It is not news that Republicans are hell bent for leather to get rid of Obamacare and enact their version of health care. Today, after being forced to bring it out from the back room into the light of day, they voted to open debate on the bill.
The motion to open debate was passed along strictly partisan lines, with Democrats voting no. They were joined by Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Senator John McCain, who was just diagnosed with brain cancer, returned to Washington to cast his yes vote, giving the measure 50 votes. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaker. So now the game is on.
Business Insider broke down what will happen next:
- 20 hours of debate — in legislative time — will begin, split equally between Democrats and Republicans.
- The first amendment to be voted on is likely to be the ORRA to satisfy conservative hold-out Rand Paul and other conservatives. This plan is likely to be shot down by moderates.
- The first amendment to be offered procedurally — but the second to be voted on, the news website Axios reported — would be the BCRA, which was last updated on Thursday. Again, Republicans can afford only two defections.
- According to reports, there is an agreement between Sen. Rob Portman, a more moderate holdout, and Sen. Ted Cruz, a conservative, on an amendment that would keep the structure of the BCRA but allow insurers to sell non-Obamacare-compliant policies and throw in $100 billion to the state stabilization fund. But since that would require 60 votes to pass, and it has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, it is almost certainly doomed, since there are only 52 Republicans in the Senate.
- There could then be a series of amendments to the House bill, including those from Democrats. Additionally, other healthcare legislation could be slotted in for a vote.
- Finally, McConnell will try to push the Senate to pass a bundle of smaller amendments focused on repealing aspects of Obamacare like the individual mandate and medical-device tax. After this, the House and the Senate would flesh out a full replacement bill in a conference committee.
It is obvious that Mitch McConnell could care less about those who would be adversely affected by denying health care to millions. That has been made abundantly clear by the arrests of disabled protestors who have doggedly shown up at his office to protest the draconian bill put forward by the Senate. It is also obvious that the only thing the GOP wants is a win. They don’t give a rat’s a** who dies, just as long as they can get a win on the board.
I’ll tell you who will care: Republicans who wish to keep their seats. But they have to hear from their constituents and the message has to be loud and clear.
This morning, I ran across a post on Facebook asking people to call their senators to urge them to say no to debating the bill. One of the people responding to the post said that their senators were Democrats but they were calling Republican senators to register their disapproval of the bill. Then another person chimed in and said not to do so, because that would impede people who were represented by those senators from making their voices heard. Of course, the person with the Democratic senators took offense and argued that the decision would affect not just the constituents of the Republican senators, but the entire nation. While that is true, the person imploring out of staters not to call has a valid – and important – point. Senator Ted Cruz couldn’t care less about people in Maryland. Why? Because he doesn’t need their votes. So I tend to agree with the person who said let the constituents of a given senator get through. Don’t clog up the phone lines with messages that will be disregarded once it’s found out that you aren’t a constituent.
That, however, doesn’t mean those represented by senators opposing the bill should remain silent. Let your Democratic senators know that you expect them to spell out in no uncertain terms how bad the GOP health care bill is for the people of this country. Urge them to go on every news show possible to talk to the American people – even on Fox, because for the Trump voter, that is their only source of news. Most of them will throw rotten tomatoes at the TV, but some will hear that message and realize they are at risk. Send emails and letters to let the opposition know that while you may not live in a certain state, your money can go across state lines to support Democratic candidates in bids to take away their seats. If you live in the Washington area, make it a point to demonstrate in front of the Senate building while the debate goes on. If you live in a red state, show up in front of your senators’ offices with signs and bullhorns.
Lastly, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing that we will finally have a debate on the Republican health care bill out in the open. Finally, the American people will see what McConnell and his minions have been hiding from us. If they had to hide it, then you know it isn’t good.
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
Ann Werner is the author of thrillers and other things. Show her some love and check out her books!
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