The United States Senate has voted by the narrowest of margins to begin considering legislation with unknown provisions that would eviscerate the Patient Protection Act signed into law by President Obama seven years ago.
Fifty Republicans voted in favor of advancing the bill, while two Republicans (Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins) voted against, along with all forty-eight Democrats. With the Senate deadlocked, Mike Pence then cast the tiebreaking vote.
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona returned to the Senate floor to cast the decisive “aye” vote, and then proceeded, within moments of casting said vote, to give a long speech hypocritically calling for a return to “regular order”.
Considering what John McCain is going through, he ought to understand better than any senator how immoral it would be to rob millions of Americans of their healthcare by gutting the Patient Protection Act.
Today’s vote was only procedural. As such, the fight to save Americans’ healthcare goes on. But it is gravely disappointing to see that only two members of the Republican caucus stood up to Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.
The roll call from the Pacific Northwest was as follows:
VOTING AYE: Republican Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID), Steve Daines (MT), Dan Sullivan (AK)
VOTING NAY: Democratic Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden (OR), Jon Tester (MT); Republican Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Democrats condemned the vote in strongly worded statements.
“It’s inconceivable that any of our nation’s leaders think our health care system will be improved by ripping away health care from 22 million Americans and vastly increasing the costs for millions more,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
“[Donald] Trump promised Americans he would improve our health care system. He promised he would not cut Medicaid, and that his plan would make health care more accessible and more affordable. [Trumpcuts] doesn’t deliver on a single one of those promises. In fact it exacerbates each of them.”
“This isn’t about repeal, or repeal and replace. Republican congressional leaders and Trump want to instead repeal and redirect this funding to an enormous tax break for the wealthiest Americans. The Senate bill is being written entirely in secret. Not even Republican senators know what they will be voting on today.”
“But we know that every proposal put forward in the Senate has been just as bad or worse for our state than the bad bill passed by the House in May.”
“I urge every senator to reject this cruel measure. And I encourage all Washingtonians to continue contacting their representatives in Congress to tell them to pursue real bipartisan solutions that protect and build upon our state’s progress improving health care access, quality and affordability.”
“And finally, I want to thank Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for their hard work defending the people of Washington.”
Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski echoed Inslee.
“Today is a shameful day for the U.S. Senate,” Podlowski said.
“Republicans have just voted to move forward on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, something we know will end health care coverage for tens of millions of Americans, send insurance premiums through the roof, and slash essential protections for women, seniors, and those with pre-existing conditions.
“It’s despicable how they have slammed this effort through the Senate with no hearings, no transparency, and no effort to work with Democrats to actually make health care better in this country. Republicans have made their priorities crystal clear with this vote — they will end health care for millions in pursuit of passing one of the biggest tax cuts in history for the richest 1%. It’s completely backwards.”
“I want to thank our Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for voting against this effort to slash health care for millions of Americans. They are true champions for Washington state and we’re lucky to have them fighting for us in D.C. as the effort to save health care continues and the Senate moves towards a final vote.”
“The irony is not lost on millions of Americans that the Republican Senators who voted to take away their care enjoy one of the best healthcare plans in the nation. We will fight at the ballot box to turn these folks out of office, but especially to make sure their House Republican colleagues in Washington State — [Cathy] McMorris Rodgers, [Dave] Reichert, [Jaime] Herrera Beutler and [Dan] Newhouse — are turned out of office in the 2018 elections.”