Senate Democrats stepped up, and they saved Obamacare

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Sure, the trio of Republican defectors in the Senate—Collins, McCain, and Murkowski—are getting lots of plaudits for standing up to leadership to kill Trumpcare. But what absolutely has to be recognized and applauded is the unity of Senate Democrats throughout.

Start with the five Democrats who are all up for re-election in 2018 in states Trump won by more than 20 points: Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Jon Tester of Montana. Five more are also in states that Trump won but by smaller margins: Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, Bill Nelson in Florida, and Debbie Stabenow in Michigan. Not one of them gave an inch in working with McConnell to undermine Obamacare. Not one of their votes—even in procedural motions—were in question throughout the process.

Thank Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Patty Murray of

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So, McConnell—about that promise to start shoring up Obamacare markets …

Three weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made what he considered his worst threat: if the Senate Republicans didn’t pass an Affordable Care Act repeal, they would have to work with Democrats on fixing it.

“If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur,” McConnell said. “No action is not an alternative. We’ve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country, including in this state.”

Over-the-top rhetoric aside, it’s time to fulfill that promise. Insurance markets are NOT imploding all over the place, but popular vote loser Donald Trump is going to do his damnedest to make it happen.

Democrats are more than ready with their ideas for strengthening the ACA. Democratic leader Chuck Schumer laid out a few this morning, including resolving the issue of cost-sharing reduction payments that

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Mitch McConnell’s best efforts to destroy the Senate fail—for now

Last night Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and John McCain delivered a reprieve not just for millions of people whose health care hung in the balance, but for the institution of the Senate and maybe even the republic. It’s impossible to overstate just how not normal this whole fiasco has been. Every false charge Republicans ever leveled against the process Democrats were forced to resort to in order to pass the Affordable Care Act in the first place became the blueprint for how they proceeded over the past months.

The first lie was that Republicans were entirely shut out of the process of crafting Obamacare. That lie has persisted for eight years, since meetings—bipartisan meetings—began on Obamacare in 2009. Just to recap that process, the Senate Health Committee had 60 hours of debate and mark-up for the bill, then the Finance Committee took it up and spent eight days

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Watch and listen to the audible gasps as McCain gives the thumbs down next to a scowling McConnell

Like thieves in the night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his health care raiders were set to vote on a “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act. McConnell scheduled a vote on the “Health Care Freedom Act” (which would serve as a way to free tens of millions from having affordable health insurance) only 45 minutes after releasing the text of the bill. In the end, Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski held strong in their opposition, knowing the damage this bill would do to their constituents back home. Even though they withstood tremendous pressure for weeks, including threats from other legislators, it was Arizona Sen. John McCain who rode in to hammer the final nail in this ill-conceived bill’s coffin.

Watch the video below to see him give a thumbs down while standing only a few feet from a scowling Mitch McConnell, and listen to the audible gasps in

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Mitch McConnell is a sad, sad turtle

Mitch McConnell clearly did not have a speech ready for this moment. McConnell was carrying only the “happy” envelope as Republicans called Mike Pence down to the Senate fully expecting that they had the votes they needed to pass the “skinny repeal.”

They didn’t.

And in the aftermath of the vote, McConnell was forced to admit that he was out of ideas. Out of options. And that, worst of all, the only option remaining to Republicans was to … work with the Democrats.

McConnell stumbled though a mumbled, downbeat speech in which he said he’d “like to hear their ideas, I really would.” And now, he will.

Finally, McConnell delivered a line that clearly cost him dearly … “No more votes tonight.”

More than just the defeat of an awful bill, this was a massive slap in the face to McConnell’s unprecedented short-circuiting of Senate process.


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In shocker, Senate Republicans fail to strip health care from millions in dead of night

A remarkable thing happened in the Senate tonight. Enough Republican Senators realized that they could stop a bill that they did not want to become law by voting against it. The skinny Trumpcare bill failed, 49-51, when Republican Sens. Susan Collins (ME), John McCain (AZ), and Lisa Murkowski (AK) voted no. We might have to say nice things about McCain for a while. Stupid Sen. Dean Heller (NV), who has the most to lose, did not take this opportunity and voted with his leader.

Enough Senate Republicans decided that they couldn’t use the excuse House Speaker Paul Ryan gave them in his half-hearted endorsement of the House and Senate going to a conference committee to vote for this thing. They didn’t want to  kick sixteen million people off of their health insurance next year. Or maybe they were just embarrassed by the whole dismal farce of a legislative process this whole

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CBO scores skinny Trumpcare: 16 million lose coverage, premiums increase 20 percent by next year

We’ve got skinny Trumpcare or Zombie Trumpcare 5.0—or the John McCain Surrenders the Last Shreds of His Integrity bill—finally on the floor and the CBO worked fast to figure out what it’s going to do.

What it’s going to do is kick 16 million people out of their health insurance in the next year. An election year. Because the bill doesn’t include Medicaid, by some miracle, the loss of insurance is somewhat curtailed compared to other bills the Republicans have been struggling with.  Besides that, it’s going to increase premiums in the non-group market “by roughly 20 percent relative to current law in all years between 2018 and 2026.” It’s also going to mean a death spiral kicks in, because as fewer healthy people sign up, the higher premiums go and more insurers leave the markets.

That’s as it stands now. The House may or may not decide to

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John McCain and friends demand that Paul Ryan doesn’t let the bill they want to pass become law

Sens. John McCain (R-AZ_, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) all really, really don’t want the skinny Trumpcare bill they are going to vote on in the coming hours to become law. They really, really hate it. They just held a press conference to say so.
Johnson says “‘virtually nothing we’re doing in any of these bills’ are keeping their promise to fix the problems with health care.” Graham called it a “fraud,” “disaster,” “pig in a poke” and also “half-assed.” McCain, again, said they needed some bipartisanship here.

So they’re all voting against it, right? Wrong.

This whole exercise was to say that they are going to vote for this bill just as long as House Speaker Paul Ryan promises he won’t let it become law. They are demanding a bipartisan conference committee with input from all the governors. And what will

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Senate Republicans continue to pretend like McConnell isn’t totally screwing them on Trumpcare

The wheels are falling off this thing we call Congress over Trumpcare, and it’s all going to come down to whether anyone can trust Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Which means we, as a nation, are fucked. At the lunch today in which Senate Republicans were supposed to be writing the next iteration of the bill—the one that leadership said would pass tonight—the discussion instead was “focused on whether they can be assured House won’t pass skinny, will conference. Senate doesn’t want it to become law.”

Just let that sink in: they don’t want the bill they are about to pass—the bill that they promised was coming for the last fucking seven years—to become law. From what it looks like, McConnell made that promise to them.


A helluva way to run a government: House, Senate, Republicans in utter chaos over Trumpcare

We’ve seen an awful lot of chaos on repealing Obamacare, that thing that was going to happen on day one of the Trump administration. Seven years after Republicans vowed to repeal it and seven months into 2017 and Senate Republicans might have cobbled together a bill over lunch that might just be a shell to go to conference with the House, or might be the bill the House passes, and it might get enough votes or it might not depending on if anyone knows what they’re doing. Maybe?

This is a story that can only be told in tweets.



Is Nevada Sen. Dean Heller going to continue to hit himself over the head with bad Trumpcare votes?

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, the most vulnerable Senate Republican in 2018, had a very, very bad Wednesday—downright humiliating. After getting totally bashed by state activists for his caving in to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and voting to move forward with a bill to strip health coverage away from tens of thousands of Nevadans, he decided he’d better do something—and something stupidly symbolic was all he could come up with.

That was an amendment “To express the sense of the Senate that Medicaid expansion is a priority and that Obamacare must be improved.” It was defeated 10-90. That’s just humiliating. His attempt was so obviously shallow and stupid that only 10 of his colleagues were wiling to embarrass themselves by associating with it.

Meanwhile, Heller declared he would happily back a “skinny repeal” of Obamacare as long as it left Medicaid intact. “We’ll see at the end of the day what’s

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Senate Parliamentarian nixes ACA regulation waivers in skinny Trumpcare: Will McConnell go nuclear?

The Senate parliamentarian has ruled out another part of the plan Senate Republicans have for their skinny repeal/Trumpcare proposal. The provision saying states could waive Obamacare’s essential health benefits regulations is nixed.

If it’s going to happen, it’s going to have to get 60 votes—and that’s not going to happen. So, if they want to keep those waivers and undo regulations, which the hard-right extremists like Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz insist on ending, they’ve got to figure out a radically different way of doing it.

Or McConnell blows up the Senate again, as the extremists have been goading him to do for months. He could ask the Senate president—in this case Vice President Pence, who would be in the chair when the bill came up—to overrule the parliamentarian. But then the Senate would have to vote on it, and McConnell would have to get 50 of his colleagues to agree

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McCain says the health and lives of millions of Americans aren’t as important as his defense bill

Arizona Sen. John McCain made his position on whatever it is the Senate is doing today on Affordable Care Act repeal and Trumpcare very clear in an exchange with Sen. Chuck Schumer Thursday morning: just get done with this so we can get to what matters—McCain’s defense authorization bill.

Schumer had just declared his intention, now that Republicans apparently are actually intent on passing their skinny repeal bill, to have “numerous” amendments, and “many more” amendments after the bill hits the floor. He also made clear he wasn’t going to give consent to bring up McCain’s defense authorization bill in the middle of this massive healthcare fiasco.

That apparently enraged McCain (which isn’t hard to do) because he wants to just set aside this whole taking health insurance away from millions of people thing so that they can get to what matters. “I believe,” he told Schumer, “that our obligation to the

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Planned Parenthood defunding reportedly back in ‘skinny repeal’ proposal

One of the things scratched on the napkin Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be taking into lunch today, where a cabal of Republican senators apparently plan on writing their Obamacare repeal bill, is Planned Parenthood defunding. But wait, you say, didn’t the Senate Parliamentarian already say they couldn’t do that without 60 votes? Yes, she did. Nevertheless, they are persisting. According to Axios, this is the working list they’re taking into lunch.

  • Individual mandate repeal
  • Partial repeal of the employer mandate
  • A one-year defunding of Planned Parenthood
  • More money for community health centers
  • A provision addressing the ACA’s 1332 innovation waivers. The Senate replacement bill would have made them much more flexible, allowing ACA regulations like essential health benefits to be waived. It’s unclear how much more flexible they’ll be under skinny repeal, especially because it remains unclear whether the original expanded waivers complied with budget rules.

They’re going to have

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Republicans decide to write new ‘skinny repeal’ over lunch, have final vote tonight

So I wonder what Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), has to say about this departure from “regular order”?


Oh, it gets better.


They’re writing the bill they will pass tonight at lunch today. Oh, and because they won’t have time for the Congressional Budget Office to score it, they’ll score it themselves, because sure why the hell not? 

I’m sure McCain is going to go to that lunch today and refuse to go along with this travesty, right? 

JAM THE PHONE LINES. Call your Senator at (202) 224-3121 and tell them repealing Obamacare is SICK, MEAN and CRUEL.  (After you call, please tell us how it went.)

Schumer calls Trumpcare process a ‘sham,’ says Democrats won’t be a part of it

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has declared the Trumpcare process in the Senate a “sham” and says that Democrats will not participate in it by offering any more amendments until “the majority leader shows his hand, reveals what his bill will actually be,” at which time, “Democrats will use the opportunity to try and amend the bill.”

We know the Republicans are not going to take a final vote on the underlying house bill, which is still the pending legislation. And now the Republican leadership team has been telling the press about a yet to be disclosed final bill. If the reports are true, the Republicans will offer a skinny repeal plan. […]
If the reporting is accurate and skinny repeal is their plan, it makes premiums far higher than they are today. We don’t know if skinny repeal is going to be their final bill.

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Republicans prove that not having a Trumpcare plan is more popular than having one

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul got the thing he wanted most on Wednesday (after several hours’ delay wrangling over rules): a vote on a “clean” repeal of Obamacare. It was telling that Democrats didn’t even bother to raise a rules objection on this vote, instead moving it forward to a straight passage vote which, of course, lost 45-55 with seven senators voting against it. Those senators were Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Dean Heller of Nevada, Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona, Rob Portman Ohio, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Here’s kind of a pathetic thing about that:


Yep, the replacement plan—the one that caused so much angst and negotiating and infighting—only got 43 votes.

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Republicans admit it: ‘Skinny repeal’ is a Trojan horse to turn Trumpcare over to the House

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Texas Sen. John Cornyn freely admits it: the whole strategy guiding the Senate this week is passing any damned thing they can so that they can take it to the House in conference, then cook up whatever they feel like—with a minimum of input from anyone outside of that room.

The No. 2 Senate Republican told reporters Wednesday that a scaled-down, “skinny” bill “seems to have a lot of benefits, getting us to conference.” […]
Cornyn noted that new Senate ideas — such as Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) amendment to let insurers sell plans outside of ObamaCare’s regulations and Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) amendment to add $100 billion to help people losing Medicaid afford private coverage — could be included and could help pave the way for a deal in the conference committee.

“We use the template of the House bill that addresses all of these issues

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Senate parliamentarian nixes two more Republican Trumpcare ideas

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The Senate parliamentarian has knocked out two more of the big ideas Senate Republicans included in their Trumpcare replacement bill, but cleared a scary one.

The Senate parliamentarian has ruled that more provisions of the Better Care Reconciliation Act—the Senate’s Affordable Care Act replacement bill—don’t comply with budget rules, meaning they’d need 60 votes to pass. These include a provision allowing insurers to charge older people more in premiums than under current law—the provision AARP has called an “age tax”—and the provision allowing small businesses to sell “association health plans,” an important GOP priority.
However, the provision allowing states to choose to receive a Medicaid block grant, rather than a per-person funding cap, does comply with budget rules, meaning it only needs 50 votes like the rest of the bill.

There’s two more things that the parliamentarian says won’t work, along with a raft of others including the

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Senate Republicans move on to Trumpcare chaos with one goal in mind: giving it up to the House

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Repeal and replace was roundly rejected by the Senate in its second procedural vote in the Trumpcare fiasco Tuesday night, 43-57. Nine Republicans, ranging from Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on the right to Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) on the almost-falling-off-the-spectrum right voted with Democrats on this proxy vote for the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The actual question before the senators was whether to vote with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in waiving the budget rules to allow his amendment to be voted on, but it served as a rejection of the BCRA in this form.

There could be other forms of the BCRA coming according to Senate Republican aides who told Axios a simpler version such as the one the Congressional Budget Office scored is possible. The next major vote the Senate will take is kind of figured out, on the

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