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 read the bill.
“I encourage all Americans to read this bill online at readthebill.gop,” Ryan said.
By Friday, the day after the legislation sailed through the House, it became apparent many of Ryan’s colleagues didn’t heed his advice.
Several Republican representatives have said they did not 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 on Thursday that he did not read the entire bill.
“I will fully admit, Wolf, 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 to him a provision of the AHCA that would cut $3 billion in funding to help low- and middle-income New Yorkers pay for healthcare.
Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, who flipped his voted to a “yes” on the AHCA 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 or not I got through some of the details in some of the pages, no. But yes, I attempted to read the entire bill.”
Sanford said he thoroughly read the amendments to the bill.
On Thursday, before the vote, Rep. Thomas Garrett of Virginia told MSNBC 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,” Garrett said. “I don’t think any individual has read the whole bill, but that’s why we have staff.”
Republican leaders long criticized Democrats for supposedly not reading the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law better known as Obamacare, before passing that bill.
The 126-page AHCA had two amendments totaling 11 pages, making the full bill 137 pages. The Affordable Care Act and a 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 during a press briefing in March even held up the ACA to compare its length with the AHCA’s.
“For all the people who have concerns about this, especially on the right,” Spicer said, “look at the size.”