Republican Senators Attempt To Obstruct Markup of Health Care Bill

Today, as the HELP Committee began marking up the ‘Affordable Health Care Act,’ Republicans tried to obstruct the effort by complaining that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had not yet scored the entire proposal.

But as Sam Stein reported yesterday, it was Republicans who pushed for the incomplete HELP bill to be studied by the CBO, and “when poor results came back,” they pretended that the agency scored the entire bill. Indeed, yesterday, Reps. John Boehner (R-OH), Eric Cantor (R-VA), Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and John McCain (R-AZ) criticized the committee for producing a bill that cost $1 trillion but covered only 16 million Americans, purposely ignoring the CBO’s admission that “those figures are not likely to represent the impact that more comprehensive proposals…would have both on the federal budget and on the extent of insurance coverage.”

But today, Sens. McCain and Judd Gregg (R-NH) argued that the hearing be postponed until a full cost-analysis is available. Watch it:

The delaying tactics extended into the GOP’s amendments. Rather than offering constructive improvements that could lower costs and expand coverage, a good number of the GOP’s proposed amendments do nothing to solve the health care crisis:

Coburn 51: To prohibit the use of funds to build football stadiums.

Coburn 111: To prohibit the Department of Health and Human Services from providing funding for fashion shows.

Enzi 59: To prohibit the Secretary from requiring the use of best practices.

Enzi 87: To strike provisions relating to oral health.

Coburn 43: To rename the community health program subtitle IV – would rename it the “Federal Takeover of Local Communities.”

Coburn 102: To limit the amount the Department of Health and Human Services may spend on conferences each year

Coburn 29: To ensure that abortion providers are not co‐locating at schools in order to be integrated into school‐based health clinics and gain access to potential clients.

Ezra Klein observes that “the Republicans on HELP feel, or say they feel, that they were frozen out of this process. They say the bill is inadequate and its path to creation has been unforgivably partisan.” But these Republican fail to advance reform or solve the health care crisis. Rather, they preserve the current system, which, as Sen. Barbara Mikulsky (D-MD) observed during the hearing, “is a combination of Adam Smith, Darth Vader, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”