Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) warned House Republicans of electoral consequences should they vote to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in its current iteration when he appeared on ABC's This Week Sunday.
Cotton told host George Stephanopoulos that he feared Republicans would place their House majority “at risk” by passing the AHCA, which he said “cannot pass the Senate” in its current form.
Pointing to 1994’s House election, where Democrats lost 54 seats, Cotton warned of a similar outcome for House Republicans should they break their promise to “reduce the cost of health insurance for Americans.”
House Republicans should prioritize quality over speed in the passage of legislation pertaining to “health care reform,” said Cotton, repeating claims he has made over recent weeks.
Watch the segment below.
Partial transcript below (emphases added):
COTTON: As it’s written today, this bill in the House of Representatives cannot pass the Senate, and I believe it would have adverse consequences for millions of Americans, and it wouldn’t deliver on our promises to reduce the cost of health insurance for Americans. So I would say to my friends in the House of Representatives with whom I serve: Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote.
George, you were in the White House in 1993. You remember when House Democrats voted for a BTU energy tax. Not only did that not become law, it didn’t even get a vote in the Senate. And the House Democrats lost their next election because they voted on that tax. It’s called “getting BTU’d.” I just do not think that this bill can pass the Senate, and therefore I think the House should take a pause and try to get as close as we can to a good result before they send it to the Senate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you’re saying House Republicans, if they vote for this bill, are going to pay the price without getting any benefit?
COTTON: I’m afraid that if they vote for this bill, they’re going to put the House majority at risk next year. And we have majorities in the House and the Senate, and the White House, not only through to repeal Obamacare and get health care reform right, but reform our taxes and our regulations, and build up our military, and to accomplish many other things. And I don’t want to see the House majority put at risk on a bill that is not going to pass the Senate. That’s why I think we should take a pause, try to solve as many of the problems on both Medicaid and the individual insurance market in this bill in the House, and then allow the Senate to take its work out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard Director Mulvaney, he disputed your view, your analysis that this bill is going to increase premiums for Americans. He says you’re discounting the value of competition.
COTTON: Well, unfortunately, I just don't think this bill, as written, is going create the new conditions necessary for the kind of competition that Director Mulvaney and I, and virtually every other Republican wants.
For instance, this bill leaves most of the Obamacare insurance regulations in place. And it's those regulations that have caused most of the premiums to increase, not just in the Obamacare exchanges, but in the job-based insurance market as well.
We share the same goals of wanting to repeal Obamacare and getting health insurance rates down so people can get access to care. But as this bill is written, as a practical matter, I just don't see that competition occurring as it needs to.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You also heard Director Mulvaney on the CBO. He's questioning the CBO's analysis even before it comes out. Do you believe the Congress Budget Office is going to make the passage of this bill easier or more difficult?
COTTON: Well, George, I don't think the House should have proceeded without a CBO estimate. At the same time, the director of the CBO is not Moses. He doesn't come down from the mountaintops with stone tablets. They're human like the rest of us. They can make mistakes. But they do provide an important amount of information and analysis that allows Senators and Congressmen to make informed choices.
So, whenever that estimate comes out, we need to take it seriously. We don't have to accept everything and every conclusion at face value. But that's one reason why I think we should take a pause and examine all the consequences from every perspective of what is sweeping legislation.
As we said in Obamacare, it's going to remake one-sixth of the American economy. It is going to affect every American in a personal and intimate way. This is not just the latest spending bill that congress passes right before the Christmas break and goes home and can forget about it nine months later. This is permanent legislation trying to remake our healthcare system. We need to get it right, not get it fast.
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