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June 21, 2017

Senate Democrats increase opposition as secret health care bill picks up steam

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This graphic highlights the differences between the legislative process that led to Obamacare and the legislative process currently underway in the Senate to repeal and replace Obamacare.

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)  promised on June 20, 2017 that a draft of the effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would be available on June 22. So far, the bill has been drafted behind closed doors and Senate Democrats have demonstrated strong opposition, including a late-night talk-a-thon on the Senate floor on June 19.
  • A report by the Washington Post claimed that the Senate bill would call for deeper Medicaid cuts than the House version, which called for $800 billion in cuts over the course of 10 years. Senators are also reportedly considering more generous insurance subsidies, especially for older patients, and eliminating some Obamacare taxes.
  • Republicans do not expect any Democrats to support the bill, which means that they can afford to lose two Republican votes with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie. Republicans criticized Democrats in 2010 for passing the Affordable Care Act without bipartisan support.
  • Senator John Cornyn  (R-TX) said that the Senate bill would be 80 percent like the House bill. Republican Senate leadership has said that they plan to hold a vote before the July 4 recess, and if the bill passes in the Senate, differences between the House and Senate versions will have to be ironed out before it can be voted on in both chambers again.

  1. Essential question: What has the legislative process to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act looked like?
  2. What could be some consequences of drafting a bill behind closed doors without bipartisan cooperation?
  3. Why are Senate Democrats upset that they have not seen the health care bill?
  4. How does the legislative process behind the Obamacare repeal effort differ from the civics textbook definition of how a bill becomes a law? What steps have been missing?
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