Sen. Ron Johnson said he wants to see the GOP repeal the Affordable Care Act if his party wins the White House and the House and Senate majorities in 2024, a move that would resurrect a fight that Republicans had waged for nearly a decade, then largely abandoned in 2018.
In an interview that aired Monday morning on Breitbart News Radio, Johnson (R-Wis.) said the GOP’s main goal was to obstruct President Biden and Democrats’ agenda until, he hoped, Republicans could win the majorities in the House and Senate in the midterm elections this year. If Republicans also won the White House in 2024, he added, that would be when they could “actually make good on what we established as our priorities.”
“For example, if we’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare — I still think we need to fix our health-care system — we need to have the plan ahead of time so that once we get in office, we can implement it immediately, not knock around like we did last time and fail,” Johnson said, referring to the signature legislation passed under President Barack Obama.
The last time Republicans controlled Congress and the White House, under President Donald Trump, the GOP’s long-promised efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act failed, with three moderate Republicans refusing to support their party’s plan.
Since Biden took office, Obamacare has only grown more popular. The White House announced last year that about 31 million Americans now have health-care coverage through the ACA, a record high since the law was enacted in 2010. About 2.8 million people signed up for Affordable Care Act health plans during an unprecedented, six-month special enrollment period that Biden authorized to help Americans find insurance coverage during the coronavirus pandemic.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Biden ordered an extended three-month enrollment period last year for people to buy health insurance through the ACA’s federal marketplaces at HealthCare.gov. During that special enrollment period, more than 1.2 million additional Americans enrolled in health-care plans through Obamacare, the White House said.
It is unclear how fervently other GOP members of Congress and candidates would support a plan to repeal and replace the ACA at this point. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been adamant that the Senate GOP will not release a platform ahead of the midterm election, saying the party needs to reveal its plans for running Congress only “when we take it back.”
Representatives from McConnell and Johnson’s offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday as to whether Johnson had consulted with the GOP leader about his desire to see the party form a plan to repeal and replace the ACA.
McConnell last week publicly rejected a proposal by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who in February released an 11-point “Rescue America” plan that would require all Americans to pay some form of income tax, eliminate the Education Department, build Trump’s border wall and declare that there are only two genders.
“If we’re fortunate enough to have the majority next year, I’ll be the majority leader. I’ll decide in consultation with my members what to put on the floor,” McConnell told reporters last week. “Let me tell you what would not be a part of our agenda: We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years.”
In the Breitbart radio interview that aired Monday, Johnson said he supported “most” of Scott’s proposal, according to a clip of the interview posted by American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic group.
“Do I agree with everything on it? Well, most of it,” Johnson said. “I would have changes to certain things, but I think it’s a positive thing.”
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the party’s Senate campaign arm, seized on Johnson’s comments Monday, accusing him of “pushing the agenda of the ultra-rich and big corporations.”
“Voters are learning exactly what Republicans will do with a Senate majority, in their own words: raise taxes on seniors and working families, end Medicare and Social Security — and once again try to spike the cost of health care while ripping away coverage protections from Americans with pre-existing conditions,” DSCC spokeswoman Amanda Sherman-Baity said in a statement.
Amy Goldstein contributed to this report.