“It’s there. Anybody can read it. Folks watching on television now can go online and read what the bill is. They can watch the committee hearings. Those are things that were dramatically missing in Obamacare.” — White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” March 12, 2017
“We already had two committee hearings, which I believe is two more than Obamacare had in the House.” — Mulvaney, interview on ABC’s “This Week,” March 12
Legislative sausage-making, particularly on big bills, is often complex and confusing. In theory, the bills are drafted in committees, but the reality is that hard work is often done behind the scenes, where lawmakers haggle over details and cut deals. Sometimes secrecy is essential, because if some details become public too soon, opponents have more time to build opposition.
The House Republican replacement bill, for instance, for a period was kept under lock and key, available only to members, until it was ready for debate at two key committees.
Nevertheless, we were rather surprised to see White House budget director Mulvaney assert on national television that the Affordable Care Act, by contrast, was drafted with no committee hearings and that no one could read the bill before it was passed.
Is that really the case?