Senate Republicans are working to fast-track a health care bill in utmost secrecy before the July 4 recess. It’s clear that the bill—which is shaping up to be as disastrous as the House-passed American Health Care Act—won’t be let out of the dungeon until the very last second to avoid scrutiny. Republicans aren’t planning to hold any hearings and they won’t publicly release a draft of their bill because, as one senior GOP Senate aide told Axios, “We aren’t stupid.”
If Mitch McConnell and the Republican majority want to pass a bill taking away health insurance from some 20 million Americans, there isn’t much that Democrats can do about it in the end. But they can delay the process—and activists are pushing them to do just that. Groups like Indivisible and Move On want Democrats to withhold consent—a parliamentary maneuver that slows down Senate business—to trip up McConnell. According to Jeff Stein at Vox, Senate Democrats don’t have any current plans to do so. They argue that “going nuclear” would only unify Republicans in their resolve and would, at most, stall the inevitable by a few weeks:
But those few weeks can be vital. When the House passed the AHCA in May, speed was of the essence: Activists were caught flat-footed and were unable to put pressure on House members in full force. The political theater of Senate Democrats making a last stand to delay the bill would help garner more publicity for that effort. More importantly, it would shine a light on what Republicans are doing: They are jamming through a massive overhaul of the health care system in secret, one that will likely kick millions of Americans off their health insurance, literally leaving some people to die by 2018.
Trumpcare is extremely unpopular and people don’t want cuts to programs like Medicaid. People also want affordable health care! This is a no-brainer fight for Democrats to pick. Right now, the news cycle is (rightfully) completely bonkers about Trump and Russia, with James Comey’s testimony last week and Jeff Sessions’s scheduled for later this afternoon. It’s easy for the Republican health care bill to get lost in the shuffle. Senate Democrats can’t let that happen.