Democrats Hold Senate Floor To Protest GOP Health Care Efforts

Democrats used procedural means to protest GOP efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Posted at 10:34 PM, Jun 19, 2017

Democrats took over the Senate floor Monday evening to protest the Republicans' bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

"We will use the procedural means we have, small as they might be," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are using a special rule to fast-track consideration of the bill. It means the bill likely won't go to committee or get any hearings.

And that's one of the Democrats' main concerns. They maintained the floor by making parliamentary inquiries regarding the passage of the Affordable Care Act and asking unanimous consent that the bill be considered by a committee first.

"I ask unanimous consent that calendar number 120, H.R. 1628 be referred to the Committee on Finance for the purpose of conducting a public hearing," Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz said.

"Is there objection?" Sen. Joni Ernst, who was presiding over the Senate at the time, asked.

"I object," McConnell said.

The inquiries ranged from how many days the Senate considered the legislation to how many days the text of the legislation was on respective committees' websites before the committees considered it.

Democrats' reasoning for the inquiries was to point out that, while partisan, the Affordable Care Act did have hearings and Republican amendments. And by asking for unanimous consent, they'd have McConnell on record objecting to giving the bill a hearing.

"A lot of this frustration right now is building because of the brokenness of this process. A process that is right now about secrecy. A process that has been conducted behind closed doors," Sen. Cory Booker said.

So why fast-track the bill? Republicans are running out of time. The Senate is on recess for the entirety of August, and they only have until the end of September to pass a bill with a simple majority of votes.

That doesn't give them much time to pass their bill and then reconcile it with the House's bill.

Senate Republicans are expected to hold a vote on the bill by the end of this month. But by all accounts, it seems the bill hasn't yet been completed.

"Will it be available to us and the public more than 10 hours before we have to vote for it?" Schumer asked McConnell.

"I think we'll have ample opportunity to read and amend the bill," McConnell replied.

"Will it be more than 10 hours?" Schumer asked.

"I think we'll have ample opportunity to read and amend the bill," McConnell said.