Senate Democrats immediately launched a full-scale attack on Thursday against the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare, foreshadowing their aggressive combination of messaging and tactics that will consume the chamber in the coming days.
The minority leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, and nearly 30 of his Democratic colleagues sped to the floor to lambaste the 142-page health care bill that was released less than an hour before by Republicans. They quickly outlined their objections that they had been pushing for weeks: Deep cuts to Medicaid, a lack of protection for pre-existing conditions, tax breaks for the wealthy.
“It’s every bit as bad as the House bill. In some ways, it’s even worse,” Schumer said. “The president said the Senate bill needed heart. The way this bill cuts health care is heartless. The president said the House bill was mean. The Senate bill may be meaner.”
After delivering his remarks, Schumer and his top deputies lined up to make repeated procedural demands to jam up the GOP health care measure.
First, Schumer tried to block consideration of the measure until it had been on a website for 72 hours and the Congressional Budget Office had produced its analysis of the bill. (The CBO is expected to release its estimate early next week). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promptly objected.
Then Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) pushed for a requirement of 60 votes to waive any budget point of orders. That was also denied.
Later, Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the third-ranking Senate Democrat, tried to block the bill until it went through a committee hearing, with both Republicans and Democrats having a chance to offer changes. Again, that was denied.
“None of these senators have read the bill,” complained Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), referring to Democrats. “What they’re talking about is a bill that does not exist, which they have not read."