Democrats stall US Senate work to protest healthcare secrecy

Democrats stall US Senate work to protest healthcare secrecy

Democrats will begin slow-walking Senate business on Monday as part of their opposition to Republican attempts to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Democrats fear he is purposely keeping the bill under wraps until the last minute so he can jam the controversial plan through with just a few hours of floor debate.

This process defies two centuries of Senate tradition that says the upper chamber is the statesmanlike brake on the passions of the more raucous House.

The protest is being streamed live on Facebook, and Democratic lawmakers are asking Americans to join their protest under the hashtags #ShowUsTheBill and #HoldTheFloor.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is no doubt very well aware of his options. One reason, as even President Donald Trump this week acknowledged - six weeks after holding a Rose Garden ceremony to celebrate it - is that the House bill is "mean".

The Senate's version of an Obamacare repeal was crafted by a 13-lawmaker panel made up of GOP leadership, committee chairmen, and conservative lawmakers-all of whom are men.

MCEVERS: And McConnell says he wants a vote on this bill before the July 4 congressional recess.

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Sensing that the unpopular GOP bill could give them an advantage in 2018, Democrats will contrast how their approach to passing Obamacare differed from how Republicans are treating their legislation.

Lacking the votes to derail or change the Republican process, the maneuvers by the Democratic minority seemed more aimed at highlighting Republican efforts on a controversial issue. Many Republican senators have pushed for a more gradual phaseout in their bill, as well as preserving certain protections for preexisting conditions under the ACA not maintained in the House bill. They're also under enormous pressure to move as the Trump White House seeks a legislative win and the clock ticks on other priorities, from tax reform to funding the government and lifting the debt ceiling. These include a bipartisan bill the Senate approved last week sanctioning Russian Federation for interfering in last year's election, and the deal McConnell and then-Vice President Joe Biden helped finalize preventing sharp tax increases in 2013.

"I don't have any guidance on what they have planned this week", a McConnell spokesperson said.

The Affordable Care Act that the Republicans propose to repeal and replace was a product of 14 months of hearings and amendments. They plan to control the floor of the chamber Monday night and try to force the House-passed health care bill to committee in a bid to further delay it.

McConnell is hoping Americans won't notice.

The AHCA also would allow states under certain circumstances to apply for waivers that exempt insurance companies from having to cover numerous essential health benefits that are guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act. "If they liked the bill, they'd have brass bands marching down the middle of small-town America saying what a great bill it is".

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