Dems threaten to gum up Senate over ‘secret’ ObamaCare bill

Keren Carrion

Senate Democrats are threatening to grind the Senate to a halt in protest of Republicans crafting their bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare behind closed doors.  

“If Republicans won’t relent and debate their healthcare bill in the open for the American people to see, then they shouldn’t expect business as usual in the Senate,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). 
Schumer said Republicans are “drafting this bill in secret because they’re ashamed of it, plain and simple.” 
A senior Senate Democratic aide said that starting on Monday evening, Democrats will object to “all unanimous consent requests in the Senate,” though there could be a narrow exception for honorary resolutions.” 
If Democrats stick to the tactics, they will be able to block any committees from meeting after the Senate has been in session for more than two hours.  
{mosads}Democrats are also holding a late-night talkathon from the Senate floor on Monday night, with senators scheduled to give speeches against the GOP effort until at least midnight. 
Democrats are expected to make a series of unanimous consent requests on Monday evening on the House-passed ObamaCare repeal and replacement bill, including trying to send it to a Senate committee and “forcing Republicans to publicly defend their ‘no hearings strategy,’ ” according to the senior Senate Democratic aide. 
They have hounded Republicans over their legislation, which is still being hashed out in a series of closed-door meetings. 
“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 less healthcare coverage,” Schumer said.
In addition to giving floor speeches, Democrats will also “make a series of parliamentary inquiries” to try to show the difference between the months of public negotiating that took place over the Affordable Care Act and the GOP’s process for its own healthcare bill.

The announcement comes at a time when Democrats are under growing pressure from outside liberal groups to shut down the Senate floor, including blocking normal requests for committees to meet, to slow down ObamaCare repeal.  

Indivisible, a progressive advocacy group, is urging its members to ask Democratic senators to “resist through procedure” by blocking routine committee hearings or filibustering on the Senate floor.” 
“Your Senator can slow the Senate down to a crawl and focus attention to TrumpCare by withholding his or her consent on legislative business,” according to the group’s June action plan for stopping the GOP healthcare bill. 
Center for American Progress’s Topher Spiro made a similar suggestion earlier this month, saying blue-state constituents could “ask Dem Senators to boycott all non-essential (non-Russia) hearings until there’s a public hearing on Trumpcare.”
Democrats have previously used all-night floor speeches paired with social media to try to build public support for their opposition to a policy or President Trump nominee.
Republicans have a narrow path to passing repeal-and-replace legislation through the Senate. They have 52 seats, meaning they can only afford to lose two GOP senators and let Vice President Mike Pence break a tie. 
Tags Chuck Schumer Mike Pence

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