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The Repeal Resolution we have been debating in the Senate this week will complete the first step towards reducing the federal government’s role that has prevented Americans from pursuing affordable and accessible healthcare that meets their needs without emptying their wallets.  After we complete our repeal work, the Senate can then vigorously pursue putting the nation on a more responsible and sustainable fiscal path and address government’s out of control spending and mammoth national debt when we begin our work on the FY 2018 budget.

I wish to thank my colleagues for their consideration and cooperation to bring us to this point, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his leadership in pushing the Senate to take the first steps to repair the nation’s broken health care system, and remove Washington from the equation in order to put control of health care back where it belongs: with patients, their families, and their doctors.

This commitment to an open, honest and transparent legislative process is crucial to helping Congress restore the trust of the American people. 

Thanks as well are due to the many members on this side who came and spoke on the resolution’s behalf worked with us and each other to move through the resolution’s debate and vote process.

I’ve enjoyed my partnership with Senator Sanders since we both took on our new roles as the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee last Congress.   We’ve known each other a long time, have served on some of the same Senate committees and I believe he and my colleagues across the aisle share the same goal of establishing a robust and affordable health care system for hardworking families. I truly hope that they will work with us to find common ground that delivers more choices and lower costs in the weeks and months ahead.

Also, I’d like to focus for a moment on some of the staff who helped lead us here.   

I thank the Republican staff of the Senate Budget Committee, including my acting staff director Dan Kowalski; director of budget review and acting deputy staff director Matt Giroux; Chief counsel George Everly, Senior Budget Analysts Peter Warren and Steve Robinson; Budget Analysts Greg D’Angelo, Tom Bork, Becky Cole, David Ditch and Susan Eckerly; and Assistant Counsels Clint Brown and Thomas Fuller; Outreach Director Jim Neill, Editor Elizabeth Keys; Policy Assistant Kelsie Wendelberger, and Communications Director Joe Brenckle.

As well, thanks are due to my personal office staff, including my Chief of Staff, Tara Shaw, my Legislative Director Landon Stropko, my Health Care Policy staff Elizabeth Schwartz, Alec Hinjosa and Chris Lydon as well as the entire Wyoming team.

We’ve also been supported by the great work of our Leadership floor and cloakroom staff and I thank them for their continued good work and dedication to this institution and the country as a whole.  In particular, I want to thank Sharon Soderstrom, Hazen Marshall, Jane Lee and Scott Raab in the Leader’s office; Monica Popp, John Caphuis [pronounced Chap-eee] and Emily Kirlin in the Whip’s office; and Laura Dove and Robert Duncan in the cloakroom.  These folks, as well as my Budget team, worked hours over the holiday break to ensure our success.

Without all their work, we would not be here this evening, standing on the verge of passing the Senate’s repeal resolution that will set the stage for true legislative relief from Obamacare that Americans have long demanded, while ensuring a stable transition in which those with insurance will not lose access to health care coverage. This will allow us to move step-by-step on a new set of reforms, listening carefully to the advice of the millions of Americans affected.  Or as Senator Alexander of Tennessee, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee put it – the Obamacare bridge is collapsing and we are sending in a rescue team.  Then we will build new bridges to better health care and finally, when these new bridges are finished we’ll close the old bridge.

Mr. President, after five days of consideration, many hours of debate, and numerous amendments reviewed and voted upon, this process can now be concluded.