Members of Congress should have time to look at tax reform legislation before voting on it, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said during a C-SPAN interview July 2.
Brady said that is one lesson he has learned from the tumult surrounding Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He said another lesson he has learned is that Congress and the White House need to come to a consensus on tax reform legislation.
“The sooner the White House, the House, and the Senate get on the same page on tax reform, the better,” Brady said. He added, “We want to make sure that members of Congress . . . have the time to digest [proposals], think about, [then] get input from their constituents before they have to take it up. And so, we want to make sure we do that in tax reform as well.”
Brady also said that passing a bill that would simply repeal the ACA, an idea that has been floated recently by President Trump, would not accomplish the goals the president has set.
“If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!” Trump tweeted on June 30.
Brady explained that delaying efforts to replace the ACA “doesn’t achieve what President Trump set out to do, which is to not only repeal the damaging effects of that law, [and] help people who are trapped in it right now — we are seeing it collapsing in front of our eyes — but to put in place that transition to a free market where there are a lot more choices than there are today, and getting control out of Washington and back to the states and the local communities, so they can design healthcare that’s right for their region or their state.”
“I really think the Senate’s approach — certainly in the House — of not simply repealing but starting to put into place the elements that can make healthcare affordable . . . that should continue to be our goal,” he continued.
The Senate is still negotiating an ACA repeal measure that would be able to get the 51 votes necessary to clear the upper chamber. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., postponed an expected vote on the bill — the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 — on June 27, citing disagreement within his conference. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who has come out in opposition to the bill, said part of the reason he is pushing alternative legislation, dubbed the Consumer Freedom Act, is because the Senate’s bill leaves out “those earning a combined household income of $75,000 or so.”
“Look, this bill, the one we have been discussing in the Senate, has bailouts for insurance companies,” Lee said July 2 on CBS’s Face the Nation. “It has hundreds of billions of dollars in tax relief for the affluent. It even has some provisions for the poor. Who it leaves out are the forgotten man [and] the forgotten woman.”
Lee said his bill would guarantee people “at least one Obamacare-compliant plan.”
Senate Finance Committee member Bill Cassidy, R-La., who touted his Patient Freedom Act on NBC’s Meet the Press July 2, said it is also backed by Sen. Susan M. Collins, R-Maine. He said that if Democrats will not sign onto that bill, he doesn’t think the Senate is ready to work across the aisle.
“Until a Democrat says they are willing to sign on to the Patient Freedom Act, which allows a blue state to do what they're doing now, but allows a red state to do something different, I'm not sure we're ready for bipartisanship,” Cassidy said.
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