House Democrat Joseph Crowley of New York knew his proposed amendment to the Obamacare replacement plan would get some laughs — and maybe an eye roll or two.
It was the same amendment Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, now the Republican chair of the Ways and Means Committee, had proposed to the Affordable Care Act in 2009: that every member of the House voting on the health care bill issue an official statement indicating he or she had read the legislation in its entirety.
So Crowley didn’t write an amendment to the replacement plan. Instead, on Wednesday, his staff handed out an amendment to members of the committee that had Brady’s name crossed out and Crowley’s penciled in.
There was another copy of the “new” amendment present in the committee meeting as well — printed on a large poster board that was passed down the dais to Brady himself. The Republicans handily struck down the amendment on a point of order, led by Ohio Rep. Pat Tiberi.
“A point of order on the amendment, not because of the rich irony my friend talked about —” Tiberi began.
“Oh, it’s very rich, thank you very much,” Crowley said to laughter. “I read this bill, by the way.”
Tiberi responded: “I remember that day — and at 11:57 pm when the Democrats finally released their 794-page amendment right before the 9 am markup to that over 1,000-page bill, which later became a 2,000-page bill, without an ounce of a score.”
The Crowley amendment was one of several trolls, in the form of amendments, that House Democrats have been throwing at their Republican colleagues as two committees — Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce — begin debates on the American Health Care Act, the Republican Obamacare replacement plan made public Monday night.
Earlier on Wednesday, Oregon Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer proposed the “Trump Promise Test,” an amendment that would require the bill to guarantee “health insurance coverage for all taxpayers and their dependents” — a direct reference to President Donald Trump’s pledge to the American people that his Obamacare replacement would insure everyone.
It’s all part House Democrats’ larger strategy to stall the bill process.
In both committees, proposals were made to delay the markups until a Congressional Budget Office review and score is complete. Both attempts failed. So to buy time, Democrats have gone on long tirades about Trump’s taxes, requested a clerk read the health care bill in its entirety, and listed the president’s possible conflict of interests one by one. The Democrats reportedly have upward of 100 amendments to propose.
(To be fair, most of Democrats’ questions in the Ways and Means Committee could not be answered by the expert witness from the Joint Committee on Taxation, Thomas Barthold, without the CBO score.)
So far, Republican representatives have squashed every one of the Democrats’ amendments and are adamant about moving forward without complete information.