Top Democrats slammed Senate Republicans’ Obamacare replacement draft bill almost immediately after the 142-page plan was posted online.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., warned that the plan would mean higher costs for consumers and lead to more people going uninsured. He also bashed his GOP colleagues for keeping the bill tightly held and contended it is “every bit as bad” as the highly criticized House plan.
“The Senate Republican health-care bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Only this wolf has sharper teeth than the House bill,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
It is not clear how much of the bill Schumer read before making those statements. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., immediately responded to Schumer, saying he “has not seen a copy” of the bill. Schumer then said he was referring to the draft plan posted online minutes before he spoke.
The Senate unveiled its plan after a closely held drafting process that was criticized by Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike. Many GOP senators said they had not seen the text of the draft bill before its release.
Senators aim to vote on the bill before the Fourth of July recess. However, it is unclear if the GOP can muster enough votes before then.
Before Schumer spoke, McConnell defended the secretive process of drafting the legislation. He said that “there will be ample time” to analyze and discuss it before it reaches the floor. That is expected to happen next week.
McConnell said the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is not expected to release a report on its effects until next week. After the CBO score comes out, a “robust debate and amendment process” will proceed, McConnell said.
“It’s time to act,” McConnell said. “Because Obamacare is a direct attack on the middle class.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was briefed on the plan and understands that it “tracks in many ways” with the House bill. He did not comment on the criticisms of the Senate’s process, saying he did not want to be “disrespectful.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price welcomed the Senate bill, saying it would “provide Americans with much needed relief from Obamacare.”
Opposition to the House version appears to be growing. Americans consider the House Republican health-care bill to be a bad idea by a 3-to-1 margin, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
A source told NBC News that at least three Republican senators, enough to block passage, are expected to announce their opposition to the newly unveiled plan. It was not immediately clear who those senators are.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren called the proposal a “monstrosity of a bill that Republicans have been hiding behind closed doors for weeks.” She lambasted her GOP colleagues for spending that time “dreaming up even meaner ways to kick dirt in the face of American people and take away their health insurance.”
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., called on her colleagues to vote down the GOP bill, saying that they should be trying “to help, not hurt the people” they represent.
@KamalaHarris: All of us in Congress should be trying to help, not hurt, the people we represent. We owe it to them to vote down the GOP #HealthcareBill.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted that it is “absurd” to call the Senate proposal a health care bill. She asserted that the GOP plan is “nothing more than a massive tax cut for the rich on the backs of working families.”
@NancyPelosi: Calling #Trumpcare a #HealthcareBill is absurd. It’s nothing more than a massive tax cut for the rich on the backs of working families.
Sen. Bernie Sanders echoed Pelosi’s sentiment, saying the bill “has nothing to do with health care” and alleged “it’s an enormous transfer of wealth from working people to the richest Americans.”
@BernieSanders: Republicans’ bill has nothing to do with health care. It’s an enormous transfer of wealth from working people to the richest Americans.
Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., asserted that Republican senators took a bill that President Donald Trump “admitted was ‘mean’ and managed to make it even more heartless.”