GOP Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was unsuccessful in his quest to track down the House Obamacare repeal bill and make the content public Thursday afternoon.
Equipped with a copy machine, Paul trekked to the House side of the Capitol to Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ office, where the bill was allegedly being kept, only to be told there was no legislation at that location.
“Tax credits is the same as a subsidy it just has a different name. And then also individual mandates but you don’t pay the penalty to the government, you pay the penalty to the insurance companies,” he told reporters. “It’s all unacceptable, but what’s really unacceptable is not being able to read the bill.”
Paul argued transparency should be a critical component in constructing the legislation, especially in the wake of how Democrats crafted the Affordable Care Act.
Paul’s grievances over the process were echoed by a number of House Democrats, including Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Reps. Paul Tonko, Jan Schakowsky and Frank Pallone, who proceeded to go hunt for the bill.
“I know, Mr. Lincoln, that you are as upset with your party as I am,” Hoyer said to a statue of President Abraham Lincoln.
The lawmakers checked House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s Office, the basement of the Capitol, the Ways and Means Conference room and the House Committee of Energy and Commerce office, but their search proved fruitless.
GOP lawmakers on the House Committee on Ways and Means and House Committee on Energy and Commerce said they are still waiting on scores from the Congressional Budget Office and will continue to work on the bill over the course of the weekend. They hope to start markups on the measure next week, which will be open to the public.
While efforts to track down the the draft legislation continue, Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden said the bill is still being worked on, which is why it hasn’t been released.
“Here’s the misconception, we have a draft staff product, we wanted members to be able to see it and there’s much more to do to this,” he told reporters prior to the search. “We don’t have the bill written yet.”
Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said he and Walden discussed specifics of the bill with GOP lawmakers in the upper chamber Wednesday.
“Clearly every senator in that room knows exactly the direction we’re going as well as some of the improvements we have yet to make, we’re working on them,” he told reporters.
Brady assured the process will be open and transparent as soon the legislation is complete.
“We don’t have a bill, we’ll continue to work with CBO and our members on the final policy decisions,” he said. “When we do that, when we finalize that, we will announce a markup, post that bill publicly and follow the rules of the House, which are very transparent to a T.”
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