#WheresTheBill: Congress on goose chase to find secret GOP health bill

"Sen. Paul told Fox News" Neil Cavuto last month, "I think the replacement plan that we've put forward is now the conservative plan, and the House Freedom Caucus has endorsed it".

Just how far was Paul willing to go in his quixotic legislative transparency quest?

With reporters in tow, Paul headed to the secure location where the bill was being safeguarded, but he was turned away empty-handed.

Sen. Rand Paul, armed with a copy machine, crisscrossed chambers to a Capitol office room in the House guarded by an armed police officer asking to see the bill.

An array of conservative lawmakers, organizations and activists are demanding a swifter and more aggressive remake of the Affordable Care Act than many Republicans are comfortable with, raising questions about whether President Trump and the party are headed toward gridlock as they try to fulfill their promise to repeal the health-care law.

In the wake of growing panic about credible threats from House and Senate conservatives to thwart plans for Obamacare "repeal-plus" legislation, the empire struck back with its own threats.

Gardner told Sengenberger the Republican plan would likely give states more flexibility in the Medicaid dollars they receive and the "rebuilding the individual" health insurance markets, as well as tax credits and health savings accounts.

Paul's plan expands on numerous popular proposals put forward by Republicans over several decades. For instance, during the 2016 campaign former Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) slammed Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) for including a refundable tax credit in his plan, lobbing claims similar to what conservatives are wielding now against that sort of proposal.

The bill's confidential location immediately sparked intense interest for Democratic and Republican lawmakers who haven't been privy to the plan - so much so that a few even mounted a methodical search to see if they could uncover a few details. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky. One part of the legislation, handled by the Energy and Commerce Committee, has been made available to members of that panel - but only for inspection behind closed doors. The strategy in Congress right now to build Republican consensus is to ... admit that there isn't Republican consensus and then to have the leadership slap a bill on the table and dare dissenters to vote against it.

"The only copy we've seen is from the media", Paul said Thursday morning.

The secrecy isn't without precedent: The draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the multilateral trade deal negotiated under the Obama administration, was also kept under similar security. They say its tax credits are too similar to Obamacare's subsidies, which are also refundable tax credits but are based on an individual's income and the cost of coverage in their area. He said leaders showed clips of Trump's congressional address on Tuesday, when he embraced key principles of the GOP plan. "But the fact is we can only pass one bill and that's why it's so important that we be aligned with the House and the White House".

  • Audrey Hill