Obamacare will likely go through a phased repeal-and-replace procedure rather than immediate repeal, as there is not a large enough majority in the Senate, Sen. Tom Cole said Tuesday.
"We can't repeal everything because we don't have 60 in the Senate," the Oklahoma Republican and Deputy Majority Whip told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "We'll move to reconciliation. We're doing that now."
There will be several pieces of legislation involved, Cole continued, rather than "one monstrous bill," and he noted insurance companies are already writing next year's policies.
"Nobody this year is going to be losing insurance," Cole said. "Probably next year, just given the way the system works. It took President [Barack] Obama 14 months to write Obamacare and years to phase it in. It's not all phased in to this day."
He does think lawmakers can change the impact of Obamacare fairly quickly, however.
"In my home state, we're down now to one single provider for an entire state if you're on the Obamacare exchange," Cole said. "Our rates are going up 69 percent, so standing around doing nothing is not an option for anybody that represents Oklahoma and a lot of other states."
Cole also spoke out about President Donald Trump's comments comparing the United States to Russia during a pre-game interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly before Sunday's Super Bowl.
"I don't think that's an accurate characterization of who we are as a country or what our record is really over the course of 200 plus years of American history," Cole said. "On the other hand, I'm pretty heartened when I hear Ambassador [Nikki] Haley's remarks at the United Nations."
Cole said he also has no doubts where Defense Secretary James Mattis stands on the matter, and he believes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, even though he has been questioned about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, "is actually a very pragmatic, tough-minded guy."
Trump will get good advice on Russia, Cole said, and he believes in the end he'll do the right thing. But at the same time, his rhetoric wasn't "appropriate."
"Really, it hurt the president and frankly it's something that's just not good when a president mischaracterizes who we are as a people," Cole said.
He said he also would not have used the phrase "so-called judge" that Trump used in reference to Federal Judge James Robart in Seattle following his ruling on his executive order on travel from the Middle East.
"But I also watched President Obama dress down the Supreme Court in the the union over Citizens United case," Cole said. "I think presidents are well-advised not to yell at the refs. Learn something from really good coaches, which is you might try and play it to them a little bit but don't do it to their face and don't be disrespectful."
Cole, though, said he does not think Trump acts the same in private, but "on social media, you have a tendency to go over the top. I think that can be dangerous."
Trump, though, is a "disruptive force and needs to be," Cole said, and that's what Americans wanted, and he thinks his presidency will get better with time.
"I've never seen anybody walk into the Oval Office seamlessly," Cole said. "It's a bigger stage with more observation. There's just no adequate preparation. Again, I'm very heartened by the team he selected around him. I think they are going to get the job done for the country."
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