Day 141: The War to Repeal Obamacare is Happening in the Dead of Night
Forget the intel committee, the story directly affecting more Americans more immediately was in the finance committee.
While former FBI director James Comey was testifying under oath and calling Donald Trump a liar yesterday, something that has a substantially larger impact on American lives was happening in the finance committee.
Yes, Comey’s testimony was important because it brought direct evidence that the President of the United States may have tried to influence a federal investigation into one of the president’s cronies. It was vital for the nation to hear. But, ultimately, nonpartisan special counsel Robert Mueller is the key to everything, not the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee.
Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee was hearing testimony from HHS Secretary Tom Price about his budget. The Republicans’ plan on health care became a focal point and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) was waiting for her opportunity to pounce.
She asked, “Will we have a have a hearing on the proposal?” After chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) stammered that he thought there had been one, McCaskill pressed: “No. I mean on the proposal that you’re planning on bringing to the floor of the Senate for a vote, will there be a hearing?”
After an aide whispered to Hatch — embarrassingly picked up via his microphone — that he should respond that Democrats had been invited to participate in the process, he echoed that to McCaskill.
She then thundered for two minutes, railing against that assertion.
Her points were clear, concise and passionate:
“We heard you, Mr. Secretary, just say, ‘We’d love your support’ — for what? We don’t even know. We have no idea what’s being proposed. There’s a group of guys in a back room somewhere that are making these decisions. There were no hearings in the House.”
“We’re not even going to have a hearing on a bill that impacts one-sixth of our economy. We’re not going to have an opportunity to offer a single amendment. It is all being done with an eye to try to get it by with 50 votes and the vice president.”
The war — and make no mistake, this is a war; if healthcare coverage goes away for millions of Americans, many people will die — is very much on to save the Affordable Care Act.
Democratic senators are trying, largely in vain, to warn the American people exactly what’s happening right now, outside of the Comey hearings.
Barack Obama’s former administrator who ran Medicare, Medicaid and the ACA, Andy Slavitt, explained how the process is most likely to go in the Senate.
While many on the left were hoping that moderate Republicans might be able to impede the passage of whatever the GOP puts forth, they’re caving quickly.
“Moderate” Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), appears on board with the new plan because it guts Medicaid slowly. This is despite Heller previously claiming he couldn’t support a bill that phases out Medicaid since Nevadans rely on it.
This is also true for “moderates” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Shelley Capito (R-WV).
The Democrats need to find three Republicans unwilling to support the Senate’s version of a bill — which, again, no one has seen — or the ACA will be repealed and replaced with nothing more than a glorified tax cut for the wealthy. The list of GOP allies is quickly shrinking for Democrats.
McCaskill’s words were right on the money: there are no hearings, no debates, no bipartisanship, no openness at all. This bill is being crafted in a back room in the dead of night in an effort to jam it through with exactly 50 votes and the vice president breaking the tie.
To contact your senator, find their contact information here.
141 days in, 1321 to go
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