- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 7, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday his chamber will be “going on offense on ideas” in 2016, offering voters a clear idea of what a Republican Congress could do with an ally in the White House.

That effort began this week with passage of the first Obamacare repeal bill to reach President Obama’s desk, he said.

Looking ahead, Mr. Ryan said GOP leaders are exploring a new authorization to use military force against the Islamic State, and they’re already making a bipartisan push to strengthen sanctions against North Korea for its reported nuclear test, although the speaker offered no details.

On health care, Mr. Ryan said he doesn’t expect the president to sign a bill that scrap his namesake law, although the effort outlines a “clear choice” for voters who want to see changes in 2017.

“This will require a new president,” he said at his weekly press conference. “We’re going to have to offer a real agenda to the country.”

The House passed a bill, 240-181, on Wednesday that guts the Affordable Care Act and defunds Planned Parenthood for one year as punishment for its abortion practice and handling of harvested fetal tissue.

Republicans used a budget process known as “reconciliation” to pass a revenue-related bill that can pass on a majority vote in the Senate, avoiding the type of Democratic opposition that doomed every prior effort at repeal.

“Getting past the Senate Democrats has always been the issue, and finally we cracked the code,” he said.

The administration is already brushing aside the effort, touting “unprecedented demand” for Obamacare’s benefits on Web-based exchanges. It also launched a “Latino Week of Action” that targets the demographic for health care enrollment.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi insisted Thursday that Democrats are focused on American priorities and will be able to vanquish whoever Republicans choose as their nominee for president this year.

“Whoever they choose, we will be ready to make the contrast. Because it’s not just about personalities, although that counts in a presidential,” the California Democrat said at her weekly press conference. “It’s about policy. And it’s about how the American people identify with someone who identifies with their aspirations, who understand them, who knows them.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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