The American Health Care Act, last estimated to increase the number of uninsured in the U.S. by 24 million people, was rushed through the House of Representatives on Thursday. It passed by only four votes.
It was rushed through so quickly, in fact, that some members of Congress didn’t even read the full bill, which was amended as late as Wednesday night. Two Republican representatives who voted for the legislation without reading the whole thing were Chris Collins of New York and Thomas Garrett of Virginia.
When asked Thursday by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer whether he was aware that the bill cut a health program that served 635,000 in New York State, Collins said that while he had not read the bill himself, “I can also assure you my staff did. We have to rely on our staff.”
Collins, a relatively obscure Republican until earlier this year, has repeatedly gone to the mat for the Trump administration, which in turn has sharply elevated his political profile.
During the last round of failed AHCA negotiations, in late March, Collins became one of the bill’s biggest congressional boosters. He memorably told MSNBC that first Congress had to pass the bill, “and then we can have the chance to really explain what’s in it.”
Meanwhile, Garrett, speaking on TV just a couple hours before Thursday’s vote on the AHCA, expressed bewilderment at the idea that he hadn’t actually read the legislation.
“Let’s put it this way: People in my office have read all parts of the bill,” Garrett said on MSNBC. “I don’t think any individual has read the whole bill.” Of course, eight years ago, the shoe was on the other foot for the Republicans. In the summer of 2009, when the Democrats were trying to get Obamacare passed, Paul Ryan said, “I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read, that we don’t know what they cost.”