Posted: 10:49 pm Thursday, June 15th, 2017
By Jamie Dupree
Republican Senators left Washington, D.C. on Thursday in much the same position that they have been in for over a month, saying that they are making progress on a bill to overhaul the Obama health law, but seemingly not ready to unveil the details, or predict when a vote might happen, as Democrats pressed the GOP to reveal the fine print of their Senate bill.
“I don’t know of anyone who has seen a copy of this bill,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), as Democrats did all they could to press Republicans and top members of the Trump Administration for specifics.
“You have not seen it? You haven’t seen it either?” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said at a Senate hearing to HHS Secretary Tom Price.
“My staff has provided some technical assistance to individuals, but I haven’t seen it,” Price said of the Senate bill.
In the hallways of the Senate this week, there continues to be a lot of talk about specifics on health policy that GOP Senators are reviewing, but so far no draft has been released; with the month half gone, some are wondering if that will slip into July.
Reporter asks what's in Senate health bill, saying public doesn't know.
"Well join the crowd. I'm in the same category," says Orrin Hatch.
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) June 15, 2017
Even as they try to work out the details, Republicans say they are not backing off their plan to make major changes.
“The Obamacare status quo is unsustainable and unacceptable,” said Sen. John Thune (R-SD) in a speech on the Senate floor, as he said the House-passed bill was a “good start.”
But that was undermined a bit earlier in the week during a meeting between a group of GOP Senators and President Donald Trump at the White House, as multiple news reports said the President had characterized the House bill as “mean.”
“Do you agree that the house Trumpcare bill is ‘mean?'” asked Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) of Secretary Price.
“Yes or no answer,” Murray said to Price.
“It’s not a yes or no answer,” he replied.
As GOP Senators left yet another health care meeting on Thursday, there were no predictions of an imminent deal – “not there yet” was what Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told reporters, as he wouldn’t speculate on when a bill would emerge.
As I have written for weeks, the clock is ticking on the GOP – the Senate is scheduled to work the next two weeks, then take a week off for July Fourth – Senators would then work three more weeks, and then be off from the end of July until after Labor Day.
Some still wonder if Republicans will pull a rabbit out of their hat, and get something done by the end of the month.
At least in public, they aren’t showing their cards as of yet.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.