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Democrats Plot Senate Slowdown Over Obamacare Repeal

Schumer, Murray among Democrats planning to highlight GOP process

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is warning against recess appointments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is warning against recess appointments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democrats have decided to muddle the chamber’s work in a bid to highlight the closed-door nature of Republicans’ health care negotiations.

When the Democrats take the floor Monday evening for a series of speeches against the GOP’s efforts to roll back the 2010 health care law, they will also begin objecting to a variety of unanimous consent requests that generally govern more routine Senate floor business.

According to a senior Senate Democratic aide, there might be some exceptions for honorary resolutions, but the Democrats seem intent on slowing down the bulk of business.

“Republicans are drafting this bill in secret because they’re ashamed of it, plain and simple,”Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said in a statement. “These are merely the first steps we’re prepared to take in order to shine a light on this shameful Trumpcare bill and reveal to the public the GOP’s true intentions: to give the uber-wealthy a tax break while making middle class Americans pay more for less health care coverage. If Republicans won’t relent and debate their health care bill in the open for the American people to see, then they shouldn’t expect business as usual in the Senate.”

Perhaps in anticipation of the maneuvering led by the New York Democrat, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had already lined up procedural votes by moving to limit debate on a pair of President Donald Trump’s nominees for key positions at the Treasury Department.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ranking Democrat Patty Murray of Washington is expected to lead Monday evening’s Democratic floor speeches, which could extend well into the night.

Democrats are also telegraphing a series of parliamentary inquiries from their chamber desks to the presiding officer that they hope will show a contrast in the legislative process used to advance what became the 2010 health care overhaul law and the current process.

While the final bills that ultimately passed the Senate through both regular order and the budget reconciliation process were revealed late in the game, both the HELP and Finance committees held exhaustive hearings and markups of what became the basis for the laws signed by President Barack Obama.

If Democrats are intent on burning the clock, the nominations of Sigal Mandelker to be under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes and , Marshall Billingslea to be assistant secretary for terrorist financing could consume the balance of the Senate’s week, leaving one session week before the scheduled July Fourth recess.

Before any of that, however, the Senate is scheduled to vote to confirm Brock Long to be the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with hurricane season already under way.

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