Wyden, Merkley, Blumenauer, Bonamici blast secretive Obamacare replacement bill

Wyden, Merkley, Blumenauer, Bonamici blast secretive Obamacare replacement bill


By:  Gordon R. Friedman

Four Congressional Democrats from Oregon blasted Republican senators Tuesday for their vote on a secretive bill to advance a repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.

Earlier in the day, Republicans in the U.S. Senate narrowly approved a procedural move to go forward with a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, bringing Congress one step closer to fulfilling a central campaign promise of President Trump.

The vote to move the repeal and replace plan forward passed by one vote, despite its details being kept tightly under wraps by GOP leaders. All Democrats and three Republicans voted against the plan, making the vote 50-50 and forcing Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote.

The vote drew rebukes from Oregon's Democratic U.S. senators and two of its Democratic members of Congress.

"Senate Republicans have voted to proceed to a bill sight unseen – the only guarantees for the American people are higher costs, worse health care, and tax breaks for special interests," U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden said in prepared remarks. "Democrats in the Senate will be holding our colleagues accountable at every step of this rushed and secretive partisan effort to take Americans' health care away."

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley criticized Republicans' move as "reckless" and one that will destabilize already shaky health care markets.

"No one knows what will be in this final health care bill, but to date every Republican health care plan has had one major thing in common," Merkley said in a statement. "They all would rip health care away from more than 20 million Americans. That's unacceptable and indefensible."

Following the vote, U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici, both Democrats representing the Portland area, took to Twitter to criticize Republicans.

"The GOP's insistence of putting party over country (& in this case people's LIVES) never ceases to amaze me. Disgraceful," Blumenauer said. In another tweet, he said, "Truly disgusted & perplexed that most of the GOP wants their legacy to be taking away health care from 22 million Americans... #KillTheBill!"

"Disappointed @SenateGOP proceeded to debate health care repeal. Taking away coverage from millions is cruel. #ProtectOurCare," Bonamici said.

A full vote on the repeal and replace plan could follow Tuesday's vote, but the schedule is uncertain.