WASHINGTON — In retaliation for Senate Republicans crafting their Obamacare repeal without the input of Democrats, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer invoked a measure that slowed down business in the chamber Tuesday.
Schumer initiated from the Senate floor what is known as the “2-hour rule.” By invoking this, Senate committee meetings are prohibited from running beyond 2 p.m.
The move follows the Democrats’ promise to hold the floor of the Senate for as long as possible until Republicans show a draft of the Obamacare repeal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the bill will be made available Thursday.
Schumer declared on the floor Tuesday, “As we’ve made clear to our Republican colleagues, if they continue to insist on ramming through a secret health care bill without any public input or debate, they shouldn’t expect business as usual in the Senate. Before passing a massive bill that will affect the lives of every single American, there ought to be a rigorous and robust debate in committees and a full debate on the floor.”
Democrats say that when Obamacare was debated, they allowed Republicans into crafting meetings, held public hearings and enabled Republicans to add amendments to the final bill.
“The Senate HELP Committee held more than 47 bipartisan hearings, roundtables, and walkthroughs on health insurance reform. They considered nearly 300 amendments during a 13-day markup, one of the longest in Congressional history. They accepted more than 160 Republican amendments during that process,” Schumer’s office argued in a statement.
Republicans, however, argue the Affordable Care Act was actually created exclusively by Democrats pointing to various reports from 2009 describing “closed door” negotiations.
When asked why Democrats were not allowed into crafting sessions for the health care bill, McConnell responded Tuesday, “They made it clear earlier they were not interested in participating in this what so ever. But they made it clear they were not interested in what we were trying to achieve at all,” referencing a statement made by Schumer back in January that no Democrat would be compromising with Republicans about a replacement for Obamacare.
Schumer responded to McConnell telling reporters the majority leader is wrong.
“The bottom line is we sent him umpteen letters that say just the opposite that say we want to make Obamacare better. Sit down with us and figure out how. They insisted on repeal, even though they never had a repeal plan,” Schumer contended.