What's To Hide? House GOP Panel Viewing Obamacare Repeal Bill In Secret

Tom Williams

Republicans on a House committee with jurisdiction over the Obamacare repeal legislation will be viewing the current version of the bill in secret in a basement room of a office building adjoining the Capitol Thursday, the Washington Examiner, Bloomberg and other outlets reported. GOP members and staff of the Energy and Commerce Committee will only be able to look at the legislation and will be prohibited from making copies, Bloomberg reported.

The opaque process comes after a leak of a draft version of the legislation last week sent the House Republican conference into disarray over disagreements about the draft provisions. Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Greg Walden (R-OR) (pictured) told Politico that members were viewing an "initial staff draft," but declined to go into any more detail about the next steps.

It's unclear when the public -- or even Democrats on the committee -- will get a chance to see the legislation. There are reports that committee mark-ups on the legislation may begin next week, though Walden stayed vague when asked by reporters Wednesday evening the timeline for a mark up.

Additionally, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), an Energy and Commerce member, told the Hill that the committee will likely vote on the legislation before the Congressional Budget Office finished scoring it, meaning questions about the bill's cost and how many people would be covered under it would still be unanswered.

In the months since President Donald Trump won the election and Republicans embraced moving forward on repealing the Affordable Care Act, GOP lawmakers promised a transparent process while bashing Democrats for putting the law together supposedly "behind the closed doors." (The ACA was passed after more than a year of legislative maneuvering including dozens of public hearings).

Republicans have also been quick to bash Democrats for an infamous comment that then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made that lawmakers had to "to pass the bill" for the public to "find out what's in it."

“But we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it ...”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.
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