UPDATE #2: Via Talking Points Memo:
Rank-and-file Senate Republicans had one thing in common with their Democratic counterparts in the health care debate Tuesday: Most did not know exactly what is going to be in the GOP Obamacare repeal legislation expected to be unveiled Thursday and put up for a vote as soon as next week.
“Nobody really has a finalized health care bill. I don’t think anybody’s seen any kind of final text,” Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the No. 3 in Senate GOP leadership, told reporters Tuesday…
…Asked Tuesday morning if lawmakers would see the text of a bill later this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “I don’t know.”
Asked if she knew who is drafting the bill, Sen. Susan Collins (R-MN) said, “I do not.”
If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is around to hear it…
UPDATE: Local activists who have been in touch with Sen. Cory Gardner’s office recently, Tweeting since we posted this blog, would seem to confirm that Gardner is not in the loop for the latest iteration of the GOP’s Obamacare repeal effort despite allegedly being a member of the working group:
Some of Cory Gardner’s staff have been saying “he’s on the working group for the bill, but he’s neither seen nor worked on the draft.”
— Indivisible FRR (@indivisiblefrr) June 20, 2017
I was told last week that “the only part he’s working on is the Medicaid expansion with 5 other senators”.
— Goose (@CUGoose) June 20, 2017
Seems like a really good question for the next reporter who gets Gardner on the line…
Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, as our readers know, is one of a group of thirteen select Republican U.S. Senators who are allegedly crafting the Senate’s version of legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act behind closed doors–this despite repeated and explicit promises from Sen. Gardner that they would not do so.
All this time, we’ve been operating under the assumption that, as one of the small group of Senators tasked with writing up this new bill to replace the House’s “mean” and dead-on-arrival ACA repeal bill, that Sen. Gardner knew what was in it–and was keeping voters in the dark for political reasons.
But based on new public complaints from Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, another member of the “select group” allegedly authoring this bill, we’re wondering if Gardner has even seen the legislation he’s touting:
“Even though I’ve been a member of this working group assigned to help narrow some of the focus of this, I haven’t seen the bill. It has become increasingly apparent over the past few days that even though we thought we were going to be in charge of writing this bill within this working group, it’s not being written by us. It’s apparently being written by a small handful of staffers for members of the Republican leadership in the Senate. [Pols emphasis] So, if you’re frustrated by the lack of transparency in this process, I share your frustration wholeheartedly.”
Got that? Here we have a U.S. Senator, like Gardner in the small group allegedly working on this bill, who claims he has not seen the bill. Lee says the Senators publicly fronting this effort are not writing the bill at all, but that staffers for Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are the authors. And that presents a very straightforward question: how “in the loop” is Cory Gardner, really? For all of Gardner’s insistence that the bill “he’s” working on will be better than Obamacare, does he even know what’s in it to know if that’s true?
If it turns out that Gardner has been lying about his role in this process, it’s a severe hit on his credibility. And if it’s true that he hasn’t been involved in the drafting, he could be in the highly uncomfortable position of having to sell a bill that fails to meet his own stated benchmarks–like protecting the Medicaid expansion population.
Like we said last week, Gardner is rapidly approaching the moment of truth in terms of his years of factually-dubious demonization of Obamacare against the growing certainty that the GOP’s “replacement” is a disaster that will hurt millions of people.
If Gardner is flying blind like Mike Lee while insisting everything is fine, it’s going to end very badly for him.