GOP Senator Criticizes Secretive Healthcare Talks

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has revealed the GOP's secretive approach to reaching a compromise on the Senate health care bill.

Speaking to Vox on June 22 prior to the bill's release, the Alaska senator said she remained in the dark about its contents.

"I am not a reporter, and I am not a lobbyist, so I've seen nothing," Murkowski told Vox.

Murkowski was reportedly one of the Republican senators intimately involved in negotiations to hammer out an agreement between the different views in the party.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona also expressed frustration with the process, adding that he would have adopted a different tactic.

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"We would be having debate on the floor, we would be having amendments, we would be having discussion," McCain added.

The Senate bill follows the passage of the American Health Care Act by the House on May 4. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the AHCA would leave 23 million additional Americans uninsured over the next decade, BBC reports.

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The GOP's approach also came in for criticism from Democrats. 

Usually, the Senate will circulate draft bills for discussion and arrange public hearings to collect expert opinions.

Public hearings have not been held on the contents of the Senate's health care bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has indicated he hopes to pass the legislation by June 30, prompting critics to suggest Republicans will ram the bill through without debate.

To illustrate their criticism, three Democratic senators filmed their failed efforts on June 20 to obtain a copy of the legislation from the Congressional Budget Office.

"Republicans are drafting this bill in secret because they're ashamed of it, plain and simple," stated Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. 

Schumer said on June 19 that Democrats would attempt to make use of procedural measures to slow the process down.

But some Democratic activists are calling for more.

"So far we haven't seen a response from Democrats that is proportional to the sense of urgency people who stand to lose healthcare are feeling," Murshed Zaheed of Credo Action, a group that organizes for progressive change, told The Guardian. "If they don't play hardball, we're going to increase the pressure on them to do so."

An attempt to hold a rushed vote could also meet with GOP opposition.

"If it is an effort to rush it from a small group of people, straight to the floor in an up or down vote, that would be a problem," Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said June 18 in an interview with CNN, BBC reports.

Sources: Vox, BBC, The Guardian / Photo credit: Jay Elhard via Denali National Park and Preserve/Flickr, Gage Skidmore/Flickr, EMW/Wikimedia Commons

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