As Republican senators gather in secret to hammer out their version of the almost-certainly catastrophic American Health Care Act, they are taking unprecedented lengths to shield their activities from public scrutiny.
On Tuesday, Capitol Hill journalists began sharing news that they would no longer be allowed to film interviews with elected officials in the halls of Congress, as had been the tradition for decades.
The decision to limit press access appears to have been entirely a Republican creation, as Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the top Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee called on her colleagues across the aisle to reverse the new rule and “allow reporting in the Capitol to proceed as usual.”
Lest you get a little too comfortable in your tin foil hats, Republican Senator Tim Scott is here to throw cold water all over conspiracy theories.
While not directly linked with the ongoing healthcare deliberations, the timing of the move is suspicious, and follows a pattern of GOP obfuscation when it comes to plans for the AHCA—a bill which has yet to be released publicly, making press access to senators and their staff all the more crucial in sussing out what’s in the proposed legislation to begin with.
The GOP calculus, it seems, is clear:
- Don’t show anyone the bill.
- Make it as difficult as possible to report on its contents and its progress.
- Ram it through before anyone knows what’s going on.
In fact, in their effort to slip this massive piece of legislation through unnoticed, GOP officials have either kept the details of their plans secret from their own, or instructed their staff to run interference when asked about what the bill might entail.
It’s a tactic seemingly confirmed by one GOP aide, who told “Pod Save America” host Jon Favreau that the reason Senate Republicans aren’t making their health care bill public is because “we’re not stupid.”
Maybe not, but they sure seem to think the rest of us are.
Update—3:50PM: Hours after imposing their sudden rule shift on Capitol Hill reporters, the Senate Rules Committee issued an abrupt about face, and notified journalists “to follow the rules as if it was yesterday.”