As Senate Republicans put the finishing touches on draft legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, party leaders are reportedly working to shield details of their proposal from the public eye and their Democratic colleagues.
Axios reports that Republican senators are hoping to send their controversial proposal to the Congressional Budget Office as swiftly as possible, bypassing public scrutiny of what is likely to be a deeply unpopular plan.
“We aren’t stupid,” one aide to a senior Republican senator told the site, adding, “We are still in discussions about what will be in the final product so it is premature to release any draft absent further member conversations and consensus.”
Once the CBO evaluates the bill, Republicans will call the measure to a vote in hopes of passing it before Congress goes to recess for the Fourth of July.
The effort to conceal draft legislation of the American Health Care Act is one of the most striking signs yet that Republicans are keenly aware of how explosive the proposal is among the American public. Republicans could barely get their health care bill through the House, even after staging a similar endeavor to shroud the bill in secrecy. In March, the CBO estimated that 23 million additional people would be left uninsured under the House version of the bill.
Last week, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) invoked the Senate’s Rule 14 for the bill, which allows Republicans to bypass the relevant committees and quickly force the measure to a floor vote.
It begins: McConnell initiates the "Rule 14" process of putting the House-passed AHCA on the Senate calendar for fast-track consideration.
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) June 7, 2017
McConnell’s move added to mounting concerns by Democratic senators, including Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), that Republicans were fast-tracking the bill without any public hearings.