Reid pledges transparency on health bill; blasts lack of Republican alternative

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledged an open debate on the healthcare reform bill and blasted Republicans for not presenting an alternative plan.

In a letter to all 40 Senate Republicans, Reid noted that the two Democratic-written healthcare bills so far passed by Senate committees have been available online for weeks, and that “the Republican leadership’s health care plan remains a secret, unless perhaps it does not exist.”

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“I fully understand if your plan is still under development, and would not presume to suggest that you publicly share draft legislative text for even an individual element of your plan, let alone an entire bill, before it is finalized,” Reid wrote.

“However, as soon as a comprehensive Republican alternative is complete, I hope you will be willing to immediately make it public. I am sure you agree that the American people deserve the opportunity to fully review both parties’ health reform plans before we begin this important debate.”

Republicans worked last week to draw a contrast between earlier, public promises by Democrats that the healthcare reform process would be as open as possible — the GOP even played campaign footage of President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTop nuclear policy appointee removed from Pentagon post: report Prosecutors face legal challenges over obstruction charge in Capitol riot cases Biden makes early gains eroding Trump's environmental legacy MORE pledging to televise negotiations on C-SPAN. Democratic leaders left little doubt Monday they will try to turn the tables this week by claiming Republicans have overwhelmingly dropped out of the process.

Reid’s floor remarks Monday were followed by Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse passes standalone bill to provide B for Israel's Iron Dome Pelosi vows to avert government shutdown McConnell calls Trump a 'fading brand' in Woodward-Costa book MORE (Ky.), who did not respond to Reid’s central criticism but focused instead on the GOP’s key opposition points to the Democratic effort.

“Americans want real reforms that will lower costs and increase access — reforms like getting rid of junk lawsuits, leveling the playing field on healthcare taxes, and incentivizing healthy choices,” he said.

“Yet instead of adopting these commonsense ideas, the authors of this bill seem intent on forcing the American people to accept more spending, more debt, more taxes, and more government in their daily lives. You can call that a lot of things. But you can’t call it reform.”

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In both his letter and his floor speech, Reid promised he would make the Democratic bill public once it is analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office and finalized by Democratic leaders.

“Those who demand to see the bill right this minute forget that the final doesn’t yet exist,” Reid said. “If it did, we’d bring it to the floor… We pledge to make the final bill available to the whole Senate and to the American people.”

Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinSchumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Democrats surprised, caught off guard by 'framework' deal Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook MORE (D-Ill.) seized on McConnell’s remarks Monday to repeat Reid’s point that Republicans have offered no alternatives on healthcare reform.

“We have heard the Republican leader speak as he has every day against health reform. He has opposed it from the start,” Durbin said of McConnell. “He is consistent. He also doesn’t propose any alternative — consistent … There is no Republican healthcare bill that anyone has seen or heard of.”