Schumer Floor Remarks: A “Third Prong” Will Not Make TrumpCare Better and Will Not Happen

March 21, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today delivered remarks on the Senate floor highlighting the most troubling components of the GOP’s ACA replacement bill. Below are his remarks:

Now, Mr. President, on the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill is such a mess and proving so deeply unpopular that Republicans are playing a game of hot potato with it.

Speaker Ryan still doesn’t want it called RyanCare. The Administration doesn’t want it called TrumpCare. They’re pointing at each other and hoping the other one takes the responsibility and blame.

President Trump, who has tried to put his name on nearly everything in his career, ties, steaks, water, doesn’t want his name on this bill. Well, the president himself is here on the hill today to sell the bill to House Republicans. Make no mistake, this is TrumpCare, the president’s bill.                                

And every American should know that if Republicans ultimately pass this bill, President Trump is behind it and Republicans will have helped him every step of the way.

So voters, particularly Trump supporters who would be hurt most by this TrumpCare bill, should remember that:

  • When your premiums start going up, President Trump did that.
  • When your insurance doesn’t cover all the things it used to, President Trump did that.
  • If you’re older and insurance companies are now charging you exorbitant premiums several times what you used to pay, President Trump did that.
  • When 24 million fewer Americans have health insurance while the wealthiest Americans get a huge tax break, you be sure – President Trump did that too.

Even now, the changes the House Republicans are making to buy-off different factions of their caucus are making the bill more harsh. Some of these changes will further weaken Medicaid and result in even fewer Americans with health coverage. And though Republicans claim they’re fixing the bill’s unfair impact on older Americans, they’re not. The truth is, the Republican Age Tax is still in the bill, and people in their 50s and 60s still stand to lose, big time. The larger truth is: Republicans aren’t even trying to make the bill better, they’re just trying to make it pass with all their various factions pulling them in different directions.

There’s no better evidence of that than the new “Senate Slush Fund” – a $75 billion earmark the House is giving the Senate to buy off Republican Senators who don’t want to vote for this bill. What happened to our fiscal conservative friends in the House? No unnecessary expenditures? A 75 billion slush fund? It doesn’t even say what it does. Wow. Unbelievable. Many Republican Senators don’t want to vote on the House bill because it’s going to crush older Americans with a new age tax.  But make no mistake, this Senate Slush Fund isn’t going to fix the problem at all.

And here’s the biggest problem: the consequences of TrumpCare are so bad for working Americans and older Americans that my friend the Majority Leader may rush it through this Chamber after we get it from the House. He’s already said that TrumpCare would bypass Committees and go right to the floor. There is even talk that Senate Republicans are negotiating a substitute bill, behind closed doors, that would take its place and also go straight to the floor. That’s not how we should do business here on something as important as health care.

That’s not just my view, that’s the Majority Leader’s view.

Listen to what the distinguished Majority Leader (then-Minority Leader) said about health reform in 2009 (when ACA was being debated), he said “we shouldn't try to do it in the dark. And whatever final bill is produced should be available to the American public and to the members of the Senate… for enough time to come to grips with it. And there should be and must be a CBO score.”

Let me repeat that: “There should and must be a CBO score.” I would ask our leader: “Are we going to have one before he rushes this bill to the floor?" I hope so.

“We are going to insist,” he said, “that it be done in a transparent, a fair and open way.”

The Majority Leader delights in pointing out instances when Democrats seem to go back on something they’ve said. So I certainly hope he follows his own advice from 2009, now that he’s the Majority Leader. We hope to see a published bill, with Senators given time to review, and a CBO score before anything moves forward. A fair, open, and transparent process, as he said.                                                       

I understand the desire to move quickly. The Majority knows the bill is bad. In fact, the consequences of TrumpCare are so bad that Republicans are talking about other “phases” of their plan, promising a second and third prong that will somehow make this bill better for the American people down the road.

They say to their colleagues “This bill is bad, but we’ll change it in the second and third prongs.”

It’s a diversion. If the Republicans can’t live with this bill, they should shelve it because those other “prongs” will either not happen or will make things worse. And I can speak with some authority on the third prong. The third prong – Republican legislation to make more changes to our health care system – it’s going to require 60 votes. I would warn my Republican colleagues, once you repeal the ACA in this fashion, just ripping it out, having nothing good to put in its place, our health care system is going to be too messed up to resuscitate with piecemeal legislation down the road

And even my Republican friends, senators on the other side of the aisle said as much: My friend the Junior Senator from Texas has said: “Anything placed in so-called bucket three won’t pass. If we want to pass real reforms we have to do it now on budget reconciliation.” You’re right, Ted. And my friend the Junior Senator from Arkansas Senator Cotton freely admits that “There is no three-phase process. There is no three-step plan. That is just political talk. It’s just politicians engaging in spin.”

Senator Cotton – couldn’t have said it better myself.

All Republicans in the House and Senate should hear this: Democrats will not help Republicans repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act – in one phase, two phases or three phases. This TrumpCare bill would cause such immense damage to our country and its citizens, average working families who are going to be paying more and getting less – we will not be complicit.

But we will work with our Republican colleagues to improve the existing law. If the President and the Majority Leader say “Alright, we’re not going to repeal,” of course we’ll listen. But they have to drop repeal first.

So Mr. President, again I urge my friends on the other side to drop their repeal efforts, drop TrumpCare, non-negotiated not a drop of bipartisanship in it, and come negotiate with Democrats on improvements to the Affordable Care Act.

Turn back before it’s too late, too late for the American people and too late for all of you who will be hurt as you try to defend TrumpCare in the next couple of years.