STATEMENT: CAP’s Neera Tanden: Speaker Ryan Setting up a Bait and Switch on Conference Committee Process

Washington, D.C.— Earlier today, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) held a news conference to state that they would vote for the so-called “skinny repeal” bill if leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives guaranteed a conference committee to continue work on the bill. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tonight released a statement that discussed the possibility of the House forming a conference committee. In response to these developments, Center for American Progress President and CEO Neera Tanden released the following statement:

If there’s anything that has become clear in this process, it’s that scoring a political win—even when it comes at a cost of millions losing their health care—is at the top of the agenda for Congressional Republican leaders.

Paul Ryan could have made clear that the House would form a conference committee with the Senate. He pointedly did not. Instead, he gave every indication that the ‘skinny repeal’ would be acceptable to the House if legislators are unable to pass even more radical legislation that would include big cuts to Medicaid and lead to even greater cost increases.

While several Senate Republicans called ‘skinny repeal’ a ‘disaster’ and a ‘fraud,’ Paul Ryan lauded the bill’s ‘important reforms.’ There’s absolutely zero reason to believe that Speaker Ryan will bring the ‘skinny repeal’ legislation that sits before the Senate to a conference committee—and the statement he issued tonight makes clear that he is leaving the door wide open to simply take up and pass the Senate’s broken and piecemeal legislation that will cost 16 million people their health care and increase premiums by 20 percent.

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at or 202.478.6331.