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Paul Ryan Concedes on Health Care, Says House Will Move On

Speaker says members did all they could to get consensus

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan walks through Statuary Hall to the House floor in the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan walks through Statuary Hall to the House floor in the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan Friday put a nail in the coffin, at least for the time being, on the GOP’s long goal of repealing the 2010 health law. 

Moments after the speaker and his leadership team pulled from the floor a bill to gut the law, Ryan faced the press and delivered a somber verdict for his troops. 

“We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “This is a setback … no two ways about it,” he said.

“I’m really proud of the bill that we produced. It would make a dramatic improvement in our health care system.”

“And what’s probably most troubling is the worst is probably [yet] to come with Obamacare.”

“Moving from an opposition part to a governing party comes with growing pains,” Ryan said, noting the GOP is feeling them today.

“We came really close today but we came up short.”

Ryan said he told President Trump the best thing to do was pull this bill and Trump agreed with that decision.

Trump “has really been fantastic,” he said.

“It is so fundamentally flawed, I don’t know that is possible,” Ryan said when asked whether GOP would try to fix Obamacare now instead of repeal.

“Our members know that we did everything we could to get consensus,” the speaker said. 

Many of those members were bitterly disappointed.

“This bill is dead,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon said after leaving a House GOP meeting. Walden was instrumental in crafting the GOP plan. 

Ryan said Republicans will move on with the rest of their agenda because they have “big, ambitious plans.”

“Yes this does make tax reform more difficult, but it does not in any way make it impossible.”

Ryan said Republicans have “more agreement” on the nature of tax reform, funding the government, boosting the military, etc.

“That is the growing pains of government. We were a 10 year opposition party,” he said, noting that in 3 months time they had to try to move to a proposition party.

“The conference is let down, the conference is disappointed. … We were on the cusp,” he said.

Andrew Siddons contributed to this story.

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