Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill

Former Sen. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissRepublicans say Democrats holding up disaster relief as 'Sandy payback' Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances The Hill's Morning Report - Trump budget reignites border security fight MORE (R-Ga.) urged Senate Republican leaders on Tuesday to open up debate on their healthcare overhaul bill, saying they need to "let the Democrats engage" before trying to pass it.

"Let's put the bill on the floor, let's thoroughly debate it in the open before the American people, let's let them know what each side is talking about," Chambliss said on CNN's "New Day." "Let the Democrats engage. They've got some good ideas too, I'm sure. So let everybody engage in the process on the floor of the Senate."

Chambliss cast efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as necessary and said that doing otherwise would be doing the country a disservice. But he also acknowledged the hurdles that come along with healthcare reform.

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"Healthcare reform in its current state is one of the most difficult issues we've ever addressed from a policymaker standpoint," he said. "It was tough back in 2009, as you alluded to; it took almost a year to get it done. Remember, Democrats couldn't agree."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Senators reach .5B deal on Trump's emergency border request Senators reach .5B deal on Trump's emergency border request MORE (R-Ky.) is reportedly aiming to hold a final vote on his Better Care Reconciliation Act this week.

But the measure has already raised concerns among some Republicans, five of whom have said they cannot vote for the bill in its current form.

Democrats have assailed McConnell for crafting the bill largely behind closed doors and have unanimously vowed to oppose the legislation.