While all eyes are on Comey right now, the ever oily ophidian Mitch McConnell is busy making sure that millions upon millions of American citizens will be thoroughly deprived of healthcare. This is the perfect time for sly and sleazy tricks, with all the scandals breaking like so many rotten eggs; and it is summertime, with all its enticing distractions, offering respite from the constant anxieties of American life. It would be so much easier, and nicer, to go off on my new bicycle for a rideabout, than to report on yet more of the machinations of the regime.
Senate Speaker Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he is striving to get a vote on the Republican health care bill by July 4, before Congress leaves for August recess. As ludicrous as this deadline seems, the Senate could pull it off — but it will be done without much public scrutiny.
Sen. McConnell implemented Senate “Rule 14” Wednesday to fast-track the GOP House health bill. This rule allows the Senate to skip the committee process (goodbye full senate committee debate) and instead “fast-tracks” the bill by moving it on the senate calendar so it can be brought to a vote.
Republicans need to pass a health care bill immediately. And they need to pass a bill that reconciles the needs of both the House and Senate, by September 30th in order to use reconciliation. Reconciliation is a 1974 act that expedites the senate’s consideration of bills that pertain to the budget. While Washington watches James Comey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senate Republicans leaders and the health care working group will still be meeting for a working luncheon to continue negotiations.
During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the Health and Human Services 2018 budget request on Thursday, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) vocalized her frustration with the senate leader invoking rule 14. She asked the chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), if there is going to be a public hearing on the Senate’s secret health bill. A befuddled Hatch said he did not know. “But we have no idea what’s being proposed,” McCaskill exclaimed.
McCaskill makes a valid point. Georgetown University congressional expert Josh Huder says what’s truly remarkable is the Senate will replicate what the House did: push this bill forward with little transparency.
It’s not transparent, but it’s a good way to get health care legislation passed. The Senate is using reconciliation to get this done, which prevents a Democrat filibuster. “This bill will not get 60 votes anywhere. If you want to the bill to pass, this is the only way to do it,” said Huder.