By Dan Giallombardo, Community Contributor
This morning, in company with what I am certain was a large portion of the American people; I sat up and watched the Senate vote on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The bill failed by a vote of 49-51, a slim margin of victory but enough that the Vice President would not be able to cast a tie-breaking vote.
After the vote, Mitch McConnell proceeded to give the most graceless of speeches, blaming the loss on the Democrats who he claimed, provided no input to the bill (actually by McConnell’s orders they were not allowed into the negotiations on the bill’s content) stating, “they are probably celebrating,” this. He went on to say that, “we promised the American people we’d do this,” and that, “some of us, most of us, have kept that promise”. But even given McConnell’s apparent bitterness during defeat, I’m not at all certain that this was a fight he wanted to win.
What member of Congress would like to face the folks at home with the cost of insurance, for those who could still afford it, rising by 20%; or having to try to explain how it’s in the national interest to eliminate, by CBO estimates, 32,000,000 (that’s 32 million) Americans from being insured at all? It takes little imagination to understand that the fewer the number of people being insured, the less money the insurance companies will make. This, in turn, means they must elevate their rates to meet their stockholders’ expectations. So who wins here? Certainly not the Trump administration.
Trump has been telling everyone that the GOP, the ‘Grand Obstructionist Party’, would produce a bigger and better healthcare bill; he campaigned on it and he’s been saying so since his first day in office. Desperate for a bill to be passed during his first year, Trump forced this down the throats of the House and Senate, the leaders of which immediately bent to his will.
In his floor speech, McConnell tried to hold the Democrats accountable for the defeat of the bill, saying, “we’ll have to see what they have to say to make this better. It’ll be interesting.” He held up the specters of “European healthcare” and “socialized medicine,” as though they were cudgels he could use to intimidate the Upper House after the vote was held and tallied. All the way around it was a classless presentation by McConnell, who is a member of a party holding sway in both Houses of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court.
Apparently, politicians in Washington still don’t understand who is the deciding factor in this Great Republic in which we are so fortunate to live. Millions of us have protested in the streets, many more, myself included, chose to make phone calls and send letters and postcards expressing our views and urging our Senators to either hold the line (Durbin and Duckworth) or to strongly reconsider their positions of support. It has worked over and over again, as it frequently does when the American population stands up and says “enough.” In the end, this morning’s vote is a victory for the American people!
One more note … John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, all Republicans, opposed the bill. McCain, sporting a large crescent scar above his left eye from very recent brain surgery, courageously voted no in the face of enormous pressure. He was seen frequently leaving and reentering the Senate floor with the Vice President Pence. In the end, John McCain chose to be “a Maverick” at the best possible time. Think about this for a second…the man who was a GOP candidate for President chose the people over party and voted against this bill.
Susan Collins opposed the bill from the beginning, a courageous move on her part. And Lisa Murkowski voted against the bill despite being threatened by Trump, via tweet, with the loss of Federal aid to Alaska should she vote against the bill.
Murowski, Snow, and McCain did something unusual these days; they put aside partisanship and voted their conscience. All three will surely be held accountable by Donald Trump and the other leaders of their party, but it seems there is a small internal revolution growing in the Senate to put the people over party. Somehow, I’m sure they’re all looking forward to the August recess, but this is clearly a victory for us, the people.