Democratic Slumber Party Part VI: Seizing The Senate Floor Over Obamacare Repeal

Delia Watkins
June 20, 2017

According to a senior Senate Democratic aide, there might be some exceptions for honorary resolutions, but the Democrats seem intent on slowing down the bulk of business.

Amidst mounting frustration about Republicans' secretive deliberations to repeal Obamacare, Democrats plan to throw sand in the gears of the Senate to try to force a more public debate.

The Democratic base has been pushing senators to take a tougher approach on health care, but doing so could eviscerate the bipartisan atmosphere that existed after last week's violent attacks against lawmakers at a Congressional Baseball Game practice. Some suspect the talk of canceled recesses and a legislative logjam actually disguise a McConnell plan to spring a fully formed health-care bill on a stunned Senate very soon. Voters are increasingly less likely to trust Republicans on health care, and independent voters have been embracing Obamacare.

Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to Republican committee chairs with jurisdiction over Trumpcare requesting that they "schedule hearings to discuss, debate and hear testimony about the health care bill you are now drafting in secret".

President Donald Trump has been eager for quick action, although in a closed-door luncheon with 15 GOP senators last week, he described a House-passed bill as "mean".

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Democrats are weighing a strategy to get more public attention on the debate in the next two weeks, said Matt House, spokesman for Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY, but he declined to discuss details.

Democrats also intend to hold control of the Senate floor until late in the evening, delivering a series of speeches urging Republicans to make the health bill public. A CBO analysis of the House healthcare bill estimated that it would cause 23m Americans to lose health insurance over the next decade and said some of the country's sickest people could face significantly higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs. These include disagreements over phasing out the Medicaid expansion, easing some of the law's coverage requirements and reshaping subsidies the statute provides to millions of individuals buying policies. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., told reporters this week. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, Patty Murray, D-Washington and Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, sent a letter to top Republicans asking that they schedule hearing to discuss, debate and hear testimony about "the health care bill that you are now drafting in secret".

The Democrat says he wants to hear from the public before the U.S. Senate takes up legislation that Republican leaders have been crafting.

"Our health-care system affects every single American and one-sixth of our economy", Schumer wrote. These are striking comments from a Republican senator whose party is seeking to push through legislation without the help of Democrats. Those conversations between senators and the CBO - common for lawmakers working on major, complex pieces of legislation - sometimes prompt members to press through and other times to change course.

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