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Essay On The Secrecy Bill

Daily Video

June 22, 2017

After weeks of secrecy, Senate health care bill to be released to public

    • After spending weeks drafting a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act behind closed doors, Republican leaders in the Senate released the bill to the rest of Congress and the public on Thursday. Because just 13 Republican Senators oversaw the drafting of the bill, even most Senate Republicans had not seen the language before its release.
    • On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that a draft of the bill was similar to the House bill passed in early May, although it would cut Medicaid expansion more slowly but more deeply in the long term.
    • While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he wants to hold a vote before the July 4 recess, multiple GOP Senators have expressed discomfort with the quick timeline and doubt that they will be able to vote yes. McConnell can only afford to lose two GOP votes as no Democrats are expected to support the bill.
    • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was reluctant to support the bill, calling it “Obamacare-lite.” Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin (R-WI) additionally said that a vote next week is too soon. Other possible swing votes could include Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Dean Heller (R-NV). 

  1. Essential question: What impact does the health care debate have on the lives of ordinary Americans?
  2. What potential problems might arise when 13 Republican men write a bill without outside input, and what might they be missing? Who else’s input might be valuable?
  3. What were some of the controversial aspects of the health care bill passed by the House in May?
  4. What happens next in the lawmaking process when the House and the Senate pass two different versions of a bill?

Extension Activity:

The Indivisible Project’s Trumpcare Ten site focuses on the ten Republican Senators in vulnerable seats whose votes might determine the future of the Republican health care bill. Through the website, visitors are encouraged to put pressure on their Senator to vote against the bill can submit amendments. Have students explore the website and determine whether they think it is an effective tool. (Note: this resource was created by a partisan organization. However, it is a good example of grassroots organizing and the efforts citizens can make to influence legislative outcomes.)

  • Tags:

    Affordable Care ActCongressdean hellerhealthcarehouse of representativeslisa murkowskimitch mcconnellObamacarerand paulron johnsonSenateshelley moore capitoSusan Collins

  • Vetoed.Office of the Governor

    Governor Jay Inslee on Thursday night vetoed a bill that would’ve shielded the emails, text message, calendars and other records of legislators from public scrutiny.

    Inslee’s decision came amid widespread public pressure against the legislation, which lawmakers ramrodded through both state houses.

    Now, the bill is slated to go back to the legislature for hearings

    In the past few days, Gov. Inslee's office received thousands of phone calls and emails against the bill. Newspapers across the state printed front page editorials urging Inslee to make the right decision. Members of both the regional and local councils, as well as Attorney General Bob Ferguson, got on the anti-secrecy train.

    Moments before Inslee’s veto, House and State Senate Democrats signed a letter to the governor standing by the bill but regretting the “hurried process” that got it passed.

    "I believe the Legislature’s overwhelming vote on the bill was a good faith attempt to increase disclosure and transparency. Though I expressed concerns about the outline of the bill, I did tell legislators I would let the bill become law if they delivered it with enough votes to override a veto. However, that was before I saw the process which failed to meet public expectations for openness and delivered a bill that fell short," Inslee said in a statement.

    Senate Bill 6617 would hide records, including emails, texts or calendars created by legislators before July 1. Records created after July 1 would have been disclosable, including communication with lobbyists and final disciplinary records. Exceptions include correspondence between legislators and with constituents.

    The bill stems from a lawsuit filed by news organizations in September claiming legislators violated public records law by refusing to turn over emails, schedules and texts. Legislators have maintained that they are exempt from those disclosures.

    In January, a judge ruled partially in favor of those organizations, saying individual legislators are subject to the Public Records Act, but that the administrative office for the Legislature is not.

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