Dems push to require Senate hearing for ObamaCare repeal vote

Keren Carrion

Senate Democrats are introducing legislation that would ban Republicans from bringing up their ObamaCare repeal and replace bill without holding a hearing on the bill.

The legislation, known as the “No Hearing, No Vote Act,” would require a bill being passed under reconciliation — the fast-track process being used to repeal and replace ObamaCare — to be voted on by at least one committee and have had at least one hearing.

“Senate Republicans’ attempts to pass Trumpcare in the dark of night, without any transparency is one of the most egregious examples of legislative malpractice in decades. Republicans have held zero committee hearings, solicited zero bipartisan support, and plan to allow zero public debate,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

The legislation is unlikely to be passed in the Senate, where Republicans are expected to clear their ObamaCare repeal and replace legislation without holding a public hearing.

The proposal, which is backed by Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), comes as Democrats are stepping up their attacks on Republicans’ efforts to roll back the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Democrats circulated a video of a Finance Committee meeting last week when Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) questioned if there “will there be a hearing on the healthcare proposal?”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the chairman of the committee, replied, “I don’t know that there’s going to be another hearing, but we’ve invited you to participate.”

Senate Republicans are holding several closed-door meetings per week to debate their proposal.

Republicans have a narrow path to getting legislation passed – they hold 52 seats, meaning they can only afford two defections and still have Vice President Pence cast a tie-breaking vote.

No Democrats are expected to support the effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Senate Republicans want to pass their bill this summer, as soon as the end of this month but before the end of July when they leave for the August recess.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to commit on Tuesday that they would pass the bill before July 4 recess, but said “something has to be done soon.”

“Everybody’s participating who wants to, and the idea is to get enough votes to pass it. Unfortunately, it will have to be a Republicans-only exercise. But we’re working hard to get there,” he told reporters.

McConnell fast-tracked the House bill earlier this month, placing it on the Senate calendar and allowing it — as had been expected — to skip over the committee process. 
Senate Republicans are writing their own proposal, but will use the House bill as a shell to get their bill through the upper chamber. McConnell’s move will allow him to bring up the legislation quickly once Republicans are ready to vote. 
Tags Bernie Sanders Charles Schumer Claire McCaskill Jeff Merkley Mitch McConnell Orrin Hatch Patty Murray Ron Wyden
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