WASHINGTON — It was “find the Affordable Care Act replacement” day on Thursday as publicity-seeking Democrats — and one frustrated Republican — scampered through Capitol corridors, hunting for an elusive copy of a bill that Republican leaders have withheld from the public as they search for party unity.
Just a week before two powerful House committees plan to vote on the measure, opponents spent hours making the point that almost no one has actually seen legislation that would affect the lives and pocketbooks of millions of Americans.
“The Republicans have played hide-and-seek with us,” said Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin said party leaders were determined to plow ahead with repeal legislation, despite lingering disagreements among Republicans and outright opposition from Democrats.
“I am perfectly confident that when it’s all said and done, we’re going to unify, because we all, every Republican, ran on repealing and replacing and we’re going to keep our promises,” Mr. Ryan said.
The Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicaid, and the Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for tax legislation, are tentatively scheduled to vote next week on the repeal bill, setting the stage for the full House to vote on it later this month, House Republican leaders said.
While Republicans discussed details of the health care bill, Democrats went from office to office, hunting for a copy. Lawmakers were told that Republican members of the Energy and Commerce Committee could inspect the bill on Thursday in the basement of a House office building. When Democrats arrived, they were directed to a room on the first floor of the Capitol.
The House Democratic whip, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, and Representative Paul Tonko, Democrat of New York, went to that room, but could not find the bill there.
Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who has criticized the repeal bill, also tried and failed to see it.
“I have been told that the House Obamacare bill is under lock & key, in a secure location, & not available for me or the public to view,” Mr. Paul said on Twitter as he set off in search of the document, carrying a portable copy machine and trailed by television cameras and a pack of journalists.
Mr. Paul supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, but said the measure described publicly by House Republican leaders included “Democratic ideas dressed up in Republican clothing.”
Mr. Hoyer, whose quest for the bill was broadcast live on Facebook, paused to address a large…