Democrats re­sist­ing GOP Oba­macare re­peal ef­fort

Schumer: Re­place­ment de­tails be­ing kept se­cret

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY TOM HOW­ELL JR.

In 2013 it was Repub­li­cans who sent the gov­ern­ment into a shutdown over Oba­macare. Democrats aren’t there yet, but they are inch­ing up their re­sis­tance ef­forts, ratch­et­ing up their at­tacks and vow­ing to slow Se­nate busi­ness to a crawl, hop­ing to make the GOP’s Oba­macare re­peal push as painful as pos­si­ble.

In the Se­nate, Democrats vowed Mon­day to use par­lia­men­tary tools to hin­der the rest of Repub­li­cans’ agenda, sop­ping up pre­cious floor time, un­til GOP lead­ers sched­ule hear­ings on their emerg­ing health bill.

Democrats are un­likely to force any changes in Repub­li­cans’ strat­egy, but party lead­ers fig­ure they’ll force the GOP to de­fend its “no hear­ings” tac­tic to the pub­lic as a 13-mem­ber work­ing group toils be­hind closed doors to write a bill.

“The Repub­li­cans are writ­ing their health care bill un­der the cover of dark­ness be­cause they’re ashamed of it, plain and sim­ple,” Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer said. “They’re ashamed that their bill will likely cause mil­lions to lose their health care in­sur­ance; they’re ashamed that it will in­crease costs for older and sicker Amer­i­cans. All to pass along a big, fat tax break for the wealth­i­est among us, the folks who need it the least.”

Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell shot down Mr. Schumer’s re­quest for a hear­ing on the Se­nate plan, say­ing sen­a­tors will have “am­ple op­por­tu­nity to read and amend” it dur­ing an open amend­ment process since Repub­li­cans are us­ing fast-track bud­get rules to pass their plan on a ma­jor­ity vote.

Yet he re­fused to say whether the bill would be avail­able for more than 10 hours be­fore vot­ing be­gins.

“I rest my case,” Mr. Schumer said. Democrats in­sist they’re will­ing to work with Repub­li­cans on health care, but only if the GOP ditches its re­peal pur­suit.

“If your house needs re­pairs, you don’t set your house on fire. You work to fix the is­sues,” Sen. Joe Don­nelly, In­di­ana Demo­crat, said in the first of a se­ries of pro-Oba­macare floor speeches that stretched into the night.

Mr. McCon­nell, how­ever, says Democrats have of­fered no plans other than more gov­ern­ment con­trol and more tax­payer money to bail out the fail­ing Oba­macare ex­changes.

“The Oba­macare sta­tus quo is sim­ply un­sus­tain­able,” Mr. McCon­nell said. “The Amer­i­can peo­ple de­serve re­lief, and we’ll keep work­ing to pro­vide it.”

For now, the Se­nate’s sched­ule this week is fo­cused on con­firm­ing Pres­i­dent Trump’s nom­i­nees — some­thing Democrats had been ob­struct­ing any­way.

Se­nate GOP lead­ers have been eye­ing a health care vote by the July 4 break, though some sen­a­tors have said the ef­fort could stretch deeper into the sum­mer.

The Demo­cratic Se­na­to­rial Cam­paign Com­mit­tee isn’t wait­ing for floor ac­tion. It re­leased ads tar­get­ing three GOP sen­a­tors fac­ing re-elec­tion in 2018: Jeff Flake of Ari­zona, Dean Heller of Ne­vada and Ted Cruz of Texas. Mr. Cruz’s anti-Oba­macare re­bel­lion sparked a 16-day fed­eral shutdown in 2013, though he is tak­ing a more co­op­er­a­tive stance with GOP lead­er­ship this time around now that Repub­li­cans con­trol all levers of po­lit­i­cal power in D.C.

The DSCC also tar­geted ads at Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Re­pub­li­can who might chal­lenge Sen. Bill Nel­son, Florida Demo­crat. The ads fea­ture a fa­ther and mother sell­ing off their pickup truck and en­gage­ment ring to af­ford care for their ail­ing daugh­ter.

Poorer and older Amer­i­cans could see their costs rise un­der the GOP plan, while younger, health­ier Amer­i­cans are ex­pected to fare bet­ter than un­der Oba­macare, ac­cord­ing to a Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice re­port that es­ti­mated 23 mil­lion fewer peo­ple would hold in­sur­ance by 2026 un­der the House bill.

The Re­pub­li­can Study Com­mit­tee, a large bloc of House con­ser­va­tives, said it is get­ting antsy about Se­nate ef­forts to soften the bill.

In a draft let­ter to Mr. McCon­nell, the RSC said fail­ure to pre­serve four as­pects of the House plan “may jeop­ar­dize” fi­nal pas­sage when it re­turns to their cham­ber: pre­vent­ing new states from ex­pand­ing Med­i­caid, while freez­ing gen­er­ous fund­ing for those that al­ready have it in 2020; al­low­ing states to waive Oba­macare’s reg­u­la­tions on in­sur­ers; re­peal­ing Oba­macare’s taxes as swiftly as pos­si­ble; and de­fund­ing Planned Par­ent­hood and mak­ing sure new, re­fund­able tax cred­its can­not be used for abor­tion.

The RSC is gath­er­ing sig­na­tures for the let­ter be­fore it sends it off later in the week.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer said the GOP is draft­ing an Oba­macare re­place­ment bill in se­cret due to their own shame.

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