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June 22, 2017

After weeks of secrecy, Senate health care bill to be released to public

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    • After spending weeks drafting a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act behind closed doors, Republican leaders in the Senate released the bill to the rest of Congress and the public on Thursday. Because just 13 Republican Senators oversaw the drafting of the bill, even most Senate Republicans had not seen the language before its release.
    • On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that a draft of the bill was similar to the House bill passed in early May, although it would cut Medicaid expansion more slowly but more deeply in the long term.
    • While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he wants to hold a vote before the July 4 recess, multiple GOP Senators have expressed discomfort with the quick timeline and doubt that they will be able to vote yes. McConnell can only afford to lose two GOP votes as no Democrats are expected to support the bill.
    • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was reluctant to support the bill, calling it “Obamacare-lite.” Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin (R-WI) additionally said that a vote next week is too soon. Other possible swing votes could include Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Dean Heller (R-NV). 

  1. Essential question: What impact does the health care debate have on the lives of ordinary Americans?
  2. What potential problems might arise when 13 Republican men write a bill without outside input, and what might they be missing? Who else’s input might be valuable?
  3. What were some of the controversial aspects of the health care bill passed by the House in May?
  4. What happens next in the lawmaking process when the House and the Senate pass two different versions of a bill?

Extension Activity:

The Indivisible Project’s Trumpcare Ten site focuses on the ten Republican Senators in vulnerable seats whose votes might determine the future of the Republican health care bill. Through the website, visitors are encouraged to put pressure on their Senator to vote against the bill can submit amendments. Have students explore the website and determine whether they think it is an effective tool. (Note: this resource was created by a partisan organization. However, it is a good example of grassroots organizing and the efforts citizens can make to influence legislative outcomes.)

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