Obamacare is on the tips of the tongues of every American who is the age of majority, after Donald Trump said he was tossing it out and coming up with a new plan. There is reportedly a new Affordable Care Act bill on the docket, or at least something exists in draft form. The problem is that the bill is reportedly missing, and led legislators and press alike on a frantic search Thursday afternoon that appeared to be a game of hide and seek.
The new Obamacare bill drafted by Republicans was supposed to be out Wednesday, and indeed, legislators and reporters were all told that it was. They were also told that the draft of the new Affordable Care Act was being held in Room H-157 on Capitol Hill and could be viewed on Thursday. That news, according to Vox, that the bill was in that room, resulted in a wild goose chase yesterday that included reporters and legislators alike frantically searching for a bill that was nowhere to be found.
The goose chase also resulted in an elected lawmaker talking to a statue, in front of other people including press, before the chase ended. That actually happened.
The bill wasn’t in the room. Not only was the bill not in the room that it was alleged to have been in, but the room was being guarded by Capitol Hill police when the gaggle of legislators and reporters arrived.
Rand Paul talking to press after being told he can't get a public copy of the GOP ACA replacement pic.twitter.com/ugvSpF5zOD
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) March 2, 2017
It would later be discovered that the room was empty, with nary a human or bill to be found. That means an empty room was being guarded by police. Or at least that is how it appeared at first, as press and lawmakers alike were repeatedly told the bill was not in the room.
What led to the big chase and the case of the missing health care bill were numerous reports in the media on Wednesday that the draft replacement of the Affordable Care Act would be available for viewing on Thursday. Anyone looking at the bill could only look at the bill. There would be no copies, and nobody would be allowed to take it home. Additionally, all viewings would be secretive.
Not invited to the viewing party were Democratic House members and Republican Senators, reports Vox. But some decided to crash the party anyway.
On Thursday morning, word got out that room H-157, a “nondescript meeting room” on Capitol Hill, was the holding place of the bill. When lawmakers arrived Thursday, they arrived to the police and dozens of reporters waiting to hear about this bill that every American wants, and needs, to know about.
The first lawmaker to arrive was Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. He reportedly arrived with a mobile printer, and he was not permitted into H-157.
“We’re here asking for written copy of this because this should be an open and transparent process. This is being presented as if it’s a national secret. As if it’s a plot to invade another country.”
The L.A. Times reports that Rand Paul also reminded the press that one of his first bills was the Read the Bill Act, an act that requires Congress to actually read the bills before they are passed.
Next up to attempt breaking through the sentinel guarding the sacred room was Democrat Paul Tonko of New York, who also was refused entry, Vox reports.
“Ranking member Frank Pallone knew about the number, I don’t know if it was shared officially, so we came over here to read the bill.”
They were told it wasn’t in the room. That turned out to be true. But why the police were there, or who asked them to be there, remains unclear at this time.
House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady was allowed into the room, and left the room asserting there was no bill, but that he had been there for a different meeting. He told press and legislators waiting he asked where the bill was and was told, “You’ll have to ask someone who has got the bill.”
Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took matters into her own hands and assigned a canine unit in the hunt for the missing bill. Nancy Pelosi expressed great distress over the missing bill.
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) March 2, 2017
Democrat House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer was the next to arrive on the scene, and he was allowed entry into Room H-157. Nobody was in the room and no bill was in the room. He reported that he had looked in the Ways and Means Committee Room, in the Ways and Means conference room, and said, “We cannot find the bill.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), yelling at a statue. pic.twitter.com/3mFgBfGIlx
— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) March 2, 2017
Mr. Hoyer then had a conversation with Abraham Lincoln, who had also been present for the mysterious events surrounding room H-157, in a very large bust that was near the room. With press and fellow lawmakers present, Vox reports Mr. Hoyer said the following to Mr. Lincoln.
“Mr. Lincoln, I can’t find the bill. Mr. Lincoln, you said public sentiment is everything. But if the public can’t see the bill, they can’t give us their sentiment. That’s not regular order. That’s not democracy. That’s not good for our people. I know, Mr. Lincoln, you are as upset with your party as I am.”
The L.A. Times reports there is a serious side to these “theatrics.” Republicans and Democrats alike have issues with the idea of losing Obamacare. A new Affordable Care Act is going to face much resistance in the house, from both sides of the aisle.
The search for the new version of the Obamacare bill continues.
[Feature Image by Khui Bui/AP Images]