Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Wednesday that the Republicans will be a “laughing stock” if they fail to make good on their years-long promise to fully repeal former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“The time for talk is over. Now is the time for action,” Cruz said, the Washington Examiner reported. “Failure is not an option. If Republicans take this opportunity and blow it, we will rightly be considered a laughing stock.”
The Texas senator made the comments during a rally in Washington, D.C., by FreedomWorks to speak out against the House GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, which was introduced last week by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
The 36-member House Budget Committee will vote on the bill Thursday.
“We have the opportunity to do an enormous amount of good. Now, we could screw it up. We could very easily screw it up,” Cruz continued. “But I believe we are poised for this to be the most productive Congress in decades.”
Several lawmakers in the conservative wing of the Republican Party have distanced themselves from the House Republicans' health care proposal.
Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the AHCA “will not pass” Congress, calling the legislation “Obamacare Lite.” He and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, wrote in a Fox News op-ed that one of their chief concerns is that the Republican bill “keep[s] Obamacare-like subsidies to buy insurance but rename them refundable tax credits.”
And Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), also a member of the Freedom Caucus who has been very critical of the GOP proposal, said Wednesday that he plans to vote against the bill on Thursday. Brat is one of three Freedom Caucus members on the Budget Committee, and if all three caucus members vote against the AHCA, it would only take one other committee member to block the bill from advancing to the House floor, according to Politico.
At the end of the day, regardless of what happens with the AHCA, Cruz said the GOP must keep its promise to repeal Obamacare in full.
“We must honor our promise and repeal Obamacare,” he said. “For six years, Republicans have campaigned over and over and over again saying, ‘If only you'd give us the House, we'll repeal Obamacare,’ ‘If you only give us the Senate, we'll repeal Obamacare,’ ‘If only you give us the White House, we'll repeal Obamacare.’ You know what? We're out of excuses.”
While Cruz said he does not believe the AHCA “gets the job done” in its current state, he told reporters that the proposal can be salvaged, citing the White House’s “active part in negotiating improvements” to the plan.