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Rep. Pete Sessions On The Pace Of ACA Repeal

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Some congressional Republicans are openly worried - at least behind closed doors - about how fast their party's moving to repeal the Affordable Care Act. At a meeting this week, lawmakers warned each other about potential political consequences. The Washington Post quoted Representative Tom McClintock as saying, quote, "that's going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we'll be judged in the election less than two years away." Another congressman who expressed concern was Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, who joins us. Mr. Sessions, thanks so much for being with us.

PETE SESSIONS: Good morning.

SIMON: You voted for a budget resolution to allow quick repeal of large parts of the Affordable Care Act. Now you want to slow things down.

SESSIONS: No, I don't think that's what the vote was. The vote was a - was really an order that I had presumptively given from the Rules Committee earlier that authorized committees to begin looking at what this might look at. That was what the vote was.

SIMON: You have concerns about a refundable tax credit to potentially replace parts of the ACA.

SESSIONS: In fact, the discussion about health care has been a healthy one but has not come to a conclusion. As some of your listeners may know, I have a bill with Senator Bill Cassidy that's called The World's Greatest Healthcare Plan. And in that plan it gives every single American that does not today receive the tax benefit that companies - large companies and corporations - allow their people to have, it gives every single American that tax advantage. This tax advantage is some $8,000 for a family of four allowing them on a pretax basis or on a advanceable basis to be able to go to the marketplace and apply $8,000 to a non-government-provided insurance.

This would level the playing field as opposed to others who have suggested it would be a high-standard deduction that all Americans would have, thus allowing them the next April to be able to write that off their taxes. I believe that we must give all Americans an advanceable pretax opportunity to give a tax credit in January of the year that they would want to buy their health care.

SIMON: Do you think it's wise for some members of your party to try to tie repeal of parts of the ACA to defunding Planned Parenthood?

SESSIONS: Let me say this - it is against the law for - and it has been against the law - for the federal government to pay for abortions. This would be a debate that mostly would take place with the executive. As you know, President Obama and any president has a chance to go - we do not specify Planned Parenthood in anything we do. We simply say health care providers. So while I am for not allowing the funding of Planned Parenthood, I don't know it would take shape in this form. I think it would be a law that would need to be debated in the House, passed the House and in the Senate. And that's the issue right there. So would I want this to stop the health care reform? No.

SIMON: I - you know, I have to ask, Congressman, I noticed something in The New York Times edition and The Washington Post. Is there - was there some concern of members of your party about President Trump? Mark Sanford, the congressman from South Carolina, says - was quoted as saying, I think you can move from real to bizarre if you don't watch out and some of what he's done and in tweet world certainly fits that mold. And then he said they were talking about what the president said about counting the popular vote, and Mr. Sanford said a fellow member turned to me and pointed to it and said that's what Third World dictators do.

SESSIONS: Well, let me go to really the issue at hand, which is why I came on, and I'm so delighted to have this opportunity to ask and receive tough questions and to give them back. President Trump and Vice President Pence are personally involved in this issue of health care, and I believe that President Trump believes that every single American, as he said, stands a shot at getting health care. And that is the purpose of this - really this discussion that I want to have with you and the American people. We want to struggle - and that includes with the vice president and the president who I'll meet with this week personally on this matter for all Americans, including disabled people and the American public that need an opportunity to have the tax advantage. And, Scott, as you know, that was what I wanted to talk about today and what you asked me to talk about. The other ideas that President Trump have, we can agree or disagree.

SIMON: Pete Sessions of Texas, thanks very much for being with us, sir.

SESSIONS: Yes, yes, sir. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.