By Jessie Hellmann & Peter Sullivan, The Hill–
Two House committees began work Wednesday on the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal-and-replace legislation amid a partisan clash over the Republican push.
In the Ways and Means Committee, Democrats have offered a range of amendments rejected by the GOP, highlighting issues like the possibility of people losing coverage or the lack of a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the measure.
In the Energy and Commerce committee, Democrats dragged the process out Wednesday by requiring the entire bill to be read aloud. There is a possibility the markup could spill into future days.
Committees are voting without a CBO score, which likely won’t come until next week. That score will give lawmakers an idea of what the bill will cost and how many people will lose coverage if it becomes law.
“You’re fearful the CBO will provide answers to questions that you don’t like,” Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) asserted to Republicans on the Ways and Means panel.
Democrats are expected to offer up a slew of amendments to the bills and drag the hearings into the evening.
“It’s going to last for a long time. Well into the evening hours and perhaps later,” said Rep. Richard Neal (Mass.), the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee.
Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) opened his committee’s markup with a call for “decisive action.”
“As President Trump said in his address to Congress last week, ‘ObamaCare is collapsing,’ and ‘decisive action must be taken to protect all Americans,'” Brady said.
“This morning, we will answer President Trump’s call to action, and we will send a clear message to all who are hurting because of this law,” he added.
“If you have nothing to hide, a week will not impair your effort,” he said.
Republicans on the Ways and Means committee also pushed aside a Democratic amendment aimed at highlighting the “Trump promise” that everyone would have health insurance under a GOP plan.
The amendment from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) would have prevented the GOP ObamaCare replacement bill from taking effect until the CBO ensured that the bill provided health insurance for “all taxpayers and their dependents.”
The amendment was an attempt to draw attention to Trump’s comment in January to The Washington Post that a GOP plan should provide “insurance for everybody.”
Republicans acknowledge that their bill will cover fewer people than ObamaCare, but say that it is not trying to compete with the health law, which uses a mandate to require coverage.
GOP lawmakers sidelined the amendment on parliamentary grounds, saying that it was not “germane.” Blumenauer said lawmakers should “give the American people the ‘Trump guarantee.'”
Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee, meanwhile, tabled a motion from Democrats to postpone their markup for 30 days.
Ranking member Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.Y.) argued the markup shouldn’t occur without an analysis of the legislation from the Congressional Budget Office.
Pallone also said Democrats had about 100 amendments to the bill, which have not been filed yet.