Republican senator: GOP risks losing House majority if health bill approved

The Arkansas senator said the health bill will fail in the Senate.

March 12, 2017, 11:17 AM

— -- Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said GOP members of the House should not "walk the plank" by approving the Republican health care bill, warning that it could cost the party the House majority and put the entire GOP agenda at risk.

"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," Cotton told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

The Arkansas senator went further, saying on "This Week" Sunday that Republicans are in danger of losing their House majority if they approve the GOP health measure, called the American Health Care Act, proposed last week by House Republican leaders and endorsed by the White House.

"I'm afraid that if they vote for this bill they're going to put the House majority at risk next year," Cotton said.

Cotton has been critical of the legislation that congressional GOP leaders put forward to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

"I’m worried it could make it worse in some ways, that insurance rates could go up and Americans could have even less control over their health care systems," Cotton told ABC’s chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl Thursday.

On "This Week," Cotton said, "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 we send it to the Senate."

When pressed by Stephanopolous to clarify if he was suggesting that House Republicans who vote for the bill "are going to pay the price without getting any benefit," Cotton noted that Republicans have other agenda goals in addition to health care reform.

"We have majorities in the House and the Senate and the White House not only to repeal Obamacare and get health care reform right, but to reform our taxes and our regulations and build up our military and accomplish many other things," Cotton said. "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 up," Cotton said. “The bill probably can be fixed, but it’s going to take a lot of carpentry on that framework."