Democrats to halt Senate business over Obamacare repeal
Democrats will grind Senate business to a halt in a protest against Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare.
Beginning Monday night, Democrats will start objecting to all unanimous consent requests in the Senate, according to a Democratic aide. 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.
Without the votes to block Obamacare repeal, Democrats are turning to procedural moves they believe will underscore their most powerful argument: Republicans are hiding their repeal plan from the public and using Senate procedures to keep it a secret.
"Republicans are drafting this bill in secret because they're ashamed of it, plain and simple," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. "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 health care coverage. 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."
Holding the floor on Monday evening won’t change the timing of a health care vote. And Democrats are unlikely to be able to force the House bill to committee or delay it. But it will force Republicans to answer for what Democrats say is a rushed process and bad policy.
Some Senate Democrats also are preparing to block lengthy committee hearings beginning on Tuesday, although Democratic leaders have not announced or confirmed that decision. Any senator can block a hearing from extending past the first two hours of the Senate's day. But when partisan tensions are high, the hearing requests are sometimes denied to make a point.
Democrats also plan to make a series of parliamentary inquiries to highlight differences between the passage of Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, and Republicans’ efforts to write and pass their bill.
Progressive groups have been pressuring Senate Democrats to forcefully oppose the Republican repeal efforts. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to hold a floor vote by the end of next week, although it is unclear whether enough of his Republican members support a plan to do so.
Democrats may still allow some honorary, bipartisan resolutions.
Burgess Everett contributed to this report.