About 20 Senate Democrats launched a series of delaying tactics on the floor Thursday to protest the Republican health-care bill.
As soon as the chamber opened for business, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats made procedural requests that GOP leaders hold hearings on the legislation and allow substantial time for debate. Democrats do not have the power to stop a vote on the bill, and their delaying tactics will have little impact on plans to hold a vote next week. But Republican leaders will have to personally object to each procedural request, taking up their time.
The delay effort is part of Democrats’ broader plan to force Republicans to respond to complaints that they are rushing the legislation without hearings or proper time for debate.
“Will we have more time than 10 hours to debate the bill? I hope so,” Schumer said to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on the floor. “But if not, don’t call this an open and fair process. If you want to rush it through, admit the consequences.”
In a speech just before Schumer’s remarks, McConnell said there would be “ample time” for a “robust debate” on the bill before a vote. He promised an open amendment process and encouraged “all 100 senators” to take advantage of it.
“When legislation does come to the floor, it will present Senate Democrats with another opportunity to do what’s right by the American people,” McConnell said.