Sen. Thune: Alexander-Murray plan is a 'bridge project'

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 17, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, "YOUR WORLD" HOST: The read from Washington on all these fast-moving developments from Senator John Thune of South Dakota of the Senate Finance Committee, Senate Republican Conference chair as well.

Senator, very good to have you.

SEN. JOHN THUNE, R-SOUTH DAKOTA: Nice to be with you. Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: What do you think is happening on this seemingly bipartisan deal backed by the president on a health care rework that would at least give it a short-term fix, enough to, I guess, help exchanges or those exchanges that are left and provide funds for those who need help affording premiums?

THUNE: I think you can describe it as a bridge project, Neil. It's an attempt to try and get us from where we are today to a time when we have the votes, have a more comprehensive repeal and replacement of ObamaCare.

But it provides stability in the marketplace, provides some -- the states some flexibility. We're looking at it. Everybody is trying to digest the details. But give Senator Alexander and others great credit for at least attempting work with the administration, with the president and his team to come up with a solution in the near term that will keep the markets stable until such time as we can more fully repeal and replace ObamaCare.

CAVUTO: You're talking about Lamar Alexander, who worked with Democrat Patty Murray to come up with this.

THUNE: Right.

CAVUTO: But the president apparently was involved in this. Did you know that?

THUNE: The president -- yes, the president has been involved.


THUNE: And I think that what his -- what his -- when he announced that he wasn't going to fund the cost-sharing payments, basically, I think it was an eye toward putting on -- pressure on Congress to come up with a solution.

And his counsel advised him that he didn't have legal authority to continue to make those payments. I think he was hoping that by now we would have a more robust repeal and replacement bill in place.

But since we don't, like I said, I think this represents an attempt to try and build a bridge until that -- such time when we can come up with a bigger replacement bill, but at least takes care of the near-term issues.

And so the president has been consulting with Senator Alexander and with others about how best to do this. And I think there's been, as a result of that consultation, a lot of forward movement.


THUNE: We will see again. You always got to look at the details, Neil. And I haven't had an opportunity yet to circle back and get a deep-dive explanation about how all this might work. But it is an attempt I think to try and move the ball down the field.

CAVUTO: If the president likes it, Senator, will you feel increased pressure to vote for it?

THUNE: I think if this is something that the president believes is useful in terms of getting to us that day when we can vote on Graham-Cassidy and we have 50 votes in the Senate, then I think I'm included to be for something that will at least in the near term provide the kind of stability in the marketplace that we need.

But, again, the devil is in the details. And I want to see what these flexibilities to the state include. They need to be real, the flexibility that we're giving the states, and with respect to waivers and those sorts of things.

And if that satisfies the concerns that I have, you know, I can see myself being someone who would be inclined to be for this. But, again, I need to look at the details.


CAVUTO: I'm sorry, sir.

Rand Paul has indicated that, as things stand now, unless the middle class end up getting a net tax cut with allowances and all and deductions that might be taken away or not, it would be tough for him to vote for this.

Lindsey Graham came out later on and wondered whether the senator was automatically going to be a no regardless. So, they have kind of been sniping at each other. Does that worry you when you see that kind of stuff?

THUNE: Well, you always want to see those discussions stay within the family. I guess that's the problem with Twitter accounts. Everybody can now have kind of stream of consciousness.


CAVUTO: Do you have a Twitter account, Senator?

THUNE: Well, I do. I do.


THUNE: But I try...


THUNE: I try to use it sparingly, I guess I would say, Neil.

But, no, I think that it's important that all of our members try and get to where they can be for tax reform. Tax reform is critical to economic growth. We have had this conversation before. And you and I both know that if we want the growth rate back up to where it should be in this country and create better-paying jobs and higher wages and bigger paychecks for American workers, we have got to reform our outdated tax code.

And the only way you can reform the tax code is to get -- is to pass a budget. Budget resolution is on the floor this week. I hope in the end that we can have all Republican senators vote for it.

CAVUTO: All right.

THUNE: If we do, I predict in the end we will have Democrats that will be for tax reform, too, Neil, because it's going to be very popular, I think, when it's all said and done.

CAVUTO: All right, if you start sending out sniping tweets, game over, Senator.



CAVUTO: All right, thank you very, very much. Good seeing you again.

THUNE: All right. Yes, thanks, Neil.


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