WEST ALLIS -- U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says Republicans should put efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act on the back burner as they tackle other issues.
Johnson's comments come as the GOP base grows restless after the U.S. Senate failed to pass a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. The Wisconsin senator's position puts him at odds with President Donald Trump, who has said Republican senators would be "quitters" if they took up other matters before re-voting on health care legislation.
Johnson said the GOP should immediately move to efforts to change the U.S. tax system, which supporters have said would include simplifying individual income taxes and cutting corporate tax rates, while continuing to craft new health care legislation.
"We need to turn our attention to (taxes). We do need to fund the government. We need to worry about the debt ceiling," Johnson said. "These are things we have to do, while we're working on what is the consensus opinion on health care."
In tweets after the GOP health bill collapsed in the Senate, President Trump argued for the opposite approach.
"Unless the Republican senators are total quitters, repeal and replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!" the president tweeted July 29th.
Johnson said the Senate's failure to pass a so-called "skinny repeal" of the Affordable Care Act would allow for more robust input on what to do next. He called the repeal bill that failed "pretty inadequate."
The Republican base wants to see campaign promises fulfilled after the GOP won control of Congress and the White House last November. Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan got an earful from Republican voters during business tours in his southern Wisconsin district.
"I tell you what. You're in there now, and all I see is infighting. It's very dysfunctional," Keith Ketzler, an employee at Banker Wire in Mukwonago, told Ryan during a question-and-answer session.
Johnson also distanced himself slightly from President Trump's proposal to cut the number of legal immigrants entering the U.S.
The president's plan would cut the number of admitted immigrants in half, from the current level of 1.1 million admissions annually. Applicants would be graded based on their skills and employability, though spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens would still be considered.
"I'm not going to agree with any proposal 100 percent, and I am concerned about reducing the numbers," Johnson said. 'But from my standpoint, I'd want more of those 1 million people who are granted legal permanent residency, I'd want those targeted toward occupational skills because we do not have enough workers in all areas of our economy today."
Congress is currently on its August recess.