Senate Democrats pressure GOP to hold healthcare hearings

Senate Democrats pressure GOP to hold healthcare hearings
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Senate Democrats have a message for their Republican colleagues: The chamber has plenty of hearing rooms, and the GOP should use them to hold hearings on its healthcare bill, which they say has been drafted in secret.

In a letter sent Monday to the relevant panel chairmen, key Senate Democrats listed off 31 rooms where a hearing can be held, writing that “if you schedule a hearing, we guarantee all Democratic members of the Senate HELP, Finance or Budget Committee will be in attendance at any time or place that you choose.”

The letter was signed by Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ranking member Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayCDC director to miss fourth hearing because of potential ethics issues Week ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding Ryan suggests room for bipartisanship on ObamaCare MORE (D-Wash.), Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWeek ahead: Senate takes up surveillance bill This week: Time running out for Congress to avoid shutdown Senate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump MORE (D-Ore.), Budget Committee ranking member Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersMellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) Former Sanders campaign manager: Don't expect email list to be shared with DNC Adult film star: Trump and Stormy Daniels invited me to 'hang out' MORE (I-Vt.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration White House: Trump remarks didn't derail shutdown talks Schumer defends Durbin after GOP senator questions account of Trump meeting MORE (D-N.Y.).

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They contrasted the Senate Republicans closed-door process with what they see as a much more transparent one during the debate over the Affordable Care Act.

At the time, the Finance Committee held more than 50 hearings, meetings and roundtables on health reform. The Health, Education, Pensions and Labor Committee had over 47. When the bill was on the Senate floor, the chamber spent 25 straight days in session on health reform, the four Democratic senators wrote. 

The letter comes during what is sure to be a tense week for the Senate GOP’s efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Leadership is still aiming to hold a vote by the July 4th recess, but members are yet to see a final product of the bill. And key questions — and divisions — still exist, such as over the length of a Medicaid phase-out and how many ObamaCare insurance regulations to waive.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are ratcheting up the pressure. They’re planning to hold a late-night talkathon Monday, where they’ll protest the GOP’s efforts to gut President Obama’s signature health law with plans to speak until at least midnight.