In a move that starts conversations to change the entire American healthcare system as we know it, on July 25, the Senate voted 51-50 to move ahead with debating an Obamacare repeal. Though two Republicans registered their dissent with “no” votes, they were ultimately canceled out by a tie-breaker vote from Vice President Mike Pence and a special appearance from Arizona Senator John McCain, who recently underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor and came out of recovery in order to tilt the scales in the GOP’s favor.
Ultimately, this all means that contrary to what we’ve been hearing the last couple of weeks, the repeal and replace process is far from dead – but neither is the fight against it. Here, we’ve broken down four of the reasons we should all retain hope that the essential benefits we’ve all come to recognize as standard thanks to Obamacare won’t be making an exit from our lives anytime soon.
1. There are three proposals under discussion, two of which have major roadblocks and one of which will require a whole lot of work to flesh out what exactly it’s going to do – and that takes time as well as productive negotiation.
The quick and dirty rundown on all three: BCRA (Better Care Reconciliation Act) is the plan that the Senate has been working on for months, but thanks to last-minute changes, they’d likely need 60 votes to make it pass, and there just isn’t enough support for it; ORRA (Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act) only repeals Obamacare with no planned replacement, which can’t pass as it would cause the healthcare market to collapse; “Skinny Repeal” is the most recent addition and the most likely to be the path forward for the GOP, but it’s more of a placeholder than anything else and at present doesn’t have any clear guidelines for a lot of the issues that have been raised since this whole process started – it’s the proposal that John McCain notably called a “shell.”
2. What was voted on was just an agreement to start talks – not a bill itself – and there are a whole lot of things that need to happen between now and when a bill would land on President Donald Trump’s desk. While Senate Democrats can’t stop the process outright, they can absolutely drag their feet throughout the whole process.
After 20 hours of debate, the Senate will move to what’s called a vote-a-rama (yes, that’s a real term and not something Aaron Sorkin made up) which is when anyone can propose any sort of amendment to the bill that they’d like. For Democrats, this offers a clear opportunity to force their Republican counterparts to take stands on issues that might make them extremely unpopular with their constituencies, and it can hold up the whole process quite a bit – especially when individuals like Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy already have 100 amendments drawn up to throw into this process. It’s unlikely that any of these amendments will make their way into a final version, but it definitely isn’t a great look for senators when they have to vote against something that would be a huge boon for those who reside in their state just to keep within their party lines.
3. The first bill, put forth for a vote shortly after the debate process started on July 25, fell flat on its face.
We can’t take this for granted – as the bill evolves, so will the vote count – but it’s somewhat of a reassurance that the very first attempt to pass a bill that hasn’t faced public scrutiny lost in a 57-43 vote. But what it does offer is some insight into who it is we should be looking at when it comes to people who aren’t going to just vote yes because they want to be in line with the party: Mike Lee, Susan Collins, Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, Dean Heller, Jerry Moran, Lisa Murkowski, and Tom Cotton.
4. If we’ve learned nothing else throughout this long process, it’s that calling your senator and making your voice heard matters – and there’s now a key opportunity to do just that.
Just one call, one email, or one in-person protest can make a difference in your state – and if you haven’t done so already, it’s a great opportunity to show your dissent against these actions. If you want to take part and aren’t sure how to do it, be sure to check out The Resistance and Indivisible Guide.