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GOP Senators Protest Short Timeline on Healthcare Bill They Haven't Seen

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other top GOPs arrive to speak with reporters at the Capitol on June 20, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Some Republican senators are protesting that Senate GOP leadership’s plan to vote next week on a healthcare bill lawmakers and the public haven’t seen yet is too much of a rush and could undermine their constituents.

“The decision was made to do this through reconciliation. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but that was the decision made. So, you’ve got a bill that had to be crafted by Republicans. From that standpoint, it’s been a very open process within the Republican conference. Somebody’s got to write a bill,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told CNN this morning.

“Now, leadership will write a bill. What I’ve told leadership very clearly is I’m going to need time and my constituents are going to need time to evaluate exactly how this is going to affect them,” he added. “I personally think that holding a vote on this next week would definitely be rushed. I can’t imagine, quite honestly, that I’d have the information to evaluate and justify a yes vote just within a week… I want to fully vet it in the public. I want to make sure that my constituents have enough time to provide input.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who is a member of the working group nominally tasked with crafting the Senate version of the healthcare bill, posted a Facebook video Tuesday explaining to his constituents that he, too, needed to see a bill:

“I’ve had a lot of people ask me, specifically, when the health care bill is going to be released to the public, why it isn’t public,” Lee said. “The short answer to the question is that I haven’t seen it either.”

Even though he’s on the working group, Lee explained, “It’s not being written by us — it’s apparently being written by a small handful of staffers for members of the Republican leadership in the Senate.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that he expects to have a “discussion draft” of the bill on Thursday, “and we will go to the bill, obviously, once we get a CBO score, likely next week.”

“I wouldn’t want to compare it to the House bill. It will speak for itself. It will be different and take a different approach based upon these endless discussions we’ve had with the only people interested in changing the law, which is Republican senators,” McConnell said.

He insisted the American public will “have plenty of time” to look at the bill.

“We’ve been discussing all the elements of this endlessly for seven years. Everybody pretty well understands it. Everybody will have adequate time to take a look at it. I think this will be about as transparent as it can be,” McConnell added. “No transparency would have been added by having hearings in which Democrats offered endless single-payer system amendments. That is not what this Republican Senate was sent here to do.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told MSNBC this morning he hasn’t seen “writing on a piece of paper” regarding the details of the healthcare bill.

“If I don’t get to read it, I don’t vote for it. If I don’t get to study it, I don’t vote for it,” he said.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told reporters on a Tuesday conference call that “if we try to squeeze it in a short period of time we won’t get it right, and we have to get it right.”

Portman said he didn’t think “you will find anyone who knows what is in” the bill.”

“If they have, I’d like to see it,” he added.