Republicans tried Monday to deflect criticism of their process for drafting a healthcare bill by taking aim at the way Democrats drafted Obamacare in the first place back in 2009.
"The last time I had a major piece of legislation on healthcare they gave me 30 minutes and it was 3,000 pages," said Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, on Monday.
He added that whatever the Senate comes up with would be "a lot shorter than 3,000 pages."
Democrats have battered Republicans recently for trying to draft a healthcare bill behind closed doors and without Senate hearings. Senate Democrats are speaking throughout Monday night on the Senate floor, demanding hearings on the bill that has yet to emerge from GOP talks. Republicans have used the process by which the Affordable Care Act was originally written to push back.
Reporters asked Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, whether the GOP's process on the healthcare bill was a new template for lawmaking.
"It follows what [then Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid did in November and December of 2009," he said in response.
He was then asked how long he needed to review a healthcare bill before voting.
"I hope they get more time than we had on Christmas Eve when Reid produced his bill," he responded.
Democrats on the Senate floor made the point that the passage of Obamacare was much more transparent, saying Republicans won't allow them to see the bill, let alone amend it.
"From 2009 to 2010, the Senate Finance Committee held more than 53 hearings on health reform," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who was on the panel at the time. "During the finance committee markup when we were working through and voting out the bill, we considered 135 amendments often late into the night."
Stabenow speculated that the Republicans don't want the public or Democrats to see the bill "because it is a disaster for the American people."
The Senate passed the Affordable Care Act by a 60 to 39 vote on Christmas Eve 2009. Reid proposed only about six days for a debate on the bill.
Republicans blasted Democrats at the time for drafting the bill behind closed doors and giving them little time to digest it before voting.