As Senate Republicans write an Obamacare repeal behind closed doors, their Democratic colleagues plan to protest the GOP’s moves in public.
Politico reported that starting Monday night, Democrats will halt Senate business by turning down ordinary requests, like scheduling votes or lengthening committee meetings, in order to disrupt business and highlight what the Republicans are up to.
This comes at the same time some Senate Republicans are urging their peers to cancel August recess, in order to finish the health care repeal and move on.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. (right) is ready to have his fellow Dems disrupt Senate business to shed light on the Republicans crafting their Obamacare repeal bill behind closed doors
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. (center), wants Republicans to vote on health care before July 4, but it’s looking unlikely that date will stick
Republican Sens. David Perdue, R-Ga. (left) and Daniel Sullivan, R-Alaska (right), are both supportive of canceling August recess to get more work done on the health care bill, the budget and tax reform
With Democrats in the minority, the only thing the party can do is put up procedural hurdles.
‘Republicans are drafting this bill in secret because they’re ashamed of it, plain and simple,’ Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. told Politico.
‘These are merely the first steps we’re prepared to take in order to shine a light on this shameful Trumpcare bill and reveal to the public the GOP’s true intentions: to give the uber-wealthy a tax break while making middle class Americans pay more for their health care coverage,’ Schumer added.
Republicans want to bring the health care bill directly to the floor for a vote, instead of making it go through committee.
Democrats are trying to get the House version of the bill into a committee, to stall the GOP’s efforts.
As for the status of Senate Republicans, they’re not close to a deal on health care and most likely won’t be able to schedule a pre-July 4 vote, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would have liked, according to the Hill.
Without passing health care, Republicans can’t tackle budget appropriations, which means tax reform and other appropriations bills can’t move forward.
And without the passage of an Obamacare replacement, Republicans won’t have scored any major legislative victories this calendar year, despite having control of the White House and both houses.
The biggest win was confirming new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
All of these factors point to extending work into August, which is typically a month-long summer recess for lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
‘I think there’s a majority that probably supports being here,’ Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., told the Hill about staying in D.C. through part of August.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, told the newspaper he agreed.
‘I think absolutely we should truncate or cancel recess,’ Sullivan said. ‘We have a huge agenda. I think we can get a lot of it done, but what we don’t have is time.’
‘We can make more time,’ the Alaska Republican added.
An unnamed Senate GOP aide, however, doubted that Majority Leader McConnell would approve the move.
‘Are they going to get all 52 Senate Republicans to do this?’ the aide mused to the Hill. ‘Perdue and Sullivan talking is fine, but every time members say they need to stay and work over a recess there’s usually a [congressional delegation] trip somewhere.’
Over at the White House, Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked questions about the health care bill during Monday’s off-camera briefing.
It was reporters’ first opportunity to ask the Trump spokesman if reports were true that said the president had called the House health care repeal bill ‘mean.’
‘I’m not going to comment on rumors that came out of a private meeting,’ Spicer said, refusing to confirm or deny that was the adjective used.
More broadly, a reporter asked Spicer if he president had any complaints about Senate Republicans writing their bill behind closed doors, something that Republicans had grumbled about as Obamacare was being authored.
‘I can’t say I’ve actually asked him,’ Spicer said. ‘I mean, this is more of a Senate process question.’
Spicer pointed out that Schumer said he wouldn’t aid any effort in repealing Obamacare.
‘So it’s not that they were shocked that after he let it be known that they didn’t want to work with people, it’s a little odd that now they’re saying, “you’re not working with us,”‘ Spicer said.
Spicer said that the White House feels ‘very good about the process that’s happening.’
Though, again, didn’t mind the secrecy the Republicans were employing.
‘I don’t think the president gets involved in deciding how the Senate does its business,’ Spicer answered.