Lacking the votes to stop it, Democrats are criticizing the still-evolving bill
In this April 6, 2017 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, walks from his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. photo: AP/Cliff Owen, File, photo: AP/Cliff Owen, File
20 of June 2017 12:34:31
WASHINGTON – Republicans are getting ready for Senate votes on legislation scuttling former President Barack Obama's health care law, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday among growing indications that the climactic vote could occur next week."The Senate will soon have a chance to turn the page on this failed law," said the Kentucky Republican. He said GOP senators have had "many productive discussions" on the measure and added, "We have to act, and we are."On MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Sen. Bob Corker, Republican from Tennessee, said GOP senators will be briefed on the emerging bill Wednesday and he expects to see the legislation the next day, about a week before a vote occurs.
Even so, lobbyists and lawmakers said final decisions had yet to be made on some issues, including how to make sure that health care tax subsidies Republicans would provide cannot used to buy insurance that covers abortion. That's a crucial problem for the GOP because many Republican senators are demanding such restrictions.There were also rumblings of discontent by some conservatives. Sen. Ted Cruz, Republican from Texas, said the Republican plan does "not yet" do enough to reduce premiums, a key GOP goal. And Sen. Rand Paul, Republican from Kentucky, said it would be "a non-starter" if the developing bill's subsidies are as large as Obama's.Lacking the votes to stop it, Democrats are criticizing the still-evolving bill as a stealthy measure that GOP leaders want to rush through the chamber before anyone knows what's really in it. In protest, they began objecting to usually routine requests for committee hearings to run more than two hours after the full Senate convenes.Democrats concede that Obama's prized statute needs changes to shore up some regional markets where insurers are losing money. But they praise its impact on providing coverage to around 20 million additional people and forcing insurers to provide more generous benefits.They held the Senate floor for several hours late Monday and forced McConnell to turn aside requests to require Senate committees to debate and vote on the measure, a step in the legislative process that GOP leaders have foregone."The combination of secrecy and speed are a toxic recipe," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from Connecticut.
Retweet if you:Have a right to know what’s in Congressional Republicans' health care plan.(This is everyone.)— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) June 19, 2017
Democrats' largely symbolic effort was likely to have little or no impact on how McConnell handles the measure, which he'd like the Senate to approve by the end of next week. But they were hoping it would have at least two effects — scare off Republicans wavering over whether to back the measure, and show liberal activists that Democrats are aggressively trying to thwart the legislation, even though they lack the votes to derail it.McConnell is using closed-door meetings among Republicans to write the bill. In these sessions lawmakers are trying to resolve internal disputes over how to reduce the insurance coverage standards that Obama's law requires, cut the Medicaid health care program for the poor and eliminate taxes Obama levied on higher earners and the medical industry.
If the GOP continues to insist on ramming thru a secret health care bill without any public input, they shouldn’t expect business as usual.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 20, 2017