Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Billby Senator Michael B. Enzi
Posted on 2015-12-03
ENZI. Mr. President, today we also passed the most comprehensive
and far-reaching repeal of ObamaCare that is possible under the
reconciliation rules. We expect the House to pass this version shortly
and soon this repeal will head to the President's desk for the first
time in his tenure.
Our bill will eliminate more than $1.2 trillion in ObamaCare tax hikes and save nearly $400 billion over 10 years. Lifting the burdens this law has placed on hard-working families will help move the Nation forward from ObamaCare's broken promises to better access to patient- centered health care for each and every American.
As I noted earlier, our Nation has made great strides in improving the quality of life for all Americans, but these changes were always forged in the spirit of bipartisan compromise and cooperation. We still need health care reform, but it has to be done the right way. To have good health care, we will have to have ideas from both parties, not just one party.
Tonight we made significant progress to pointing out a bunch of the flaws, [[Page S8367]] and there were a lot of people who were involved in that and I wish to take this opportunity to thank them.
We gave instructions to the Finance Committee and the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee that they were each to save $1 billion. So Senator Hatch and his staff went to work on it, and Senator Alexander and his staff went to work on it, and they accomplished that task in conjunction with the House. So I thank them for their effort.
I thank the Republican staff of the Senate Budget Committee, and especially my staff director, Eric Ueland; as well as my deputy staff director, Dan Kowalski; the parliamentarian, Tori Gorman; the senior budget analyst, Steve Robinson; the budget analysts, Greg D'Angelo and Tom Borck; the junior budget analyst, Kaitlin Vogt; the chief counsel, George Everly; the assistant counsel, Clint Brown; the director of regulatory review, Susan Eckerly; and the editor, Elizabeth Keys.
I also wish to thank the people on my personal staff who had to put some of their projects kind of secondary at times and then had to pitch in and help with the budget as well.
I also want to express my appreciation to the staff from Leader McConnell's office. Leader McConnell is a tremendous strategist and has opened the process for the Senate so that great things like the highway bill can be done, and that is done by allowing committees to do amendments, and then allowing the committee bill to come to the floor and have amendments from both sides of the aisle in an open process, and then to go to conference committee and have the conference committee do their work to make sure that the House and the Senate are together. Some of the chief people who worked on that are the chief of staff, Sharon Soderstrom; his policy advisor, Scott Raab; his budget and appropriations policy advisor, Jon Burks; and his policy director, Hazen Marshall. In addition, our floor and cloakroom staff has been very helpful, led by Laura Dove and Robert Duncan.
Senator Cornyn and his staff did a marvelous job of helping to find out what difficulties there were and what things needed to be corrected. Senator Thune did a great job of lining up speakers, and Senator Barrasso did a great job with his staff in lining up some of the messaging.
Thanks are due to the Senate Finance Committee, including the staff director, Chris Campbell; the chief health counsel and policy director, Jay Khosla; and the health policy advisor, Katie Simeon; the tax counsel, Preston Rutledge; and the health policy advisor, Becky Shipp.
I extend my gratitude to the staff of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, as well as Senator Alexander, who has done a marvelous job there. I thank his staff director, David Cleary, his deputy staff director, Lindsey Seidman, his senior policy adviser and health council, Liz Wroe, and his health policy director, Mary Sumpter Lapinski.
I also need to thank the former budget staff people who lent their expertise on this, particularly Bill Hoagland.
We are in a process that may help with some of the future accounting for projects and things and that is to do some budget reform. A lot of people have talked about budgeting reform and we have been doing some hearings on budget reform. We will be putting together a bill, and to make it a bipartisan bill it will have to go into effect in 2017. At that point nobody will know who will be in the majority, so we will all work to have a process that will be fair to both sides just in case we happen to be in the minority or the other side happens to be in the minority.
So we have a lot of people on both sides who have been working on that issue, and we will hold a number of hearings yet and hopefully come up with a process where we can get rid of old programs, eliminate duplication, and make the programs that we have be far better. Some of the people who have worked on that in the past have been Senator Domenici, who was the chairman of the committee; Senator Gregg, who was the chairman of the committee; and Senator Patty Murray, who was the chairman of the Budget Committee. One of the early ones, Senator Phil Gramm, has donated some of his time to come and work with both sides to take a look at what some of the future economic problems are, and he is also one of the foremost economic predictors, so we can make sure all of those things will come together as we work on future budgets.
Of course, I would be grossly in error if I didn't mention the House chairman of the Budget Committee, Tom Price. He and I have been meeting at least once a week with our staffs and coordinating what is being done on both sides, both from a process standpoint, from a policy standpoint, from a bill standpoint, and from a budget standpoint. I think that paid off in what we are seeing tonight.
Last and particularly not least, I need to think the Parliamentarians. I need to thank Elizabeth MacDonough, Leigh Hildebrand, Michael Beaver, Thomas Cuffie. These are some unsung heroes of the U.S. Senate who do a bipartisan--a nonpartisan job for us of kind of refereeing when asked, and when you are doing a reconciliation bill, you are forced to ask. I had no idea what the process was and the difficulty and the time that is involved, but all of that was spent by the Parliamentarians.
We are all familiar with the rule book that is in every one of these desks and about this thick. That is a small part of it. In their office, they have file cabinets full of precedents. If you are drafting a bill that has to meet the kind of rules and the tight constraints that a reconciliation bill has, they have to meet with you on a regular basis and give their opinion and review all of these precedents to see if it can be put together the way we think it ought to be put together to be sure that when it comes to the floor, it can be voted on and when it is done, it actually is a bill that will be possible to send to the President's desk.
So I thank the Parliamentarians for presiding. I know the tremendous job they do of advising whoever sits in the Presiding Officer's chair, but this was a whole new level of instruction as I found out all of the things that they have to have as a part of their knowledge, and I really appreciate the effort they go to, the knowledge they already have, and the important role they play in this process.
I know I left out a lot of people, but to anybody who participated, I want to thank them for their efforts and hope that out of all of these budget processes, what we come up with is a better America.
I yield the floor, and I thank the chairman.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.