Boehner Pressed on Obamacare Alternative
As pressure mounts on President Obama to fix problems that persist with his signature healthcare law, Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans are coming under pressure themselves to present an alternative set of reforms.
While the House Republicans have voted 46 times over the past three years to disrupt, dismantle or defund Obamacare, the president has signed off on just seven of those changes.
Republicans have long voiced a preference for patient-centered reforms, but today Boehner was tight-lipped when pressed to vote to replace the president's health care law next year.
"We'll see," Boehner answered when prodded for a commitment. "When you look at Obamacare, what you see is a government-centered health care delivery system. That's not what the American people want. The American people want to be able to pick their own type of health insurance; they want to be able to pick their own doctor; they want to be able to pick their own hospital. That's what a patient-centered health care system looks like."
All year, Democrats have charged the GOP with wasting valuable time on bills that don't stand a chance of being enacted and continue to portray the GOP as the 'Party of Repeal.'
"The Republican healthcare plan for fixing the old broken healthcare system is to go back to the old broken healthcare system," Michael Czin, the national press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, wrote in a statement. "They want to put insurance companies back in the drivers' seat over consumers care while Democrats are unified behind a desire to strengthen Obamacare and expand access to affordable healthcare."
Since Jan. 3, the House has taken 614 roll call votes, while the Senate has voted 246 times. President Obama, Republicans and Democrats came together to enact just 55 of those measures into law.
Although the divided Congress continues working to strike common ground on a slate of lingering tasks over the next two weeks, Boehner placed blame for the record-breaking legislative logjam squarely on Senate Democrats.
"The House has continued to listen to the American people and to focus on their concerns. Now, whether it's the economy, whether it's jobs, whether it's protecting the American people from Obamacare, we've done our work," Boehner said. "When you look at the number of bills passed by the House and the paltry number of bills passed by the Senate, you can see where the problem is."
Even though the Senate was largely praised after it passed a landmark comprehensive immigration overhaul in June, Boehner pointed to his majority's work to get the country's fiscal house in order and pressured Democrats to consider more House-passed measures that have stalled in the upper chamber.
"The House has done more than half the appropriation bills. The Senate has done none, all right?" Boehner said. "The House has done its work on the national defense authorization bill. We did it in June, yet the Senate has failed to act. The way this system of government works, both the House and Senate have to do their jobs. The House continues to do its job. It's time for the Senate to get serious about doing theirs."
Boehner expressed hope that by the end of the year Congress would pass a farm bill and a budget agreement, although conferees negotiating those issues have yet to agree to terms and appear to be stuck at a stalemate.
"I want the farm bill conference to be completed. Chairman Lucas has made a number of good-faith efforts. We can't get Senate Democrats to the point of saying yes," he said. "We've got the same problem when it comes to the budget conference. Chairman Ryan's done a very good job of outlining very serious offers, but we can't get Senate Democrats to say yes. It is time for the other chamber to get serious about getting this work finished."