VIDEO: Murray Demands Hearings on Trumpcare Bill: GOP Chairman Refuses, Defends Keeping it Secret from Democrats and People Across Country
Murray reminds Republicans: Health Committee held dozens of open bipartisan hearings and meetings before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law
GOP Chairman refuses request for a hearing on the secret bill, asks Senator Murray and other Democrats to focus on the hearing he has permitted
Murray: Republicans “dead-set on jamming their version of Trumpcare through the Senate in a matter of days” with “no hearings…no public debate…no information for people across the county”
GOP Chairman Alexander on hearings: “none planned....”
Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate Health Committee, asked Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) at a Committee hearing if he would agree to hold a hearing on the Trumpcare bill that Republicans are writing in secret and planning to jam through the Senate without any scrutiny or public input. The Trumpcare bill that Republicans are working on behind closed doors would increase costs and cut off care for millions of families across the country.
Full transcript of Senator Murray’s demand for a Trumpcare hearing and Chairman Alexander’s response
Senator Murray: Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. And before I ask the witnesses any questions I wanted, since you’re going to be leaving, to ask you a question. And I really do appreciate you having this hearing, prescription drug prices is extremely important, appreciate this and it’s an important topic, I will have questions. But you haven’t yet scheduled a hearing on the Republican Trumpcare bill. I know you’re a part of the discussion. You know what’s in it, we have no idea. We haven’t seen it. The people we represent don’t have any idea. Senator McCaskill raised this at a hearing, powerfully, last week and I want to raise it here too. Do you intend to have any hearings before the bill comes to the floor?
Chairman Alexander: I have none planned Senator Murray but let me respond to that in two ways. One is, that bill, if you’re referring to the House bill, would be referred to the Finance committee, not this committee. So you might take it up with Chairman Hatch. Number two, I had a hearing, late January, early February. We had terrific witnesses. My hope was to focus on the individual market and changes that we might agree on in a bipartisan way, and most Senators came to the meeting and made their Obamacare speeches that they’ve making for the last seven years. And I would summarize it by saying that the witnesses did very well at the hearing and the Senators did very poorly. So if were not able to focus in a bipartisan way when we have a bipartisan hearing, I don’t think there’s much promise for a bipartisan result. Which leads me to my third point, which is that this is a hearing that you asked for, that other Democrats asked for, that Senator Cassidy and Republicans asked for. We agreed on who the witnesses should be. We have exceptional witnesses today, it’s a chance to address drug pricing which is important to every American family, and I would think that this committee is a group of grown up adults who are able to do more than one thing at a time. And we could discuss Obamacare if you would like but today we’re trying to discuss drug pricing which is up to 15%...
Senator Murray: Well Mr. Chair, I need to reclaim my time…
Chairman Alexander: Well you brought up the issue.
Senator Murray: I did ask you a question.
Chairman Alexander: You asked me the question about Obamacare which is not the subject of today’s hearing…
Senator Murray: I agree…
Chairman Alexander: And if that’s the way you want to spend your time, fine, but I don’t know why I should call hearings requested by the Democrats, with bipartisan hearings, when you won’t focus on the hearing.
Senator Murray: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that you’re having this hearing, but I also would very much appreciate that we have a hearing on a bill that we are going to see that our folks have not seen, people across the country haven’t seen. When we passed the ACA we had 57 bipartisan HELP committee hearings and meetings and roundtables. So I will just say that is disconcerting…
Chairman Alexander: You passed the ACA in the middle of a snowstorm with 60 votes and crammed it down the throats of Republicans and if you want to talk about that we can but today we’re talking about drug pricing.
Senator Murray: We are talking about drug pricing. It’s an important part of the health care program but I think people in the country are deeply worried about what is happening to the health care system.
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