File photo of the U.S. Capitol by Zach Gibson/Reuters

Democrats say Republicans reshaping health care in secret in Congress

WASHINGTON — Democrats plan to slow the Senate’s work, force votes and make late-night speeches in an effort to focus attention on how Republicans are crafting legislation revamping the nation’s health care system behind closed doors, a senior Democratic aide said Monday.

The effort comes with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hoping to weave together a bill dismantling much of former President Barack Obama’s health care law so the Senate can vote on it before leaving for its July 4 recess.

Republicans have held no committee meetings or votes on the measure, which McConnell is trying to produce from numerous private meetings among GOP senators.

Democrats, who solidly oppose the Republican effort but lack the votes to block it, are trying to capitalize on the secrecy and contrast it with the numerous committee meetings and votes that produced the 2010 statute.

McConnell will need to win the votes of 50 of the 52 GOP senators to push the bill through the Senate. It remains unclear if he’ll be able to write legislation that will attract enough votes.

Republicans are writing their measure privately “because they’re ashamed of it,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a written statement.

“If Republicans won’t relent and debate their health care bill in the open for the American people to see, then they shouldn’t expect business as usual in the Senate,” Schumer said.

A spokesman for McConnell declined to comment.

A senior Democratic aide said the effort will begin Monday evening.

It will include trying to force votes aimed at drawing attention to the lack of transparency, such as committee hearings, on the GOP legislation.

The aide said Democrats will begin slowing work on bills by refusing to let the Senate bypass time-consuming procedural steps, which it customarily does on most legislation. Democratic senators will also make floor speeches late Monday on the subject.

The GOP-run House narrowly approved its version of the legislation last month.

President Donald Trump privately called the House bill “mean” last week. Senate Republicans are expected to ease some of its cuts to Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, and make other changes.

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