Senate Republicans have come under fire from Democrats and even some in their own party for crafting their Obamacare replacement plan in secret, without public hearings to debate the legislation they have promised to voters for years.
But not long ago, leaders in the Republican Party skewered President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress for writing the Affordable Care Act “behind closed doors” and in “smoke-filled rooms,” as Vice President Mike Pence, at the time a lawmaker from Indiana, put it.
Senators wound up spending 25 days on floor debate over the law, which passed in 2010, in addition to committee discussions. Senate Republicans have not yet released the text of their replacement bill, although they have said they hope to vote on it next week.
Here are 11 times Republicans complained about a lack of transparency in the 2009-10 process of crafting and passing Obamacare.
1. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, then the minority leader, in a press gaggle, Dec. 18, 2009: “This massive piece of legislation that seeks to restructure one-sixth of our economy is being written behind closed doors without input from anyone in an effort to jam it past not just the Senate but the American people before Christmas.”
2. Pence to The Washington Times, Oct. 19, 2009: “They’ve gone from regular order to smoke-filled rooms, so there’s no real way of knowing when [the final bills] are going to emerge.”
3. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) at a committee markup, June 17, 2009: “The fundamental flaws in this bill are the direct consequence of how the bill was put together. The bill was drafted exclusively by Democratic staff, who excluded Republicans from the process of preparing the actual legislation.”
4. House Speaker Paul Ryan, then a House member from Wisconsin, to MSNBC, July 29, 2009: “I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read and we don’t know what they cost. You rush this thing through before anyone knows what it is, that’s not good democracy, that’s not doing work for our constituents.”
5. Sen. Lindsey Graham in a floor speech, Dec. 19, 2009: “Here’s what they did to get that one vote: They had a deal cooked up that no one knew about but the two people talkin’. There was no input from anybody other than the majority leader and the senator from Nebraska. And after that meeting was over, they come up with a 380-page amendment to a 2000-page bill, they file it yesterday, we hear about it for the first time yesterday. … And this is a transparent new way of doing business? You cook up a deal in a backroom that is essentially sleazy in my view to allow one state to be held harmless for Medicare enrollees to get that vote.”
6. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) statement, Dec. 19, 2009: “After weeks of back-room dealing and clandestine negotiations behind closed doors of the Capitol, the Reid amendment is a classic grab bag of special deals to buy votes at the expense of American taxpayers.”
7. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to The New York Times, Dec. 21, 2009: “It’s obvious why the majority has cooked up this amendment in secret, has introduced it in the middle of a snowstorm, has scheduled the Senate to come in session at midnight, has scheduled a vote for 1 a.m., is insisting that it be passed before Christmas — because they don’t want the American people to know what’s in it.”
8. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), then a House member, on Twitter, Jan. 12, 2010: “After all the backroom deals and secret meetings, only 36% of Americans approve of Pres Obama’s handling of health care.”
9. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on Twitter, Jan. 13, 2010: “House and Senate leadership now meeting behind closed doors. Health care reform must not be finalized in dark …”
10. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Twitter, Jan. 13, 2010: “Join our effort to stop closed door health care negotiations by signing the petition.”
11. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, then a House member from Georgia, on Twitter, Jan. 14, 2010: “With Democrats discussing health care in secret, they’re sacrificing the trust of the American people.”