for the Senate to pass the narrow legislation that it is currently considering.”
“This package includes important reforms like eliminating the job-killing employer mandate and the requirement that forces people to purchase coverage they don’t want,” he added. “Still it is not enough to solve the many failures of Obamacare.”
“The House remains committed to finding a solution and working with our Senate colleagues,” he emphasized, “but the burden remains on the Senate to demonstrate that it is capable of passing something that keeps our promise, as the House has already done. Until the Senate can do that, we will never be able to develop a conference report that becomes law. We expect the Senate to act first on whatever the conference committee produces. Obamacare is collapsing and hurting American families. We have to keep working at this until we get the job done.”
The bill is referred to as a “skinny” repeal because it contains only narrow provisions that have broad support from the GOP conference, tabling more controversial items with the goal of getting the votes needed to pass.
A bill going to conference means the Senate and House pass different versions of legislation and try to reach a compromise that they then both vote to approve. The House has already passed the American Health Care Act as an alternative to Obamacare.