Congressional Democrats claim their Republican colleagues are blocking them out of talks about how to proceed with the House-passed healthcare reform bill through reconciliation, a legislative process that allows passage of a budget bill and prevents it being filibustered in the Senate.
"To accomplish this 'Robin Hood in reverse' approach without bipartisan support, Republicans are using an arcane process known as reconciliation. That's not a term that's likely to come up at coffee shops around the country, but it's important," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in the party's weekly address. "Reconciliation amounts to 'my-way-or-the-highway,' not both parties working together to solve the nation's problem as Americans expect them to."
Wyden complained the current version of the bill, which would repeal and replace Obamacare, was "deeply unpopular" in the House, partially because it contains the "basic architecture that takes from middle-class Americans to give large tax breaks to the well-to-do."
Other Democrats have taken issue with Republicans for not holding a hearing on the Senate version of the American Health Care Act. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., called out Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, when he said Democrats were welcome to offer ideas and suggestions for the legislation. "When you are saying that you inviting us, for what? We don't even know. We have no idea what is being proposed," McCaskill replied.
Republicans are looking to use a procedural tactic to fast-track the healthcare legislation through the Senate, which would allow the GOP to continue closed-door meetings to hash out the details that they can agree on to obtain to 51 votes needed to pass it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., indicated this week that a vote on the healthcare legislation would happen "in the near future." Republican senators have been meeting to discuss the legislation, and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters that he expects a vote on the healthcare legislation by the end of July.
Wyden railed over the bill's Medicaid restructuring plan, which includes language to cut spending on the government program by more than $800 billion.
"Bottom line, without Medicaid, America moves a giant step backwards to the days when healthcare was reserved for the healthy and the wealthy," Wyden added.