By Bob Bryan
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Senate Democrats plan to go all out in their protest against the GOP healthcare bill starting Monday night.
Lawmakers in the party plan to use a series of stall tactics to draw attention to the way Republicans are writing their version of the American Health Care Act and protest the policy changes that are expected to be in the bill.
A Democratic Senate aide told Business Insider the move will consist of four measures:
- Objecting to all unanimous-consent requests. On requests or resolutions that have bipartisan support, unanimous consent is used to speed up the process. While this will not prevent any measure from passing, it can slow down proceedings significantly. The Democratic aide said some resolutions will be allowed through, such as a resolution honoring the victims of last week’s congressional baseball shooting.
- Submitting a series of unanimous consent requests “to attempt to force the House-passed healthcare bill to committee, delay” a series of votes on the legislation, “and increase transparency, forcing Republicans to publicly defend their ‘no hearings strategy.’”
- Using a series of parliamentary procedures “to highlight the difference between the open process used to pass the Affordable Care Act and the process Republicans are pursuing now.”
- Highlighting healthcare issues “late into the evening in a series of speeches.”
While none of these measures can hold up the bill indefinitely, the Democratic protests will slow down the Senate business and likely bring more attention to the issue.
Currently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and top Republicans are writing the bill in private to avoid intense publicly scrutiny.
Despite reports suggesting McConnell intends to bring the bill to the floor for a vote by the week-long July 4 recess, there is no public text, no Congressional Budget Office score, and scant details on what the bill will contain.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement that the moves are designed to shed a light on the bill because the secretive process shows Republicans are “ashamed of it, plain and simple.”
“These are merely the first steps we’re prepared to take in order to shine a light on this shameful Trumpcare bill and reveal to the public the GOP’s true intentions: to give the uber-wealthy a tax break while making middle class Americans pay more for less healthcare coverage,” Schumer said. “If Republicans won’t relent and debate their health care bill in the open for the American people to see, then they shouldn’t expect business as usual in the Senate.”
While a good number of Senate GOP members have also expressed frustration about the closed-door process being used to pass the bill, none have publicly rejected the tactic. In a statement, the Republican National Committee called the move a “a pure partisan game aimed at placating the far-left.”