House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday suggested opponents of the Republican healthcare proposals are going too far in their criticism.
“The rhetoric is just over the top,” Ryan told local Wisconsin radio station WISN. “I have seen a lot in my day and this rhetoric, it’s hysterical, it’s hyperbolic. It’s really something.”
Ryan also said much of the complaints from Democrats seems to stem from their losses in special elections for House seats in Montana, Georgia, South Carolina, and Kansas.
“I think they’re really upset because they lost all these special elections we’ve been having and resist is not inspiring,” Ryan said, according to a transcript from the Associated Press’ Erica Werner.
Democrats’ criticism has centered on the Congressional Budget Office projections that the Republican healthcare bills in the House and Senate would leave over 20 million more Americans respectively without healthcare coverage in 2026 than under the current system.
Ryan also took issue with rhetoric suggesting people could die if Republican bills are passed into law, claims that have been advanced by the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Ryan said the claims were inappropriate, especially so soon after the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
“We almost lost Steve that day and it was really really close for 48 hours there and he’s a really close friend of mine,” Ryan said. “Let’s all fight with civility and respect for the beliefs and causes we believe in but let’s be civil with one another. … And accusing people who are trying to solve a healthcare problem of trying to kill people is not having a civil debate.”
The healthcare push is currently stalled in the Senate, as moderate and conservative members have not been able to come to an agreement on key provisions of a bill to advance it for a floor vote this week.