Congressman Jim Cooper

Representing the 5th District of Tennessee

Cooper Calls on Sen. McConnell, Sen. Hatch to Change Senate Approach to Health Care Bill

May 23, 2017
Press Release
Senate Leaders Should Consult Experts, Hold Open Hearings and Consider Voices from Both Parties

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, questioning the Senate’s current approach to the debate over health care.

Rep. Cooper’s letter follows House passage of the American Health Care Act. The letter was Rep. Cooper’s response to a private letter sent May 12 by Sen. Hatch soliciting input on the Senate’s emerging health care bill. Sen. Hatch’s letter was never released to the public, and today was the final day to respond.

The letter also comes hours after Sen. Bob Corker criticized senators in his own party for failing to hold public hearings or otherwise allow open and public analysis of the process.

In the letter, Rep. Cooper calls for bipartisanship, transparency and inclusion on an issue that touches every American. The text of the letter is below.

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Chairman Hatch,

Please listen to Sen. Bob Corker's criticism of the Senate process for drafting a health care bill.

No hearings, no experts, no real debate? And you are deliberately bypassing the Senate HELP Committee with a special committee that you appointed that is comprised of 13 white male Republicans? You are deliberately omitting Republican women senators and Republican physician senators? And, of course, you are omitting all Democratic senators. Why are you refusing to even try to be bipartisan?

We read today in The New York Times that you might accept emailed comments, if they are submitted today. What is this new process? An email hearing? Aren't you just confirming Sen. Corker's suspicions? No hearings, no witnesses, no in-person testimony?

Is this any way to run the U.S. Senate? No. This is an abomination. What once was viewed as the world's greatest deliberative body is being reduced to a shadow of its former self, under your leadership.

The most recent CBO analysis of the House bill indicates that it will hurt 24 million Americans. Your short-circuiting the Senate could do even more damage.

A better course of action would be to hold real hearings on the problems of Obamacare, and to make a serious, bipartisan effort to fix any such problems. That would be the way the U.S. Senate is supposed to function.

Give it a try,

Rep. Jim Cooper
Member of Congress