Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Wednesday that repealing the Affordable Care Act was part of keeping promises Republicans — including President-elect Donald Trump — made on the campaign trail.
“Make no mistake about it,” Pence told reporters after meeting with GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “We’re going to keep our promise to the American people — we’re going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with solutions that lower the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government.”
At the same time President Barack Obama was huddled with House Democrats across the Capitol — urging them not to “rescue” the GOP by giving them a few votes to help pass “something worse” — Pence was instructing Republicans to argue they are only trying to clean up Democrats’ mess.
Pence, who was a congressman before serving as Indiana’s governor, recalled his time in the House and accused Democrats of breaking the promises made at the time.
“The reality is that I was here in March of 2010 in another capacity when Obamacare was signed into law,” Pence said alongside other GOP leaders including House Speaker Paul Ryan. “I remember all those promises. We were told that if you like your doctor, you can keep it. Not true.”
Pence and Speaker Ryan repeatedly dodged questions about the specifics of their plan to replace Obamacare. Ryan reiterated his vow they wouldn’t “pull the rug out” from anyone, but declined to explain what people could expect to see as the GOP dismantles the current system and develops something to put in its place
Pence told House Republicans that the Trump administration doesn’t want — or plan to have — any coverage disruptions for the 20 million Americans insured through the Affordable Care Act as Congress works to repeal it and replace it with an alternative that has not yet been determined.
The closed-door meetings with Pence and Obama both focused largely on how to sell the parties’ approach to voters.
Pence’s meeting came as the President-elect tweeted — in a reference to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — that the GOP shouldn’t “let the Schumer clowns out of this web.”
Pence’s role in Washington
Rep. Chris Collins, a New York Republican and Trump ally, said Pence would play a “lead role” and that Republicans need to have details on what they plan to do nailed down in time for insurers and the public to plan for changes. He said Republicans are eying the goal of having details of their Obamacare replacement in the form of a legislative proposal in six months.
As Trump prepares to take office, Pence — a 12-year veteran of Congress — is becoming his liaison to Capitol Hill. Trump is even tapping Marc Short, a longtime Pence aide and Koch brothers operative, as his legislative adviser.
Pence — who will already have an office across the Capitol as president of the Senate — will also have a House office. It’s an unusual arrangement for a vice president, but one that underscores Pence’s close ties to House Republican leaders with whom Trump has at times quarreled.