As Senate Vote on Obamacare Looms, Republicans Defend Closed-door Process

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans could bring legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act up for a vote as early as next week, with a “discussion draft” expected Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced.The news comes as Republicans — including Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz — push back against mounting criticism of the GOP’s closed-door negotiations over the measure. Democrats are blasting what they say is a rushed and secretive process, with GOP leaders poised to skip public hearings before voting on the bill that will affect millions of Americans. A handful of Republicans have expressed similar concerns.“There’s nothing being done in secret here,” Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican leader, told reporters on Tuesday. “We have to vote on it in public and there will be an opportunity to debate it and amend it.”GOP senators have been meeting for months over an Obamacare replacement but have remained tight-lipped about those talks and how much of the bill will mirror the House-passed American Health Care Act. Though sections of the Senate bill have been sent to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for cost analysis, the legislation hasn’t been finalized, Cornyn said. McConnell told reporters Tuesday a vote on that bill will be held once the CBO has analyzed the impact of the legislation.That leaves “plenty of time” for public consideration before the vote, Cornyn said Tuesday, noting that under the parliamentary rules the Senate is using for the overhaul, floor debate could last 10 hours or longer and unlimited amendments can be offered.“I suspect people are going to see and hear as much and more about this than maybe they even want to,” he said.   Continue reading...

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