Three of the senate’s most conservative members are criticizing the ongoing process to reform Obamacare, suggesting that the legislation will likely stall without transparency and strong conservative input.
The biggest contention held by the trio of conservative lawmakers, Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Rand Paul (Ky.), is the Senate healthcare working group’s decision to draft the legislation behind closed doors.
Lee in a message to supporters said that his legislative office has been bombarded by calls from constituents wondering why the bill isn’t public if lawmakers are scheduled to vote on it as early as next week.
The lawmaker said, despite being included in aspects of the bill’s creation, he’s just as frustrated by the lack of transparency as anyone.
“Even though I’ve been a member of the working group assigned to narrow some of the focus of this, I haven’t seen the bill,” Lee revealed. “It has become increasingly apparent over the past few days that even though we thought we were going to be in charge of writing this bill within this working group, it’s not being written by us.”
Instead, the lawmaker said, the legislation is being put together by the staffers of the Senate’s GOP establishment leaders.
The decision to work through the healthcare bill without committee hearings has drawn heavy criticism from Democrats, who argue that lawmakers are attempting to produce the bill in secret before forcing a vote to minimize public scrutiny. It’s a criticism Paul said he shares last week. Though, unlike Democrats, his concern is that Republicans are attempting to change the repeal/replace effort to please the most moderate Republicans rather than provide the full replacement lawmakers on the right promised conservative voters for years.
Paul believes the bill currently being drafted includes new entitlement programs, which he says will be a deal breaker for his support.
“I’m not saying how I’m voting ‘til I see what’s in the bill. I still think there’s a chance that if we don’t get 50 votes, we renegotiate what’s in the bill completely. I think we could start over,” he said.
Cruz, meanwhile, told reporters that his biggest concern with the Obamacare reform package is the development of a plan that would reduce healthcare premiums.
“In particular, we need [to do] a substantially better job of driving down the cost of premiums. That remains my number one priority,” he said.
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