WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) proposed turning over “a new leaf” a day after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put the GOP healthcare bill on hold, but McConnell still is limiting negotiations to his party.
In a floor speech today, Schumer said to Republican lawmakers and President Trump, “Let’s start over.”
“Let’s abandon more tax breaks for the rich, let’s abandon cuts to Medicaid, and discuss what the American people are really concerned about: premiums, deductibles, the costs and quality of healthcare,” he said. “President Obama invited both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to Blair House to discuss healthcare reform in front of the American people early in his first term as president.”
“President Trump, I challenge you to invite us — all 100 of us, Republican and Democrat — to Blair House to discuss a new bipartisan way forward on healthcare in front of all the American people.”
The February 2010 summit on the Affordable Care Act, which ran over six hours, was carried live on C-SPAN. A month later, Congress passed the bill with unified Republican opposition.
Schumer vowed that Democrats “are genuinely interested in finding a place where our two parties can come together on healthcare.”
“We want to bring down premiums too. We want to bring down deductibles too,” he added. “We want to stabilize the marketplace. We want to control the outrageous costs of prescription drugs, another thing the president talked about in his campaign. There is plenty of common ground for us to come together around.”
McConnell said Republicans “will continue working so that we can bring legislation to the floor for debate and, ultimately, a vote.”
“We know that we cannot afford to delay on this issue. We have to get this done for the American people. That’s a sentiment that is widely shared in our conference, and I think I speak for everyone in acknowledging once again that the Obamacare status quo is unacceptable and that it simply cannot continue,” the GOP leader said in floor remarks.
Seven years “after Democrats forced Obamacare on our country,” McConnell said, higher premiums and insurers pulling out of the market “are the painful realities for countless families across the nation.”
“It’s unfortunate that our Democratic colleagues refused to work with us in a serious way to comprehensively address Obamacare’s failures in the seven years since they passed it. I regret that they continue to demonstrate an unserious attitude today,” he added.
McConnell said senators “will have more opportunities to offer their thoughts as we work toward an agreement, and every member will have the ability to engage in a robust debate out here on the Senate floor.”
“But if one thing is clear, it’s this: Obamacare is a direct assault on the middle class, it’s getting worse, and we have to act to finally move beyond its failures.”