The healthcare bill concocted by Senator Mitch McConnell and his group of GOP colleagues may or may not pass. But however the outcome, the process offers Democrats a golden opportunity to showcase their positions and pin Republicans down on some subjects which they may come to regret during the next election season.
McConnell hopes to pass his bill under reconciliation rules. In this process senators will be able to offer an unlimited number of amendments during a 20-hour debate period. After the debate each amendment will be given an up-or-down vote. This rapid-fire voting session is called a “vote-o-rama.”
Here are some ideas for vote-o-rama amendments. Everyone knows by now that some of the Obamacare markets are having difficulty attracting and keeping insurers, leaving people little or no choice. This amendment says, “in the event any Obamacare district has one or no insurance companies offering healthcare policies, anyone living in the district automatically is eligible to enroll in Medicare as if he or she was 65.” This not only solves a real problem, it also advances the progressive Democrats’ Medicare For All agenda. Let the Republicans vote against it and explain their vote against expanded choice to the voters.
Sadly, we have recently seen more cases of gun violence. Democrats have long been for more gun control. Why not some amendments on that subject? “In order to improve the health and welfare of the American people, no one with a history of mental illness shall be allowed to purchase a firearm,” is one possibility. Or how about “anyone convicted of a crime using a firearm shall not be eligible to purchase a healthcare policy under this title and will be denied treatment for any and all illnesses and conditions covered by this act.” Let the Republicans explain why someone who uses a gun to murder a fellow American should still be eligible to buy health insurance with a taxpayer subsidy.
The Democrats should also use vote-o-rama to test how serious Republicans are about their so-called fiscal conservatism. For years Republicans have lobbied for a balance budget. “This bill shall not be effective unless and until the Congress passes and the president signs a balanced budget.” Let the Republicans explain why they vote against that one.
I am sure you can come up with some more amendments on your own. Send them to every Democrat in the Senate and let the vote-o-rama begin.