Tom Perez On Senate Republicans Negotiating Health Care In Secrecy

As reports come in that Senate Republicans will not release a draft of their health care repeal bill and continue to operate in secrecy, DNC Chair Tom Perez released the following statement:


“The American people deserve a transparent legislative process with public hearings and input from experts. Behind closed doors, 13 Senate Republicans are crafting a mammoth piece of legislation that could dismantle the entire health care system and deprive 23 million more Americans of access to care, while causing unnecessary spikes in premiums for low-income families, older Americans, and those with pre-existing conditions.


“Eight years ago, Democrats passed health care legislation the right way – holding public hearings, meeting with experts, listening to voters, and accepting amendments. With so much at stake, Republicans in Congress owe their constituents the same legislative transparency.”


Republicans are falsely saying that the Affordable Care Act in 2009 was legislated in similar fashion, when in fact the Senate:

  • Debated for 25 consecutive days, 160 hours, on the Senate Floor
  • Held 57 Bipartisan HELP Committee hearings, meetings, roundtables, and walkthroughs
  • Included 300 HELP Committee amendments, 160 of which were from Republicans
  • Held 53 Finance Committee hearings, meetings, negotiations, and walkthrough
  • Held a 7 day Finance Committee markup


Media outlets, policy makers and health care experts agree, an open and transparent legislative process is critical for a bill that could have historic ripple effects:


Salon: Senate GOP vows to keep plugging away at health care — behind closed doors

“The Senate GOP is also conducting its internal negotiations in secret, planning to bring forth whatever bill that emerges direct to the Senate floor rather than to a committee.”


Boston Globe: Why are 13 men — behind closed doors — writing the health care bill?

“From a mere good governance perspective this is simply astounding. The US health care system represents around one-sixth of the nation’s GDP. More than 140 million Americans rely directly on some form of public health care — be it Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or the Obamacare exchanges. Writing a bill that could impact the health care coverage of so many Americans without even a whiff of transparency is policy-making at its absolute worst. That the basis for this effort is the oft-repeated Republican lie that Americans need to be rescued from access to affordable health care coverage provided by Obamacare makes it so much worse.”


The Washington Post: The Senate’s three tools on health care: Sabotage, speed and secrecy

“A small group of Republicans is amending the House bill behind close doors. And for all the talk of having the Senate start over and fix the bad House bill, their reported changes appear to be minimal, and to follow the blueprint laid out by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) that: 80 percent of what the House did we’re likely to do. The ACA’s expansion of Medicaid would end. The caps on Medicaid spending imposed by the House bill would remain. With state approval, insurers would still be able to offer Swiss cheese policies that drop benefits people with preexisting conditions need most.


The Hill: Senate GOP defends writing its healthcare bill in private

“Yet the decision means that there will likely not be public sessions where experts could testify on the effects of the bill, nor will there be a public committee session, known as a markup, where lawmakers could offer amendments changing the legislation. Instead, while Republicans could always change their minds, the measure is on track to be written out of the public eye before heading straight to the Senate floor.”


Business Insider: ‘We have no idea what’s being proposed’: Democratic Senator gives impassioned speech on GOP healthcare bill secrecy

“McCaskill said the reason for the secretive process is obvious. Since Republicans are using the budget reconciliation process, they only need a simple majority to pass the bill, and no need for Democratic votes. But McCaskill charged that amounts to a violation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's promise to use regular order to pass bill, which would include more hearings and public testimony.”


MSNBC: Senator: GOP is writing health care bill in secret, without experts

“Not to put too fine a point on this, but the GOP’s approach isn’t how legislating in the United States is supposed to work. What Bob Corker described is a great example of a post-policy party – trying to write a bill in the dark with little to no input from subject-matter experts, authorities, or stakeholders – but it’s a pretty ridiculous way to craft life-or-death legislation affecting one-sixth of the world’s largest economy.”