Soon after the six month anniversary of President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, Republicans are moving forward in their fight to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise referred to as Obamacare. On July 25, the Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, voted on a motion to proceed on the Republican party’s health care bill.
The movement to repeal and replace the ACA has been in the works for nearly 7 years since the law was put in place to begin with. With the election of Trump, the GOP has gained momentum in their work but has yet to pass any legislation with the bill.
“Here we are, seven months into this year, and yet they’ve not passed this bill. They’re not going to repeal and replace Obamacare,” said John Boehner, the previous Speaker of the House. “It’s been around too long. And the American people have gotten accustomed to it…trying to pull it back is really not going to work.”
In 2017, both the Senate and House have been working on the repeal and replace plan, though not together. The House had their own version of the bill earlier in the year that was passed, but the Senate rejected it in order to make their own. Both of these bills have been met with a great deal of protest from the American public, including sit ins in the Senate by people who would likely lose their healthcare if the bill passed.
“People are angry, and with good reason,” said Skylar Baker-Jordan, a writer and activist, in an opinion piece for The Independent. “The Congressional Budget Office scored the latest iteration of the Republicans’ plan and found it would leave 22 million people uninsured.”
The Senate continued to plan through any protests and was given support by Republican senators. Republicans hold the majority in the Senate at 53 to 48, but this small lead meant that only 3 senators could defect from supporting the bill before it would fail. During the Senate vote on Tuesday, two Republican senators defected.
“Senator @lisamurkowski of the Great State of Alaska really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday,” tweeted President Trump in response to Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voting against the bill.
The vote’s small margin would have cost the approval to move forward if it was not for Arizona Senator John McCain.
McCain, who was recently diagnosed with glioblastoma, traveled to the Senate in order to participate in the vote less than two weeks after having surgery to remove a brain tumor. His quicker-than-expected return was to make sure vote was pushed through in order to provide momentum for a bill that was said to have been dying.
McCain’s arrival tied the vote and Vice President Mike Pence broke a tie roll call with a vote to proceed with the bill. In the end, all 48 Democrats voted against the bill, as did 2 Republicans, while 51 Republicans voted for the bill. Despite the partisan nature of this vote, McCain took to the floor to speak against the partisan culture that has developed in American politics.
“I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered,” McCain said. “I will not vote for the bill as it is today.”
Since the vote, the Senate has also voted on a plan to repeal Obamacare without replacing it. This plan was rejected on Wednesday, July 26.
“BREAKING:” tweeted the Associated Press, “Senate rejects Republican plan to repeal Obama health law and leave replacement for later, in second blow to GOP.”
At this time, 71 percent of Americans say that they would prefer to see Republicans work with Democrats to improve the ACA, rather than to repeal and replace. This unpopularity has led to many representatives saying that they will vote against the plan if it doesn’t reflect the needs of their states.