Several Senate Republicans are criticizing their own party for negotiating and writing an ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill largely behind closed doors and without input from Democrats.
“Healthcare is such an important thing. I think we should have debated it in open, in committee hearings, have both sides bring in witnesses,” Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulRepublicans are criticizing healthcare process in the Senate A frantic scramble before possible healthcare vote next week This week: Senate plots path on healthcare MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday.
“I would like a more open process, that's for sure,” said Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiRepublicans are criticizing healthcare process in the Senate Senators: Trump’s Interior budget is going nowhere A frantic scramble before possible healthcare vote next week MORE (R-Alaska), another key vote on the bill.Republicans may vote on the bill as soon as next week, even though there is no legislation to date to look at and lawmakers don’t know the entirety of what will be in the legislation.
It’s possible senators will see a bill on Thursday, though that is not expected to be a public release.
Senate Republicans also did not hold any committee hearings on their bill.
Asked if he would have enough time to review the bill before a vote next week, Paul said, “That's a big question.”
Murkowski said she hasn’t seen a bill and doesn’t know how she’ll vote.
“I cannot say what I would vote for if I haven't seen it,” she said. “That's where a real problem is, because nobody — I shouldn't say that. This person has not seen anything.”
Even senators are not sure when they will see the text.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said he had heard from the “rumor mill” that he will see the text later this week but had not heard that from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellGOP senator: ObamaCare repeal bill coming Thursday Republicans are criticizing healthcare process in the Senate The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ky.).
Asked if he was comfortable voting next week without having seen a bill as of Tuesday, Cassidy said: “I've always said I would have preferred a more open process.”
Democrats fear that the bill will only be released publicly just hours before the vote next week, minimizing time for review or for opposition to build.
Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles SchumerDems step up attacks on GOP ObamaCare bill Live coverage: Senate Dems hold talkathon to protest GOP health plan GOP exploiting Virginia shooting in Georgia election MORE (N.Y.) asked McConnell on the Senate floor Monday if the bill would be publicly available for at least 10 hours before the vote.
McConnell declined to commit, saying, “I think we’ll have ample opportunity to read and amend the bill.”
Three Senate Democrats actually drove to the office of the Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday to draw attention to the lack of a public bill.
Senate leaders point out that all senators will have the opportunity to offer amendments to the bill, which will then be voted on in a long series known as a “vote-a-rama.”
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP senator: ObamaCare repeal bill coming Thursday Republicans are criticizing healthcare process in the Senate The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said there will “absolutely” be enough time to review the bill before a vote next week.
“We've all been debating this for seven years, and the House bill is sort of the starting point in the Senate, I expect there to be some changes but I think there will be plenty of time,” he said. “We'll have a vote-a-rama, there will be dozens if not hundreds of amendments, and we will debate as long as the Democrats want to debate.”