Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has declared the Trumpcare process in the Senate a “sham” and says that Democrats will not participate in it by offering any more amendments until “the majority leader shows his hand, reveals what his bill will actually be,” at which time, “Democrats will use the opportunity to try and amend the bill.”
We know the Republicans are not going to take a final vote on the underlying house bill, which is still the pending legislation. And now the Republican leadership team has been telling the press about a yet to be disclosed final bill. If the reports are true, the Republicans will offer a skinny repeal plan. […]
If the reporting is accurate and skinny repeal is their plan, it makes premiums far higher than they are today. We don’t know if skinny repeal is going to be their final bill. But if it is, the CBO Says it would cause costs to go up and millions to lose insurance. Now in the meantime, madam president, Democrats are not going to continue to try and amend the house plan that is already dead. Certainly while we’re not going to do that while there’s some secret legislation—skinny repeal it’s reported—waiting to emerge from the leader’s office. The Republican leader has said that this is a robust amendment process. No, it isn’t. Far from it. We don’t even know what bill to direct our amendments to.
Certainly a process that bypassed the committees and public hearings was never an open and transparent process. It was never a robust amendment process to this bill. But now it’s gotten even worse. Since the beginning of this debate, we’ve just been taking votes on amendments to a piece of dead legislation. What kind of process is this?
Then he gave a little dig at Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and his colleagues for playing along, saying “Anyone who listened to that speech should blush at this sham of an amendment process thus far.”
By the way, what he’s talking about with the CBO is some fast work they did on behalf of Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Patty Murray (D-WA) on what “skinny repeal” could mean. One outcome: 42 million losing insurance next year.
Schumer is showing what a farce this whole process is, and if Republicans were capable of feeling shame, they would. However, Democrats are losing an opportunity to get Republicans on the record on some really politically damaging things already. It is stopping Democrats from dragging this process out, but there were real limits to how long they could keep the Senate from moving. At any point, McConnell could have called an end to the amendment process, so their were limits on that protest as well.
And maybe they figure a Republican taking a vote to raise premiums astronomically and kick 42 million people off of insurance in one year (an election year) is embarrassing and politically damaging enough.