On March 7, the day after the original version of the American Health Care Act was unveiled, House Speaker Paul Ryan told Americans where they could go read the 129-page bill.
“I encourage all Americans to read this bill online at readthebill.gop,” Ryan said. “Go online and read the bill at readthebill.gop.”
The day after the legislation finally sailed through the House, it has become apparent that many of Ryan’s colleagues didn’t heed his advice.
Several Republican House members have admitted after the legislation’s passage that they did not actually read the bill, instead relying on staff or the media to understand its potential effects.
Rep. Chris Collins of New York told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he did not read the entire bill, instead relying on staff to do so.
“I will fully admit, Wolf, that I did not,” Collins said. “But I can also assure you my staff did. We have to rely on our staff.”
Collins also had to ask a reporter from the Buffalo News to explain a provision of the AHCA to him that would cut $US3 billion in funding that goes to low- and middle-income New Yorkers to help pay for healthcare.
Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, who flipped his voted to a “yes” on the AHCA just days before its passage, told CNN that he looked at the bill but did not absorb all of it.
“I turned through every page,” Sanford said. “As to whether I got through some of the detail in all the pages … I attempted to read the entire bill.”
Sanford did say that he “thoroughly” read the amendments to the bill.
On Thursday, before the vote, Rep. Thomas Garrett of Virginia told MSNBC that he also did not read the bill.
“Oh, gosh. Let’s put it this way, people in my office have read all the parts of the bill,” said Garrett. “I don’t think any individual has read the whole bill, but that’s why we have staff.”
Republican leaders long criticised Democrats for supposedly not reading the the Affordable Care Act before that bill was passed.
The 129-page long AHCA had three amendments added totaling 15 pages. The Affordable Care Act and an additional reconciliation bill attached to it comprised 974 pages.
Ryan wasn’t the only Republican leader to boast about how short and easy to read the bill was. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer even held up the ACA, comparing it to the AHCA’s length during a press briefing.
“For all the people who have concerns about this, especially on the right,” Spicer said. “Look at the size.”
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