Speaker Ryan: 'I'm really excited' about GOP's ObamaCare replacement

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., defended congressional Republicans' health care bill from conservative criticism Wednesday night, telling Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight" that "all House Republicans participated" in drafting the legislation.

"We spent a year working on this plan," Ryan told host Tucker Carlson. "We all ran for Congress in 2016 on that plan ... This is the legislative text of that plan that we ran in 2016 on what we would replace ObamaCare with."

Ryan added that the plan was modeled after legislation proposed by then-Rep. Tom Price, now secretary of Health and Human Services.

House Republican leaders Wednesday began driving the bill through two key committees — Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce — but neither panel seemed close to approving the bill as the clock ticked toward midnight in Washington.

The plan has been criticized by key industry, consumer and conservative groups — as well as the House Freedom Caucus, a group of more than 40-plus Republican lawmakers who say the bill does nothing to lower healthcare costs.

When pressed, Ryan told Carlson that "12 Freedom Caucus members were the co-sponsors of that bill as recently as December."

"We are going through what I would call the sort of typical growing pains from being an opposition party fighting Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to a governing party," the Speaker added, "and now we’re translating that legislation – that plan into a bill. Look, I'm really excited."