Democrats may drag Senate to a halt over GOP's secret ACA repeal bill

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House in June 2017.
Source: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House in June 2017.
Source: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Democrats are considering obstructing the day-to-day business of the Senate as part of their overall opposition to Republicans' plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, CNN reported Saturday.

The strategy could include obstructing routine tasks, demands for an open process for the ultra-secretive bill and parliamentary maneuvers to "prevent committees from meeting for longer than two hours," according to CNN.

Senate Republicans have been crafting their health care bill under a veil of secrecy after numerous stumbles in the House, which was only barely able to pass an ultra-conservative bill the Congressional Budget Office concluded would strip at least 24 million people of insurance in the next decade. The Senate version is widely expected to be more moderate, although in the House, moderates failed to stop the bill from becoming even more conservative than its original incarnation.

On their own, Democrats have little chance of stopping the bill. But a decision to play hardball could increase the chances of Republican defections, which could prevent the bill from reaching the straight majority GOP leadership needs to pass it under reconciliation rules.

It would also placate, somewhat, the numerous activists concerned that Democrats are not fighting Republicans in their attempt to take health care away from millions of people. For their part, at least some Senate Democrats have seemed to be of the view that putting up a fight would accomplish little and risk galvanizing the GOP into passing a bill more quickly.

Senate Democrats have lately urged the media not to focus squarely on President Donald Trump's Russia scandal, saying that once Republicans reach a secret compromise, there might not be much stopping them from rushing it through to a vote with little opportunity for the public to react.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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