A Republican legislator told multiple news outlets that he and other members of Congress will gather in a private room on Capitol Hill Thursday to review a secret draft of the party’s Obamacare replacement plan.
The document is being treated a bit like a top-secret surveillance intercept. It is expected to be available to members and staffers on the House and Energy Commerce panel starting Thursday, but only in a dedicated reading room, one Republican lawmaker and a committee aide said. Nobody will be given copies to take with them.
“The draft of it is going to be available tomorrow for those of us on the health subcommittee to start pouring through,” said Representative Chris Collins of New York, a Trump ally and member of the health subcommittee of Energy and Commerce. “Unfortunately for you, we’re making sure it won’t be leaked.”
“We’re not having a hearing or anything,” added Gus Bilirakis of Florida, another panel member. “But there’ll be a place for us to view it, the draft.”
Collins also told Bloomberg that the committee may vote on the bill without receiving a score from the Congressional Budget Office. That is the budget agency tasked with estimating how many people the bill will cover and what it will cost.
“It looks like, unfortunately, based on the delays, we may be marking it up and voting on it before we have a score,” Collins said. The Washington Examiner reported a similar story, although one Politico reporter has also tweeted that the meeting is not happening.
It’s easy to see why secrecy is appealing to Republicans right now. One of their more recent proposals was leaked to Politico and quickly caused intraparty strife, as the Freedom Caucus began to protest tax credits in the individual market.
At the same time, Republicans have spent years berating Democrats for what they describe as a closed-door process of secret meetings to pass the Affordable Care Act. With Republicans reportedly starting the replacement process with a literal closed-door meeting, they now face the possibility of a committee vote for a bill without information on who it would cover and how much it would cost. It sure sounds a lot like, in the infamous words of Nancy Pelosi, passing a bill to see what’s in it.