The second phase of Republican plans to repeal the healthcare law started Thursday at 9 a.m., amid continuing sharp criticism from House Democrats.
The House began debate on H.Res. 9, which assigns four House committees to draw up an alternative healthcare plan. The resolution will effectively allow the House to continue to pursue changes to current law, given that yesterday's healthcare repeal bill in the House is expected to go nowhere in the Senate.
Nonetheless, Democrats continued their attacks on the Republican effort. Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), speaking for Rules Committee Democrats, said H.Res. 9 "isn't a serious effort" because it only asks committees to develop healthcare alternatives over time, and makes no promise that any of these possible proposals would be passed into law.
"It's a series of talking points," McGovern said. "It's a press release. Instead of repeal and replace, it's repeal and relax."
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) pointed out this morning that H.Res. 9 does not assign any deadlines for coming up with health alternatives, pointing out the Democrats' suspicion that Republicans may never develop their own healthcare plan. Weiner argued that Republicans do not seem to have any plan at all to improve healthcare at this point, and exclaimed, "I will eat this rostrum" if they follow through.
Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), the Rules Committee chairman, rejected these sentiments in his opening remarks, and implied that developing workable healthcare alternatives should take some time. "The four committees of jurisdiction have a great deal of work ahead of them," he said. "This is a process to which we all must contribute."
The four committees that will be charged with coming up with new healthcare proposals are the Committees on Education and the Workforce, Energy and Commerce, Judiciary, and Ways and Means. Passage of the resolution is expected by noon today.
—Updated at 9:53 a.m.