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OVERNIGHT: In late votes, transgender bathroom bill, 10 others sent to House

Cornyn praises GOP health plan; Cruz says it needs a lot of work


Rep. Lloyd Doggett called for “extreme vetting” of the health care plan.

Sen. Cruz, now a key Trump ally, was scheduled to dine with the president in the White House.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, on Wednesday praised the House Republican health care plan as “the most significant entitlement reform in decades.” But U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said the American Health Care Act is very much a work in need of a lot of progress.

“As drafted, I do not believe this bill would pass the United States Senate,” Cruz said in a conference call with Texas reporters, noting that President Donald Trump was “exactly right” when he tweeted Tuesday that the legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare is open to negotiation.

Cruz was to have an opportunity to tell Trump his thoughts on how the bill can be improved at a private dinner Wednesday evening at the White House at which Cruz, his wife, Heidi, and their two daughters, Caroline and Catherine, were expected to dine with the president and first lady.

The dinner, Cruz said, came at the president’s invitation. It demonstrates just how far their relationship has come since their bitter primary rivalry.

Cruz, now a Trump ally, said, “I am working hard to bring people behind repeal and replace legislation that honors our commitments and solves the problem.”

“That is not an easy task, but in my view, we cannot fail,” Cruz said. “For six years, Republicans have campaigned, promising the American people, if you elect us, we will repeal this disaster that is Obamacare that has hurt so many millions of Texans, that’s cost so many people their jobs, forced them into part-time work and seen their health insurance premiums skyrocket, and seen deductibles skyrocket, and seen people able to access fewer and fewer doctors and have less and less control over their health care.”

On the Senate floor, Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, applauded the act for, “putting Medicaid on a more sustainable path: not continuing to spend money that we don’t have and rack up annual deficits, and add to our national debt.”

On the other side of Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, said at a meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee that the GOP plan demands “extreme vetting.”

“Frankly, any vetting at all would be an improvement, because it has not been vetted in any public forum,” Doggett said. “When you buy something new — whether it’s a new pair of pants, a new car, a new appliance — it usually helps to ask two questions: What does it cost? What size is it?”

“On this new insurance plan, we are being asked to vote without knowing how much it costs and without knowing what size it is — how many it covers and how many millions of Americans are once again being left out,” Doggett said. “If you have nothing to hide, a week will not impair your effort.”

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