Despite pushback from several conservative think tanks and Republican lawmakers, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway says President Donald Trump is "very confident" the GOP's Obamacare replacement bill will pass.
"President Trump is very confident about the passage of the American Health Care Act for many reasons," Conway told Fox News' Bill Hemmer on Wednesday. "Just yesterday, here in the White House, he and the vice president invited in 35 or so whips from the House to discuss this very issue."
The Trump adviser made the comment after Hemmer pointed out that much of the opposition to the House GOP health care proposal — which was introduced Monday by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — has been largely Republican.
On Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told the hosts of Fox News' "Fox and Friends" the exact opposite of what Conway is suggesting. In its current state, Paul said, the AHCA "will not pass" Congress.
"This is Obamacare lite. It will not pass. Conservatives aren’t gonna take it," Paul said. "Premiums and prices will continue to spiral out of control."
In a joint Fox News op-ed with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who heads the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Paul argued that the GOP health care bill keeps "Obamacare-like subsidies to buy insurance but rename[s] them refundable tax credits."
Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), a member of the Freedom Caucus, told Politico that he would vote against the AHCA in its current state because it "maintains many of the federal features, including a new entitlement program, as well as most of the insurance regulations."
"Now [they] are saying we’re going to do repeal and replace but the bill does nothing of the sort," he told the outlet. "Paul Ryan has always said the entire rationale for this bill is to bend the cost curve down, and so far, I have seen no evidence that this bill will bring the cost curve down."
The law isn't getting much love from conservative advocacy groups, either.
Heritage Action for America, the advocacy organization associated with the conservative Heritage Foundation, says the AHCA "fails to move past Obamacare's progressive promise."
Michael A. Needham, CEO of Heritage Action, had this to say about the proposal:
In many ways, the House Republican proposal released last night not only accepts the flawed progressive premises of Obamacare but expands upon them. Ronald Reagan once said, "Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." The AHCA does all three.
And Jason Pye, the director of public policy and legislative affairs at FreedomWorks, said in a statement that the AHCA is nothing more than "Obamacare Lite" and "an individual mandate by another name."
"We're 100 percent behind the efforts of [Republican Sens.] Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and the House Freedom Caucus to bring real patient-centered alternatives to replace Obamacare," he said.
FreedomWorks also announced Tuesday a six-figure ad buy to "take down" the GOP Obamacare replacement bill.
"Our activists are furious at this betrayal and at this step toward breaking campaign promises made for the better part of the decade," Noah Wall, FreedomWorks' national director of campaigns, said in a statement on the matter.
And in a web ad of its own, the conservative advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, called on Republicans to "keep your promise" by fully repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Trump offered his support for the AHCA shortly after it was introduced, calling the proposal "wonderful." While the president said the bill will now face "negotiation," Conway seemed to suggest that neither the White House nor House leadership are willing to move that much.
"We appreciate the fact that others are offering their ideas, but this has been worked on over a series of weeks — if not months — and the president and vice president have really taken leadership here," she told the Fox host.
In a news conference Tuesday, Ryan seemed equally as confident that the AHCA will become the law of the land.
"We will have 218 votes when this thing comes to the floor. I can guarantee you that," the speaker said.