GOP plans sham hearing on repeal bill in committee that has nothing to do with health care


What's worse — having no hearing for looming health care legislation, or having fraudulent hearings to provide cover for "undecided" Republicans?

What connection does the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have with pending health care legislation that Republicans are trying to ram through Congress?

Absolutely none.

But that’s not stopping the GOP from setting up what appears to be a sham hearing scheduled for next week to debate a pending health care bill. Even though Homeland Security Committee has no jurisdiction over the issue. And even though the committee hasn’t held any hearings on FEMA or disaster relief, despite the fact that those critical issues are at the forefront of the committee’s key responsibilities.

The Homeland Security Committee is chaired by Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson, who’s co-sponsoring the latest GOP attempt to dismantle Obamacare, via the so-called Cassidy-Graham bill.

The move represents just latest attempt in the Republican Party’s zombie-like attempt to kill off Obamacare, and to do it in ways that are completely unprecedented for the U.S. Senate.

Specifically, is the dubious hearing simply an effort to give political cover to senators like John McCain, who in July voted against the Republican Party’s repeal effort, the so-called “skinny repeal,” because he said the Senate did not adhere to regular order? Is Johnson holding the hearing simply so the GOP can claim it’s somehow transparent?

McCain, who sits on the committee, has again suggested he’d prefer that any new repeal attempt should go through the regular committee process, even as he has given every indication that he will vote for this latest version.

But this definitely doesn’t sound like regular order:

McCain has been blamed, by Donald Trump and other conservatives, for casting the decisive "no" vote on the bill that failed in July, and his fellow Republicans seem eager to ensure that this time, he votes with them.

One senior Democratic aide in the Senate describes the hearing this way to Shareblue Media: “It's a B.S. way to look like they're holding a hearing, but it's meaningless. It's not a markup where members from both parties can offer amendments.”

Meanwhile, 16 patient and provider groups came out forcefully against the bill on Monday. “This legislation fails to provide Americans with what they need to maintain their health,” they announced.

Yet once again, Republicans are trying to normalize their truly radical ways to hide information about possibly transformative legislation.

“The GOP’s secretive process marks a sharp departure from the traditional way the Senate has developed large, complex bills, which are often debated for years with multiple committee hearings to ensure broad input and careful analysis,” the Los Angeles Times reported in June, noting that the hide-the-bill strategy at the time appeared to be a “deliberate” attempt to keep consumers in the dark.

It also appeared to be a premeditated attempt to minimize criticism of the bill. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) even conceded that holding public hearings about the legislation would only give Democrats more opportunity to attack the bill.

“We have zero cooperation from the Democrats,” he said. “So getting it in public gives them a chance to get up and scream.”

Apparently, now meaningful hearings are only scheduled if the other side agrees with Republicans.