As Senate Democrats took to the floor Monday evening to talk about how Republicans are attempting to jam through massive legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act and “replacing” it with a bill that would take health insurance away from millions and destroying Medicaid, the Wall Street Journal reported that Mitch McConnell is planning a vote next week. There have been no hearings. Republican staff won’t even meet with health care provider or patient advocacy groups. Most of the Senate—including Republicans—haven’t seen any legislative language.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) is intent on keeping pressure on Senate Republicans to move quickly on the bill rolling back and replacing much of the 2010 health law, lawmakers and GOP aides said. The push for a quick vote could backfire, however, as some conservative and centrist Republicans have expressed concern about the emerging shape of the bill.
. McConnell could pull back if he calculates that a little extra time could get him the votes needed to cross the finish line. He can lose no more than two GOP votes for a bill to pass. All Democratic senators are expected to oppose it.
Still, Mr. McConnell has reasons to try to vote quickly on the health-care bill: the pressure could force lawmakers to reach a consensus on sticking points that have divided them for weeks. And GOP leaders in both chambers want to move on to other items on their legislative agenda, including a sweeping overhaul of the tax code.
McConnell has an aggressive timeline, intending to have the text of the bill this week to send to the Congressional Budget Office for a score by early next week—Monday or Tuesday—and a vote on Thursday. On the floor Monday, Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer asked McConnell for a commitment to allow the Senate to have 10 hours to review the bill before a vote. McConnell refused. Schumer asked for a committee hearing on the bill before the vote. McConnell objected. Schumer renewed an invitation for all 100 senators to meet in private session to discuss the legislation. McConnell refused.
McConnell objected to a request from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) that the bill go through committee before coming to the floor. He objected to a motion from Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to not allow a vote unless the CBO finds that no veterans will lose their health care. That’s right, he objected to making sure veterans continue to have health care. Democrat after Democrat came to the floor to ask for hearings. McConnell objected to them all.
McConnell is going to have his vote, but Democrats are promising to make it as difficult as they can with the procedural tools they’ve got at hand. The longer they can drag this out, the longer Republicans have to argue and fight over, and the better chance three Republicans peel away to defeat it.