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Sanders calls GOP health care bill ‘destructive’ and ‘irresponsible’

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders slammed Senate Republicans’ health care bill as “destructive” and “irresponsible” in a speech at the NAACP national convention in Baltimore on Monday.

Calling the bill the “cruelest, most destructive and irresponsible piece of legislation ever brought to the United States Senate in the modern history of this country,” Sanders highlighted the possible effects of the bill’s provisions, which include cutting Medicaid, defunding Planned Parenthood and roadblocks for those with pre-existing conditions.

Sanders also criticized Republicans for not holding hearings on the bill and writing it “behind closed doors.”

“This legislation is overwhelmingly opposed by the American people, overwhelming opposed by virtually every health care organization in this country,” Sanders said, listing a number of organizations that oppose the bill, including AARP and the American Cancer Society.

Sanders’ remarks were a part of the conference’s policy discussions, which included a panel of Democratic legislators such as Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott, and Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee as well as Republican Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor.

Sanders also briefly touched on a number of other topics during his speech including criminal justice reform, police department reform, minimum wage and Wall Street reform.

The speech came as Sanders continues to be one of the most active potential Democratic candidates ahead of the 2020 election. In his 2016 run for the presidency, Sanders struggled to compete for African-American votes with eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Despite recent trips to West Virginia, Kentucky and Iowa, Sanders told SiriusXM’s Mark Thompson on July 12 that it was still “too early” to talk 2020.

“I am not taking it off the table. I just have not made any decisions. And I think it’s much too early,” Sanders said.