Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner told a crowd of thousands at the Western Conservative Summit Friday night that Republicans in Congress, as early as next week, will address healthcare.

The Senate GOP’s effort to repeal and replace Obamacare collapsed last week. Gardner never said how we would have voted on that bill, even though he was in a group that helped draft it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pulled the legislation when  it became evident Republicans didn’t have the votes to pass it.

But Friday night Gardner never said exactly what Republicans will do next, beyond giving states more flexibility to design their own programs, “to get Washington out of the way.”

“Those are the kinds of things we can all work together to do,” Gardner said in his speech.

He left after the speech, before Colorado Politics could catch up to ask more questions. Stay tuned.

Gardner said the GOP must “rebuild a healthcare system in this country that increases the quality of care, decreases the cost of care and does it by giving consumers more options, more choice and more freedom.”

He told thousands at the opening night of the summit at the Colorado Convention Center that Obamacare represented a bloated broken promise and endangered the social safety net programs for the people Democrats are using as props to get in the way of reform.

During Gardner’s speech a small group of protesters, who paid at least $120 each for a day pass to get in,  tried to interrupt by chanting “Don’t cut  Medicaid,” before they were ushered out were shouted down  by chants of   “USA.” He briefly shuffled the papers of his speech while the protesters were led out.

Gardner was unfazed and even complimented the dissenting voices.

“That’s what makes a nation great … the strength of each other to listen to the disparate voices, to listen to the people who have differing opinions, because that is what makes our nation strong,” Gardner told the audience. “That is who we are and those are values the Western Conservative Summit celebrates.”

Gardner said Americans, such as those protesters, have serious concerns about healthcare, and it would be important “to make sure we focus our efforts on those who need it the most.”

“What’s happened the last several years is a government that’s tried to grow so much that it’s created instability in our most important safety net programs and what we have to do is make sure they’re sustainable to protect those who are truly in need,” he said.

The conservatives at the summit were down on Senate Republicans for washing out on their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

After a dance party to open the show, Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, which has put on the summit in Denver for eight years, made the failure part of his opening address.

“No more excuses, it’s time to repeal  Obamacare,” Hunt said. “Get it done. We sent you there for a reason.”


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