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Democrats gum up Senate business to protest GOP healthcare bill secrecy

Ready for a long night in the Senate?

Senators settled in Monday as Democrats plan to slow-walk all action until Republicans relent on their secret healthcare negotiations and debate their Obamacare replacement in public.

Democrats plan to object to even the most routine procedural requests and use the floor time instead to berate Republicans for drafting the healthcare bill behind closed doors.

The tactic will not necessarily stall the Senate. The week's schedule is not especially busy. But it will highlight the secrecy around the healthcare debate as Republicans rush to finish the bill before their Fourth of July recess.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the Senate with no mention of when the GOP would unveil their bill or bring it to a vote. But many expect the strategic GOP leader will push it swiftly to the floor, nudging reluctant Republicans to vote.  

But Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) chided Republicans for hiding the legislation that will likely result in millions of Americans losing their healthcare coverage.

"They’re ashamed of it, plain and simple," Schumer said.

"No wonder they don't want to show anyone the bill."

Democrats say that they spent many hours in open-session public committee hearings in 2009 drafting the legislation that would become the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Lawmakers at the time were pressured by constituents to "Read the bill!" before they voted.

The Senate's GOP plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act is expected to phase out Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid and reduce federal subsidies for buying insurance on the private market.

Weeks in the making during private lunch time meetings, the Senate bill is likely to reflect the House GOP's effort and loosen Obamacare's provisions to protect coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Analysts said 23 million more Americans would be without healthcare under the House bill.

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