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Senate Democrats try to turn up political heat over GOP health care bill

Published: Monday, June 19, 2017 @ 7:57 AM

In a bid to derail GOP efforts to overhaul the Obama health law, Democrats are vowing to use the rules to slow legislative work in the Senate, trying to call more attention to closed door Republican negotiations on a GOP health care plan, and the lack of public details on how the Senate might change a health bill approved by the House in May.

"Here's the order of people seeing the healthcare bill," wrote Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) on Twitter. "13 dudes in secret, then Republican lobbyists, then CBO, then you and me. Sick."

Democrats planned to showcase their frustration on health care with an evening of floor speeches in the Senate, but also by refusing to move ahead on non-controversial measures, objecting to simple "unanimous consent" requests.

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"If GOP won't debate health care in public, they shouldn't expect business as usual in the Senate," said Matt House, spokesman for Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.

The lack of public hearings on what Senate Republicans might do on health care has been getting more and more attention from Democrats in recent weeks, as GOP leaders labor to find agreement on a plan that can get 50 votes in the Senate.

No draft bill has yet been made available, though a variety of details have emerged in recent weeks on how Republicans might alter a House-passed health bill.

Those talks involve 13 GOP Senators - no Democrats are in the room.

It's not clear if Republicans will be able to come to an agreement fast enough to hold a vote before they leave late next week for a July Fourth break - that still seems like a long shot at this point.

Democrats argue it's time for the GOP to release the details of their revised health care plan - #ShowUsTheBill was the Twitter tag that Democrats rolled out, as they planned their public relations offensive on the Senate floor.

Last week they swiftly latched on to a quote from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who told reporters that the GOP wasn't hiding anything on health care.

"We’ll let you see the bill when we finally release it,” the Majority Leader said.

At the White House, Press Secretary Sean Spicer wasn't sure if the President had seen any details on the GOP health plan in the Senate; last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price had told Senators he did not know what Senate Republicans were choosing in terms of health overhaul options.

Asked if the President had seen the GOP bill, Spicer said simply, "I don’t know. I have not asked that question."

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