Senior White House official Kellyanne Conway made the case for some intraparty conflict in remarks Friday.
“I’m happy that the Republican Party is not a party just in lockstep, always agreeing with each other,” Conway said at the National Review Institute’s Ideas Summit.
On the issue of health care, Conway referred to the GOP as “a big party with diverse opinions,” which she contrasted with Democrats, who she said are “beholden to the extreme elements of their party.”
“I don’t really see that on the left,” Conway said. “Where are the blue dog democrats? Where are the pro-life Democrats? Where are the pro-Second Amendment Democrats? They just don’t exist anymore.”
Conway went on to describe White House and congressional leadership’s three-phase approach to replacing Obamacare.
Phase one is the American Health Care Act—the proposed Affordable Care Act replacement bill currently being opposed by many conservative members of the House and Senate.
Phase two, according to Conway, will be about allowing the health and human services secretary to reform regulations.
“[Health and Human Services Secretary] Tom Price has the latitude to look at and eliminate regulations … [he will] look at every rule and regulation and decide if that helps or harms citizens, and if it harms patients, it’s out of there,” Conway said.
Conway’s explanation for the second phase includes Price replacing the current regulatory system with something that is more patient-centric and free market-focused.
She described phase three as the part where “a lot of the goodies come in … where you see the interstate mobility, and it’s also going to tackle tort reform and get control of drug pricing.”
Conway said that passing the supposed “third phase” could prove difficult, as Republican senators would not only have to be completely unified on the bill, they would also have to recruit eight Democrats to vote for it.
However, she said she was hopeful about the possibility of the third phase becoming law, saying:
You’re not going to see Democratic senators vote to repeal Obamacare, but they may vote to replace it and it also depends on what is in the third phase, what we cobble up together in that third phase that does appeal to them.
Conway compared the GOP’s health care struggles to the Affordable Care Act’s passage, citing that Obamacare failed several times before becoming law in 2010.
“It’s always a process, [but] the president is confident that repealing and replacing Obamacare will be realized,” she concluded.