Politics

McConnell Defends All-Male Obamacare Working Group: ‘Nobody Is Being Excluded Based Upon Gender’

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended the 13-person health-care working group tasked with rewriting the Obamacare repeal bill Tuesday, saying female members are not being excluded from the process.

Democrats were quick to criticize McConnell for selecting an all-male group to spearhead the health-care reform process. The group consists of Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, John Thune of South Dakota, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Cory Gardner of Colorado, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, John Cornyn of Texas and McConnell.

“It’s just so wrong,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters of the working group Tuesday.

McConnell dismissed the criticisms, arguing women are being included in the discussions.

“The working group that counts is all 52 of us, and we’re having extensive meetings — as I said a few minutes ago —  every day,” he told reporters Tuesday. “We’re having extensive meetings, as I said a few minutes ago, every day — nobody is being excluded based upon gender.”

McConnell said he’s confident moderates and conservatives will be able to craft a bill all members feel comfortable supporting.

“You need to write about what’s actually happening, and we’re having a discussion about the real issues — everybody is at the table, everybody,” he continued. “We just had a meeting for an hour — everybody was at the table. We’ll have another meeting tomorrow — everybody will be at the table. We’ll have another meeting Thursday, and everybody will be at the table.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito was invited to meet with the group to discuss Medicaid reforms, The Hill reports.

The Senate is expected to completely overhaul the repeal-and-replacement legislation passed in the House Thursday.

Cornyn, the majority whip, told reporters lawmakers in the upper chamber don’t want to place an artificial timeline on completing the legislation, as they are more focused on getting it right.

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