KHN Morning Briefing

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Lacking Real Power To Alter GOP Bill, Democrats Try To Throw Wrench In Process Itself

As Republicans race toward a self-imposed deadline to vote on their legislation, Democrats take steps to slow down work in the Senate.

The New York Times: Senate Democrats Try To Gum Up Works Over Affordable Care Act Repeal
Democrats vowed on Monday to slow work in the Senate to a crawl to protest the secrecy surrounding the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, as Republican leaders raced to prepare a bill for a vote as soon as next week. Without the votes to stop the majority party from passing a bill, Democrats can only draw attention to the way Republicans are creating their bill — behind closed doors without a single hearing or public bill-drafting session. (Kaplan and Pear, 6/19)

The Associated Press: Dems' Motions, Speeches Knock GOP Health Bill For Secrecy
They threatened to slow the Senate's work with procedural motions. They forced the chamber's top Republican to swat aside reasonable sounding requests, like holding committee hearings. And they delivered speech after speech after speech. Democrats used all those tools Monday evening to try drawing attention to the Senate GOP's secretive effort to craft a bill scuttling President Barack Obama's health care law and push it through the chamber by next week's end. Their largely symbolic effort was likely to have little or no impact on how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell handles the measure. (Fram, 6/19)

USA Today: Democrats To Slow-Walk Senate Business Over Health Care Bill
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Democrats will object to requests for “unanimous consent” to set aside rules and expedite proceedings. The procedural move is a tactic the minority party can use to draw out the legislative process for days, forcing Republicans to jump through procedural hurdles to get anything done. The goal, he said, is to refer the GOP health care bill to a committee where it can be debated and amended publicly. Republicans are writing their bill “under the cover of darkness because they’re ashamed of it,” he said. (Gaudiano, 6/19)

Politico: Democrats To Halt Senate Business Over Obamacare Repeal
Holding the floor on Monday evening won’t change the timing of a health care vote. And Democrats are unlikely to be able to force the House bill to committee or delay it. But it will force Republicans to answer for what Democrats say is a rushed process and bad policy. Some Senate Democrats also are preparing to block lengthy committee hearings beginning on Tuesday, although Democratic leaders have not announced or confirmed that decision. Any senator can block a hearing from extending past the first two hours of the Senate's day. But when partisan tensions are high, the hearing requests are sometimes denied to make a point. (Haberkorn, 6/19)

Politico: Some Dems Reluctant To Shut Down Senate Committees Over Obamacare
Even as Senate Democrats began a Monday night talk-a-thon designed to spotlight the GOP’s still-secret Obamacare repeal plan, some of their own questioned the party's other potential procedural tactic to block committees from meeting this week. The skepticism within the caucus underscores the risk facing Senate Democrats as they launch an all-out battle against a Republican health care bill they have had zero power to influence. (Schor and Kim, 6/19)

The Hill: Dems Threaten To Gum Up Senate Over 'Secret' ObamaCare Bill
Democrats are expected to make a series of unanimous consent requests on Monday evening on the House-passed ObamaCare repeal and replacement bill, including trying to send it to a Senate committee and "forcing Republicans to publicly defend their 'no hearings strategy,' " according to the senior Senate Democratic aide. They have hounded Republicans over their legislation, which is still being hashed out in a series of closed-door meetings. (Carney, 6/19)

Morning Consult: Democrats Aim To Stymie Senate GOP’s Health Care Efforts
Senate Democrats have used the same procedural tactic to slow confirmation votes for several of President Donald Trump’s nominations, though they were unable to block them entirely. Objecting to unanimous consent forces Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to go through the cloture process, extending debate on any matter at hand for as many 30 hours. (Reid, 6/19)

Roll Call: Senate Democrats Can’t Slow GOP Health Care Bill Once It’s Written
[O]nce Republicans finalize amendment language for the measure that houses the GOP plan to revamp the nation’s health insurance system, there will not be much debate at all. Schumer and his Democratic colleagues have begun to throw the kitchen sink to drive attention to the secretive nature of the GOP negotiations on the health care bill. (Lesniewski, 6/20)

The CT Mirror: Dems — Including CT’s Senators — Plan To Disrupt Senate Over Health Care Plan 
Democrats, with the help of Connecticut’s senators, plan to jam up the Senate this week to bring attention to Republican attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care act. Beginning Monday evening, the Democrats will use Senate procedures to try to block business both on and off the Senate floor. They say Republicans are using Senate procedures to keep the crafting of their health care bill from the public. (Radelat and Beaudoin, 6/19)

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