Senate Republicans plan to vote on their secret bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) next week. On Monday evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) signaled that the bill — which is reportedly shaping up to cost more than 20 million Americans their health insurance while cutting taxes for the wealthy — will be subject to as little public scrutiny as possible before the Republican majority forces a vote on it.
There hasn’t been a single public hearing on the plan to reshape one-sixth of the American economy — a plan being drafted behind closed doors by Republicans. This creates an awkward dynamic for Republicans who asserted back in 2009 and 2010 that months of open congressional hearings and floor debate about the ACA weren’t enough.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is among the Republican senators pushing for a speedy health care vote and untroubled by the process his caucus is using to get there. He felt very differently back in 2010, however.
The people have a right to know what is happening behind closed doors with secret HC negotiations
— JohnCornyn (@JohnCornyn) January 7, 2010
How about the rest of America that was excluded from secret talks: White House nears deal on health care? http://bit.ly/5dK7b6
— JohnCornyn (@JohnCornyn) January 15, 2010
So did then-U.S. representative Mike Pence, who as vice president could cast the tiebreaking vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), otherwise known as Trumpcare.
It's simply wrong for legislation that'll affect 100% of the American people to be negotiated behind closed doors – http://ow.ly/W9gq #hcr
— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) January 13, 2010
Back in 2009, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said it was essential for Americans to “watch” the public committee hearings, noting that it affects one-sixth of the American economy and is a “Big lift” for Congress.
If u hv time watch Finance Comm during amending process of Health Care. Affects 1/6th economy and evry American. Big lift for Congress
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) September 23, 2009
But last week, Grassley signaled he’s prepared to vote for the AHCA without a single public hearing being held about it.
It’s unclear whether Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will vote for the AHCA, though he left the door open to doing so during an interview with Vox last week. In 2009, however, McCain characterized passing a health care bill without giving people a chance to read it as a “disgrace.”
Democrats about to pass health care bill that no one’s read – where is the transparency? What a disgrace!
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) November 6, 2009
McConnell, now working to rush a vote on the AHCA with as little public scrutiny as possible, took a very different line back in 2009 — as did the Twitter account for Senate Republicans.
Video: Mitch McConnell: Dems Wrote Healthcare Bill In Secret & Are Not Sharing It With Republicans: http://bit.ly/Vh1Rn
— Senate Republicans (@SenateGOP) October 28, 2009
The House Republicans Twitter echoed his talking point.
RT @RepDaveCamp The health care of every American is too important to risk on secret negotiations of this 1000+ page bill: bit.ly/27ziL0
— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) October 27, 2009
So did a number of House Republicans who spoke out about the need for transparency then, but are silent about Senate Republicans’ total secrecy about the AHCA now.
Congress Should Not Draft The Health Care Bill In Secret,All Conference Committee Meetings Should Be Open To The Public http://bit.ly/10tio1
— Rep. Vern Buchanan (@VernBuchanan) October 19, 2009
We deserve openness & transparency in the health care bill negotiations, not more secret backroom deals. Don't you agree? http://is.gd/5Oj8k
— CathyMcMorrisRodgers (@cathymcmorris) January 6, 2010
The American people do not want health care reform negotiated behind closed doors and neither do I. http://tinyurl.com/yeax5ee
— Rep. Walter Jones (@RepWalterJones) January 6, 2010
Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI) "Health Care is too important…to be written behind closed doors." http://bit.ly/2RSqC0
— Ways and Means (@WaysandMeansGOP) October 27, 2009
Back in 2010, then-congressman Tom Price decried secrecy and urged more transparency surrounding the ACA.
With Democrats discussing health care in secret, they're sacrificing the trust of the American people.
— Tom Price (@RepTomPrice) January 14, 2010
And when it comes to a health care bill this bad, a little sunlight could go a long way.
— Tom Price (@RepTomPrice) January 6, 2010
But as Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Price has been speaking out in favor of the AHCA, while acknowledging he hasn’t even read the bill.
He’s not the only Trump administration official who bashed a closed-door approach to health care negotiations back in the day. Consider this tweet from Linda McMahon, who unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate before becoming Trump’s Small Business Administration administrator.
— Linda McMahon (@Linda_McMahon) January 5, 2010
Confronted with their old tweets and statements, Republicans have no answers. As recently as March, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blasted the fact that House Republicans weren’t making an early version of the AHCA available for public review.
I have been told that the House Obamacare bill is under lock & key, in a secure location, & not available for me or the public to view.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 2, 2017
But with an opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare quickly approaching, Paul is now playing the false equivalency game.
Sen Paul decries healthcare process but informs reporters Dems did "exactly the same thing." Told that's untrue, "I'm not going to debate u"
— Todd Zwillich (@toddzwillich) June 20, 2017
During a CNN interview Tuesday morning, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) was asked to respond to Cornyn’s 2010 tweet about the people having “a right to know what is happening behind closed doors with secret HC negotiations.” He could do little more than acknowledge that times have changed.
“Would you at least grant there’s a touch of irony?” a CNN anchor asked him.
“No question about it, I think there is,” Rounds said with a smile.
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) June 20, 2017
The word Rounds was looking for, however, isn’t irony — it’s “hypocrisy.”
h/t — Parker Malloy