The Senate is planning next Thursday to vote on its version of Trumpcare, a bill that will repeal Obamacare and reshape one-sixth of the American economy. The bill, however, is completely secret. There has been no legislative text released, no public hearings, no markup, and no debate.
This strategy has been widely criticized as anti-democratic. A short interview Tuesday morning on MSNBC revealed why Mitch McConnell is pursuing it anyway.
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), appeared on Morning Joe, and was asked if he’d seen the bill. Corker said he had not.
Although the bill is based on the House version, Corker now had an easy way to avoid discussing anything of substance about a plan to could leave hundreds of thousands of people in his state without health insurance.
“I am going to vote for this bill or vote against this bill determined based on how it affects people in Tennessee, and actually how it affects our nation,” Corker said.
Corker then attempted to portray himself as a bystander, saying he would have preferred a different process. Corker said he would have liked “for this to be a more open process and have committee hearings, but that’s not what we’re doing.”
The conversation was brief (How long can you talk about a bill that no one has seen?) and Corker emerged unscathed.
In short, the exchange above is far preferable to Republicans than having to defend the substance of their party’s plans on health care. The Senate version is not expected to dramatically differ from the House version, which currently about 20% of the American public supports.
Beyond the politics, there is really no explanation for why the bill is being drafted and debated in secret. The contrast with how Obamacare was debated in the Senate could not be starker:
[T]he Senate health committee spent nearly 60 hours over 13 days marking up the bill that became the Affordable Care Act. That September and October, the Senate Finance Committee worked on the legislation for eight days — its longest markup in two decades. It considered more than 130 amendments and held 79 roll-call votes.
The full Senate debated the health care bill for 25 straight days before passing it on Dec. 24, 2009.
Mitch McConnell plans to allow just 10 hours to amend and debate the bill, once it is finally unveiled.