Pence Lights Into Lawmakers Over Obamacare Repeal Effort: 'Congress Needs to Do Their Job Now'

July 18, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence lit into Congress on Tuesday for thus far failing to get an Obamacare repeal to President Donald Trump's desk, saying the legislative body needs to "do their job now."

Pence, speaking before the National Retail Federation, used the outset of his remarks to address the collapse of the Better Care Reconciliation Act after Sens. Mike Lee (R., Utah) and Jerry Moran (R., Kan.) announced their opposition Monday.

Sens. Rand Paul (R., Ky) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) already had announced they would vote no on the bill, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said the Senate will vote on a bill that will simply repeal Obamacare with a two-year delay to craft a replacement.

Pence said he and Trump were grateful for the efforts of McConnell and the "vast majority of Republicans" in Congress who had worked to keep their promise. Trump tweeted earlier on Tuesday that most Republicans had been "loyal" and fought hard.

"But last night we learned that the Senate still doesn't have consensus on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time," Pence said. "President Trump and I fully support the Majority Leader's decision to move forward with a bill that just repeals Obamacare."

The Senate passed the same bill in 2015, Pence said, and should do it again.

"The Senate should vote to repeal now and replace later, or return to the legislation carefully crafted in the House and Senate, but either way, inaction is not an option," Pence said. "Congress needs to step up. Congress needs to do their job, and Congress needs to do their job now."

Pence said Trump had been fighting every day since taking office to repeal and replace Obamacare, receiving light applause. After noting what he called the broken promises of the Affordable Care Act, such as people being able to keep their health care plans or lowered premiums, Pence went into the dwindling insurer choices facing Americans.

"Behind these statistics are real people facing a real crisis," he said. "Behind every number is a name, and behind every name is a story."

Pence said he has spoken with working families and small business owners about the burdens placed on them by Obamacare.

"Obamacare has failed, and Obamacare must go," Pence said.

The GOP-controlled House passed the American Health Care Act to repeal Obamacare in May, but the failure of the Senate bill Monday has placed the longtime Republican promise in jeopardy.