Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
U.S. | By Monique Johnson

Schumer, Democrats Play 'Hardball' to Delay Republican Health Care Bill

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY said Democrats will object to requests for "unanimous consent" to set aside rules and expedite proceedings. That analysis is required for a Senate vote in order to ensure that the legislation complies with the fast-track budget procedure known as reconciliation that the GOP is using to advance the bill. They called for open committee hearings and more time to consider the bill before a Senate vote, which Republicans say could come in the next two weeks, although a draft bill has yet to emerge publicly.

"This radical departure from normal procedure, on a bill of such outcome", Schumer said on the Senate floor, "leaves the Senate minority little choice but to depart from normal procedure as well". They are reportedly planning to bring the chamber to a halt starting Monday in protest to force Republicans to bring the bill to a committee rather than directly to the floor and to delay the vote.

While the Trump Administration Hydra grows a new venomous head almost every hour, a handful of Senate Republicans are quietly trying to push through an Obamacare replacement bill before the July 4th recess. Democratic lawmakers are also responding to growing pressure from progressive activists who have been calling for more aggressive opposition.

The move by Democrats to slow Senate business will not impact consideration of President Trump's nominee to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, who is expected to be confirmed Tuesday, according to a Senate Democratic aide.

Using tactics like parliamentary inquiries and unanimous consent requests, Democrats are drawing comparison to the process used to usher in Obamacare.

McConnell will need to win the votes of 50 of the 52 GOP senators to push the bill through the Senate. Democrats have even suggested a scenario in which Senate debate begins on a preliminary version of the GOP measure and McConnell offers the final package as a late amendment, giving Democrats little or no time to criticize it. Lawmakers at the time were pressured by constituents to "Read the bill!" before they voted.

"Democrats for MONTHS have stated they have no interest in working with Republicans on fixing Obamacare", Michael Reed, the Republican National Committee's research director and deputy communications director, wrote in a statement.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are outraged.

"We've been debating Obamacare's failures and what to do about them for so many years now", McConnell said Monday on the Senate floor.

The discussion occurred just hours before their colleagues in the Senate planned to take control of the floor for a talk-a-thon against the passage of Republican legislation.

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