Sen. Tom Cotton to the House: Do Not Walk the Plank and Vote for a Bill that Cannot Pass the Senate

PTom Cotton

During an appearance on today’s edition of ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Sen Tom Cotton, asked by Stephanopoulos whether he thought the Republican health care bill entitled the “American Health Care Act” could be fixed, said the bill probably can be fixed but it’s going to take a lot of work, the bill can’t pass the Senate as it is written today and warned the House of Representatives that they should not “walk the plank” by approving the Republican health care bill because it could cost the party the House majority and put the entire GOP agenda at risk:


COTTON: I believe it [The American Health Care Act] would have adverse consequences for millions of Americans and it wouldn’t deliver on our promises to reduce the cost of health insurance for Americans.

So, I would say to my friends in the House of Representatives with whom I serve, do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote. . . .

I just do not think that this bill can pass the Senate. And therefore, I think the House should take a pause and try to get as close as we can to a good result before they send to it the Senate.

Stephanopoulos then asked Cotton if House Republicans are going to pay a price without getting any benefit if the vote for this bill? Cotton replied that Republicans are in danger of losing their House majority if they approve the GOP health bill proposed last week by House Republican leaders and endorsed by the White House:

COTTON: I’m afraid that if they vote for this bill, they’re going to put the House majority at risk next year. And we have majorities in the House and the Senate and the White House, not only to repeal Obamacare and get healthcare reform right, but to reform our taxes and our regulations and build up our military and to accomplish many other things.

And I don’t want to see the House majority put at risk on a bill that is not going to pass the Senate. That’s why I think we should take a pause, try to solve as many as the problems on both Medicaid and the individual insurance market in this bill in the House and then allow the Senate to take its work up.


After Stephanopoulos mentioned that the  director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, disagrees with Cotton, the Senator went on to say he doesn’t think the bill, as written, will create the new conditions necessary for the kind of competition virtually every Republican wants:

COTTON: Well, unfortunately, I just don’t think this bill, as written, is going create the new conditions necessary for the kind of competition that Director Mulvaney and I and virtually every other Republican wants. . . .

We share the same goals of wanting to repeal Obamacare and getting health insurance rates down so people can get access to care. But as this bill is written, as a practical matter, I just don’t see that competition occurring as it needs to.

When asked about Mulvaney questioning the Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) scoring  of the bill even before it comes out. Cotton said the House should not have proceeded without the CBO estimate:

COTTON: Well, George, I don’t think the House should have proceeded without a CBO estimate. At the same time, the director of the CBO is not Moses. He doesn’t come down from the mountaintops with stone tablets. They’re human like the rest of us. They can make mistakes. But they do provide an important amount of information and analysis that allows senators and Congressmen to make informed choices.

So, whenever that estimate comes out, we need to take it seriously. We don’t have to accept everything and every conclusion at face value. But that’s one reason why I think we should take a pause and examine all the consequences from every perspective of what is sweeping legislation.


At the conclusion of Cotton’s appearance he reminded us that health care is one-sixth of the American economy so the effort to remake our healthcare system needs to be done right.


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