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Transcript: Sen. John Barrasso on "Face the Nation," July 23, 2017

John Barrasso: Obamacare
Sen. John Barrasso: "This is our chance" to change Obamacare 05:11

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's abrupt resignation after the hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director ended another volatile week for President Donald Trump. 

The president wanted to celebrate six months in office by focusing on his "Made in America" agenda. But Mr. Trump's party failed, again, to get enough votes to even bring a health care bill to the Senate Floor despite his push for action. 

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, who is a member of the Republican Senate leadership, joined "Face the Nation" Sunday. He discussed what Tuesday's health care vote is about, and why there hasn't been a bipartisan approach on legislation.

A transcript of the interview with Barasso, which aired July 23, 2017, is below.

JOHN DICKERSON: And joining us now is Senator John Barrasso who is a member of the Republican leadership team, and there have been a lot of health care meetings in your office, Senator. The president wants repeal and replace. What is going to get voted on next Tuesday?

SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: Well, it's a vote, a motion to proceed to the bill that passed the House. That then comes to the Senate, and then we can vote, once we get on that bill, to amend it in various ways. And lots of members have different ideas on how it should be best amended to replace what is really a failing Obama health care plan.

JOHN DICKERSON: When you talk about the motion to proceed, that means basically to begin conversation. Is - There have been some senators who've expressed that they will vote against that. Not even begin talking. Where does that stand right now?

SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: We're continuing to work with all of the members. We're getting much closer to that. We are going to vote this week. And I think until the vote is actually on the floor of the Senate, some people may not tell you what they're actually going to do.

But we all got elected to legislate. And that's why we're here. You know, people have campaigned, Republicans, over the years to repeal and replace Obamacare. This is our chance. And I think it - it's hard to believe somebody who has run in a won election could go home and face the voters again and say, "I'm not even willing to debate it on the floor."

Sen. John Barrasso on "Face the Nation," July 23, 2017. CBS News

JOHN DICKERSON: You mentioned that repeal and replace will be on, but there's been talk of having just a straight-up vote on repeal. In fact, Senator McConnell - McConnell said the 2015 bill, straight repeal, would be voted on. So there's - that vote will still happen, it'll just be as an amendment?

SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: Yeah, people can offer that as an amendment as to what's passed the House. I have a number of things that I think really improve on the House bill. President Trump has said it should be more generous. We have done that. The bill that I've been working on in the Senate actually lowers insurance premiums, makes insurance more affordable by 30%. It puts Medicaid on a much more sustainable path. And you know, Medicaid was designed initially for low income women and children and the disabled. But it's changed significantly under Obamacare.

JOHN DICKERSON: Senator Corker talked about the efforts this week to try to get everybody back on the - on the beam here. And he said, "I fear that it's beginning to lack coherency. It's beginning to feel like a bazaar. Much like how Obamacare was put together, where disparate things are added and put in." What's your response to that?

SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: I was in the Wyoming legislature for five years. That's what legislation is all about. You get a bill on the floor of the House or the Senate. We get a bill, and then you start adding amendments. You bring your best ideas forward. And then people vote up or down.

So as the amendments get added to the bill, in the end there's a final vote. Do you approve or not approve of the whole amended package? And that's what we're trying to do. And that's why I think people run for office, to take tough votes, to legislate, and to live with the consequences.

JOHN DICKERSON: There is, obviously, another structural way to do this, which is the bipartisan route. You heard Senator Collins make that claim. She said we should go back to a bipartisan approach. This one has not been. Senator Murkowski also suggested that. Senator Graham, Senator McCain. And polls show people desperate for a bipartisan approach. Why hasn't there been one on this one?

SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: Well, I agree. It should be bipartisan. Should have been bipartisan when Obamacare was passed. It should be now as well. For big things that affect the country, it should be done in a bipartisan way. But let's set the record straight. With this resistance movement to President Trump and the energy in the Democrat party, pulling Chuck Schumer as the leader far to the left, to the Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren approach, Senator Schumer's been pretty clear up from the beginning that he would- that we should expect no cooperation from him. We know where Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren want to take it, which is to a single payer Canadian, British-style government run program.

JOHN DICKERSON: But that, but has anybody reached out, really, in a serious way? Because we talked to Senator Manchin, number one on any list of reaching out to Democrats. He said he'd not heard from the Republicans or from the president. I mean, everybody in their opening gambit says, "No way, no how." Then you negotiate, and that's kind of what the Senate does, isn't it?

SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: Well, I visited on the floor of the Senate and off the floor with a number of Democrats. And they say, "Well, you know, we do want to work together, but there are a couple things. One is, don't touch the mandate." Well, the mandate, the individual mandate that says people have to buy a government program, that's the most hated part of Obamacare.

Oh, and they also say status quo is fine for Medicaid. But the status quo today is different than the original intent of Medicaid of protecting the most vulnerable in our society who are now getting crowded out of Medicaid because of the expansion. And they said, "Oh, and by the way, make sure you put more money in to stabilize insurance markets." Well, you know, President Trump just last week, once again, provided a transfusion to Obamacare which is in the intensive care unit.

JOHN DICKERSON: The American Medical- You're a doctor.


JOHN DICKERSON: And the A.M.A., the American Medical Association does not like this Senate bill. Why don't your colleagues like it? Are they wrong?

SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: Well it's an interesting- I'm still a member of the American Medical Association. They've done incredible things for patient safety and health care over the years. They were big supporters of the Obama health care law. They lost a lot of members as a result of that. I think that they're misguided on this, because the doctors I talk to at home, and the nurses, and the patients, I was in Wyoming yesterday, continue to say, "We need to get rid of this Obamacare. We need to replace it with something that actually lowers the cost. That makes healthcare more affordable." Health is very, very personal. And we need to make sure that we do it right.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right, Senator Barrasso, thank you so much for being with us--

SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO: Thanks for having me.

JOHN DICKERSON: And we'll be right back with our political panel.

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