House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed Sunday that his Republican-led chamber will indeed repeal and replace ObamaCare, after Donald Trump appeared last week to backpedal on a campaign promise by saying he will consider keeping parts of the health care law.
“We will repeal and replace ObamaCare,” McCarthy, a California Republican, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It has to change.”
McCarthy, the chamber's No. 2 Republican behind House Speaker Paul Ryan, spoke one day before Congress returns to Washington for a so-called lame duck session, which will include passing a budget to avoid a looming government shutdown and preparing for several of Trump’s “Day One” promises when assuming office January 20.
Those vows include scrapping ObamaCare and starting to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out illegal immigrants.
Trump said last week after meeting with President Obama at the White House that he would consider amending the president's struggling health care law.
Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told “Fox News Sunday” earlier in the show that Trump will make the consideration “out of respect” for the outgoing president.
McCarthy said some of the ObamaCare changes suggested by the Trump team -- including allowing people to enroll with pre-existing health conditions -- are already part of the “Republican ideas” that the party couldn’t get passed in Congress and signed by Obama.
“Americans should be a leader in health care and not have continual rise in price,” he said.
McCarthy said GOP's agenda this session will not include further investigations of defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server system while secretary of state.
House Republicans launched their own probe of Clinton after the FBI in July declined to recommend criminal charges.
And the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held several high-profile hearings on her server before the election
Ryan returns to Capitol Hill this week to face some rank-and-file conservative members upset that he kept Trump at arm’s length throughout much of the campaign, a political stance that is expected to cause some internal GOP struggles over at least the next couple of months.
McCarthy on Sunday said that congressional Republicans will, upon returning to the Hill, begin working on such issues as tax reform, infrastructure and border security, in addition to ObamaCare, known formally as the Affordable Care Act.
“There are so many places we can come together, even bipartisan,” McCarthy said. “We're not waiting for the inauguration.”
He said that the United States has to “put up a wall” to secure the country’s southern border -- a promise Trump made on the first day of his campaign.
“You do have to put up a wall,” said McCarthy, while also arguing stretches in remote regions could be done with “virtual” walls like airplanes or drones.
"I think that is very doable and one of the first things that needs to be done," McCarthy said.
He said plans to deport illegal immigrants will be a “difficult” task without first securing the border.
McCarthy acknowledged that the county needs better trade deals, as Trump argued on the campaign trail. But he suggested scrapping them could lead to an international trade war, taking the position of many fiscal conservatives.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.