Much of what Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) has said during the health care fight is better left ignored, but he made one observation yesterday that stood out for me.
"People keep talking about a secret process. Well, this is about as open and transparent as it gets, and everybody will have an opportunity to offer an amendment, to discuss what's in the amendment, and to vote on it."
I suppose it's possible that Cornyn literally doesn't know the meaning of the words "open" and "transparent," but it's far more likely that the Senate Majority Whip is trying to gaslight the public.
It's a dynamic that requires no exaggeration or hyperbole. Senate Republicans this week began a floor fight on a health care proposal they had not yet written. While amendments are usually offered as a way to improve legislation, GOP leaders invited senators to introduce amendments on a bill they haven't read -- not because they're lazy, but because it's impossible to read a bill that does not exist.
At this point, the Senate Republican leadership continues to craft a secret measure, behind closed doors, making changes along the way following secret deals.
A vote on the GOP plan is imminent, despite the fact that no one, including senators themselves, knows anything about the bill's contents. Indeed, even now, no one can say with confidence if the bill has even been written.
John Cornyn believes this is "about as open and transparent as it gets." If that's true, the American policymaking process is irretrievably broken. If it's false, the Senate Majority Whip is lying in ways the political world should not tolerate.