Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday said “inaction is not an option” when it comes to ObamaCare, as the administration pressures senators to vote to begin debate on repealing former President Barack Obama’s health care law in the coming days.
“Now, this week, the Senate will vote to begin the debate to repeal and replace ObamaCare once and for all,” Pence said in Columbus, Ohio at the Ohio Republican Party State Dinner. “The president and I are calling on every member of the Senate to support that measure.”
He added, “Republicans know inaction is not an option. America needs to be delivered from ObamaCare and Congress needs to act to repeal and replace ObamaCare and they need to do it now.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will hold a procedural vote to repeal ObamaCare in the upcoming week. This procedural vote, known as a motion to proceed, starts debate on a bill.
The Senate Republicans’ latest bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare collapsed last week after too many Republican senators objected to its details. In response, President Trump has called on Congress to just repeal the law and figure out a replacement later.
But McConnell may not have the votes for this effort either: a number of Republicans have signaled they are against legislation that would repeal ObamaCare without offering a replacement.
Republicans have 52 seats in the Senate. McConnell can lose only two Republican votes if all Democrats vote against the effort.
Speaking Saturday about the effort to pass health care legislation, Pence said: “The truth is ObamaCare has failed. And ObamaCare must go. Now, the House of Representatives, these great congressmen here, have already done their work.”
He painted Democrats as obstructionists and called on the Republicans in attendance to work to defeat the state’s Democratic senator.
“It’s important to note in this moment, though, that Republicans have faced opposition from every single Democrat in the House and Senate, including Ohio’s own Sen. Sherrod Brown,” Pence said.
He added, “So could you do America a favor? Let’s retire Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2018 and give Ohio two great Republican senators.”
Pence, who served in the House of Representatives before being elected governor of Indiana, warned the Republicans in attendance against the possibility of Democrats reclaiming control of Congress.
“You know, you really don’t have to wonder what would happen if Democrats retook the Congress,” he said. “I was there the last time it happened. The last time Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats ran the Congress. They nearly ran America into the ground.”
At the beginning of his speech, Pence offered praise for the state’s Republican governor, John Kasich, with whom he had a public back-and-forth earlier in the week over the state of health care in Ohio.
“You know, I’ve known your governor for a long time,” Pence said. “And John and I occasionally have differences of opinion. You know, there’s one thing we can all agree on. Ohio is a great state and John Kasich has done a great job as governor of the state of Ohio.”