Democrats protest Senate Republican
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[June 20, 2017]
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Democrats took to the Senate floor on Monday
to throw a spotlight on behind-the-scenes efforts by the Republican
majority to repeal former President Barack Obama's healthcare law, known
In a series of floor motions, inquiries and lengthy speeches, Democrats
criticized the closed-door meetings that Republicans have been holding
to craft a replacement for Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable
Care Act. They called for open committee hearings and more time to
consider the bill before a Senate vote, which Republicans say could come
in the next two weeks, although a draft bill has yet to emerge publicly.
Lacking the votes to derail or change the Republican process, the
maneuvers by the Democratic minority seemed more aimed at highlighting
Republican efforts on a controversial issue. Polls have said that a
majority of Americans disapprove of the Obamacare replacement that has
passed the House of Representatives and that Senate Republicans are now
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said that the closed-door
Republican meetings on healthcare amounted to "the most glaring
departure from normal legislative procedure that I have ever seen."
"Republicans are writing their healthcare bill under the cover of
darkness because they are ashamed of it," Schumer charged. The resulting
legislation would likely throw millions out of health insurance, he
said, while granting "a big fat tax break for the wealthiest among us."
Senators are not obligated to hold meetings in the open, but Democrats
pointed out that there were lengthy committee meetings and many days of
floor debate on Obamacare before it passed in 2010.
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Several Democrats moved for the healthcare legislation to be
referred to Senate committees for hearings, but Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell refused.
McConnell said all Republican senators have been involved to some
degree in healthcare meetings and that Democrats would have a chance
to amend the legislation they produce, once it is brought to the
"We're going to have a meeting on the Senate floor, all hundred of
us, with an unlimited amendment process," McConnell said. "So there
will be no failure of opportunity."
Senate Republican leaders would like a vote on healthcare
legislation in July, before the July 4 recess if possible. But
Republicans have struggled to coalesce around a bill, with moderates
and conservatives pushing in different directions.
Senate Republicans also face pressure from the right. In the House,
conservatives have written to McConnell to express concern about
reports that say the Senate may water down the House bill.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Leslie
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