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Boehner: ObamaCare Replacement Coming

January 17, 2014
The Hill
Russell Berman

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday predicted that House Republicans would unveil — and possibly vote on — a plan to replace the healthcare law in 2014, fulfilling a long-delayed promise to voters.

An alternative to ObamaCare will be “one of the big issues” the House GOP will discuss at its annual policy retreat at the end of the month, Boehner said.

While the party has repeatedly run on a pledge to “repeal and replace” President Obama’s signature law, GOP lawmakers have never coalesced around a single alternative. Boehner is now facing mounting pressure from conservatives who say the party cannot continue to merely denounce the unpopular ObamaCare as a means of winning elections.

“It’s one of the big issues for conversation in terms of our agenda for this year, and I think you’ll see Republicans come forward with a plan to replace ObamaCare,” Boehner said Thursday, “a plan that will actually reduce costs for the American people and make health insurance more accessible.”

The Speaker signaled he agrees with members who are arguing that the party must run on a robust agenda, but party leaders are waiting until the retreat to decide exactly how aggressive to be in an election year. Party leaders favor a politically safer approach in which the GOP would draft principles on a range of issues, including healthcare, tax reform and immigration, but may not actually hold votes that could be targeted in campaigns.

“It’s important for us as a party, especially in an election year, to tell the people what you’re for,” Boehner said. “We’re for getting rid of ObamaCare and replacing it with a patient-centered healthcare system. I think you’ll see ample evidence of that. We believe in tax reform, closing loopholes, getting rid of unnecessary deductions, lowering rates, will be good for our economy and help create more jobs. We believe in education reform.”

“So we’re going to outline these issues,” he continued. “Many of them will be voted on, I’m sure, in the coming year.”

In meetings in the Capitol on Wednesday, conservatives resolved to push the leadership to commit to an ambitious agenda that would include floor votes on a healthcare replacement, tax reform and other issues.

“I don’t want to see us just come up with a vision,” Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) said. “I want to see us devote considerable floor time in this calendar year to implementing that vision.”

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