NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), during a Senate Finance Committee hearing this week, called on Senate Republicans to lift the veil of secrecy and shed light for the American people on their clandestine healthcare reform debate. Sen. Menendez urged Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to open the process up to the public and allow Democrats eager to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to participate.
“We’ve been at the healthcare debate,” said Sen. Menendez. “We’re ready to deal with more in order to improve it. But we are willing to do so in the way that we created the law, which is open, and public and with debate and input. So, whether you are for or against, at least the American people knew what they are getting.”
When Chairman Hatch jokingly welcomed Democrats to the healthcare debate, and disparaged their call for more hearings, Sen. Menendez was compelled to speak. He reminded the Committee of the open and bipartisan process it undertook during consideration of the ACA, including an attempt by then-Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to work with Republican members on a bipartisan basis throughout the summer of 2009. Ultimately, the Senate Finance Committee held a seven-day open markup session of the bill that would later become the ACA in September and October of 2009 in which amendments by senators from both parties were considered and 11 offered by Republicans were adopted.
After House Republicans passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) assembled a 13-member, Republican-only panel that has since been working in secret on a Senate healthcare reform bill. Sen. McConnell has since indicated that the bill will come directly to the Senate floor, bypassing the typical legislative and public hearing process, if there should be a vote.
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