THEIRS: Senate crafts health care bill in secret |

When the U.S. House finally sent the Republicans’ American Health Care Act to the Senate on May 4, consensus was that it was dead on arrival. One reason, as even President Donald Trump this week acknowledged — six weeks after holding a Rose Garden ceremony to celebrate it — is that the House bill is “mean.”

It turns out the bill wasn’t DOA; it was only sleeping.

Behind closed doors, a group of 13 GOP senators — including Sen. John Thune of South Dakota — has all but completed work on a Senate substitute. No one outside the Senate leadership knows details, including its cost. No public hearings on it are scheduled. But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is leaning toward sending it over to the Congressional Budget Office for a quick analysis and then bringing it to a vote before the Senate adjourns for the July 4th holiday.

This process defies two centuries of Senate tradition that says the upper chamber is the statesmanlike brake on the passions of the more raucous House. It defies everything that various GOP senators said last month.

“At the end of the day, this is too important to get wrong,” said Richard Burr of North Carolina.

“I don’t think this gets better over time,” said Roy Blunt of Missouri.

“This is not like fine wine,” said Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “It doesn’t get better with age.”

McConnell is hoping Americans won’t notice. He’s using parliamentary tricks to move the bill quickly. It’s shameful, but McConnell is the guy who cheated Merrick Garland out of a Supreme Court seat, so shame is not a problem for him.

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