The Senate GOP is planning to vote on their health care bill by late next week, despite there being no drafted bill as of writing.
Republicans have been trying to iron out disagreements between conservative and moderate members. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that the text of the legislation should be released by Thursday. The Congressional Budget Office has not seen the bill in order to score it, however they should be getting a copy of it this week.
Democrats are crying foul. They plan on using a legislative tactic to force Republicans to require 60 votes for passage. Currently, there are only 52 Republican senators and since the healthcare bill is being passed under “reconciliation,” only 51 votes are needed to pass it.
CNN describes the rule objection Democrats are making.
Under reconciliation, the way Republicans can try to pass the bill with 51 votes, Republicans have to save $2 billion total. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said last month that Republicans did that in their House bill. But, there is more to the rules. The $2 billion can’t come from just anywhere. They have to save $1 billion in each of the relevant committees. That means Republicans have to save $1 billion from programs under the jurisdiction of the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee and another $1 billion from the Finance Committee.
Democrats charge Republicans haven’t hit the target the HELP committee and accuse them of using budgetary tricks. They want to force the health care bill back to HELP to find more in savings. That would mean a delay and ultimately a committee vote on the plan.
In their rush to try and craft and pass a bill behind closed doors, it would be ironic if Republicans were actually forced to take it to a Senate committee.
Democrats have been noting that Republicans are being hypocritical. In 2009 and 2010, Republicans complained that Democrats were trying to ram a health care bill through with little to no debate. Many of those GOP members who are now drafting the bill complained about the lack of transparency with Obamacare.
But Democrats actually held committee hearings on Obamacare. They also held a White House summit on the issue. Democrats were not afraid to defend the substance of the bill. Whereas Senate Republicans are avoiding the committee process and are keeping the text of the bill secret until a week before the final vote.
What are Republicans hiding? Why do they not want to face the American people?
In 2010, then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress “[has] to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it.” The Republicans are taking the same approach with their health care bill.
Why are Republicans so afraid to defend or debate the substance of their bill?