Speaker Ryan dented by healthcare
debacle, but keeps support
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[March 25, 2017]
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House Speaker
Paul Ryan on Friday acknowledged the unthinkable for a Republican
leader: he could not deliver the votes to repeal and replace Obamacare,
even though he and his fellow Republicans had vowed to do so for seven
Nevertheless, Ryan's job did not seem to be under immediate threat, at
least not in the House of Representatives he leads.
Ryan's long-time news media nemesis, the website Breitbart, said
Republicans were "openly discussing" finding a replacement for him after
he pulled a bill to roll back Obamacare from the House floor just
minutes before an intensely awaited final vote. The Breitbart article
did not quote anyone by name.
In the House, just after the bill was pulled, several lawmakers brushed
aside suggestions that the failure spelled trouble for Ryan, the 2012
Republican vice presidential candidate, who many have speculated has
Ryan, 47, has been speaker since October 2015. Under the law, he is next
in line to the presidency after Vice President Mike Pence.
Republican Representative Justin Amash, a harsh critic of the ill-fated
healthcare bill, told reporters, "We can do better with the legislative
process." But, he added, "Nobody is talking about" trying to oust Ryan
Amash had disparagingly dubbed the Republican healthcare bill "Obamacare
2.0," after Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature
domestic policy achievement, the 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly
known as Obamacare.
Amash is a member of the hard-line conservative Freedom Caucus, which in
2015 ousted Ryan's predecessor as speaker, John Boehner, from the post.
The caucus played a key role in the demise of the healthcare bill.
Ryan chose to make healthcare reform the first target on a list of
legislative goals for the new Republican-majority Congress. He admitted
on Friday that he was disappointed by the outcome.
[to top of second column]
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) holds a news conference after
Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act bill to repeal and
replace the Affordable Care Act act known as Obamacare, prior to a
vote at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 24, 2017.
Republicans faced resistance to the healthcare bill from both
conservatives and moderates, making the process of winning passage
difficult for the leadership.
Republican Representative Joe Barton, asked about the impact of
Friday's loss on Ryan, told reporters: "The speaker is a human
being. He's not Superman."
Republican Representative Barry Loudermilk, who backed the
healthcare bill, said he didn't think the loss weakened the
One Republican lawmaker who has been considered potential speaker
material, Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, effusively praised
Ryan, saying he had shown "phenomenal leadership."
"It is my hope that we can regroup and rally behind him (Ryan) and
the president as a conference to deliver on our promise" to
dismantle Obamacare, Hensarling said in a statement.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Dustin Volz; Editing by
Kevin Drawbaugh and Jonathan Oatis)
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