U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger said Thursday that congressional Republicans have to show “that we can govern” by passing a health care plan before moving on to other policy issues.
“At some point people have to recognize that we need to govern, we’re not there to throw rocks,” Pittenger said on WBT radio. “We need to convey to the American people that we can govern … We can’t really move on to tax reform until we’ve done it.”
The Charlotte Republican was a guest on WBT’s morning program, where he answered questions from host Scott Fitzgerald and listeners.
Pittenger also defended President Donald Trump’s actions in Syria and suggested that some Syrian refugees could be trained to fight the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
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As he has before, Pittenger called the Affordable Care Act “a colossal failure.”
A proposed Republican replacement bill backed by Trump fell apart last month when GOP leaders failed to get support from their most conservative members. After the collapse, Trump said he was moving on to tax overhaul. But this week he shifted again, putting health care back atop his agenda.
Pittenger criticized the premiums and deductibles under so-called Obamacare. A caller pushed back, asking, “Where in the world are you getting your information?”
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, premiums under Obamacare were expected to rise faster in 2017 than in previous years. In Charlotte, Kaiser said, the premium for the most common plan would rise from $409 to $572, though the federal tax credit also would rise, essentially canceling out the increase.
Pittenger said any new health care plan should give states more power to decide what to cover.
The congressman defended Trump’s missile attack on a Syrian air base in response to the government’s use of chemical weapons.
“I think the world understands that when America is strong, the world is secure,” he said. “So I believe what President Trump did was very measured in the response to this chemical attack.”
Pittenger said he passed along to the president a suggestion he heard from the Emir of Qutar: that able-bodied refugees be trained to fight the regime.
“There are refugees out there, able-bodied young men, who are fully capable of taking back their country,” he said.