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Dems hit secrecy of GOP health care bill, threaten delays

20 June, 2017, 13:42 | Author: Mae Harvey
  • Democrats say they'll begin using procedural moves to slow the Senate's work to protest how Republicans are drafting their health care overhaul behind closed doors

Democrats held the Senate floor for several hours late Monday and promised to use procedural tactics to slow the Senate's work, to focus attention on the Republican effort. A small group of Republican senators has been working in private for weeks, shielding from public view the bill and the negotiations surrounding it.

"If Republicans are not going to allow debate on their bill on the floor or in committee, Democrats will make opportunities to debate", said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, speaking Monday on the Senate floor. "We think it's critical that Americans across the country understand what's at stake for them and their families if the U.S. Senate passes this bill". They forced the chamber's top Republican to swat aside reasonable sounding requests, like holding committee hearings.

But Rubio said he believes the process could take longer and urged the Senate to slow down. I've spoken to a number of people who know McConnell well who speculate that he'll force a vote regardless of whether he knows he has 50 votes.

Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada are considered the most vulnerable Republicans in the 2018 cycle and faced a twin assault from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which launched full-screen web ads aimed at mobile viewers and "cord-cutters" who don't watch regular cable TV, and a seven-figure radio and television buy from the left-leaning Community Catalyst Action Fund.

While GOP senators aren't objecting to the process as vehemently as Democrats, a number of Republicans, including Sen.

McConnell said last week that "nobody is hiding the ball here" and that people are "free to ask anybody anything".

One aide stressed that, at this point, no final decisions had been made, but the option was on the table and would be discussed this week as members attempt to coalesce around a final proposal. "We understand the issue very well and we are now coming up with a solution". But when you encounter problems, he said, "sometimes you need to go behind closed doors to work it out".

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said that the closed-door Republican meetings on healthcare amounted to "the most glaring departure from normal legislative procedure that I have ever seen".

The GOP-run House narrowly approved its version of the legislation last month. The resulting legislation would likely throw millions out of health insurance, he said, while granting "a big fat tax break for the wealthiest among us".

"At the end of the process, Congress will have a chance to turn the page on this failed law", he said Monday. The bill is shaping up to have a similar structure as the House's bill, while more reflecting the principles of centrist Republicans in both chambers.

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