Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sen. Mazie Hirono speaks out against healthcare bill then undergoes surgery; vote delayed

In a meeting at the White House, it was probably no coincidence that Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, both of whom expressed reservations about Trumpcare, were seated on either side of Donald Trump.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO, D-Hawaii, had successful surgery on Tuesday to remove a rib lesion, the latest operation in her ongoing battle with stage-four kidney cancer.
The day before she underwent surgery, she spoke in the Senate chamber against the Trumpcare proposal being pitched by Senate leader Mitch McConnell as a replacement for Obamacare.

Anyone who has looked at the Republican Senate Healthcare plan knows that this is not a healthcare bill - it is a tax cut bill for the wealthiest Americans, said Hirono. “Trumpcare would be a disaster for the American people … healthcare is a right for everyone … we must fight against this mean, ugly bill.”

RELATED: Asian American senators blast GOP health plan
The bill would leave 22 million more Americans uninsured in 2026 than under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, said the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday. In addition, it would take a large portion of the Medicaid funding and give it to wealthy individuals and corporations.

As Hirono stated, the wealthy will benefit the most from the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The top one percent of households (who will be making $875,000 or more) are in line for an average tax cut of more than $45,000, raising their after-tax incomes by 2 percent. And those in the top 0.1 percent (who will be making $5 million or more) would receive an average tax cut of nearly $250,000, boosting their after-tax incomes by 2.5 percent.

Hirono's surgery went well, according to her staff. The Hawaii senator said that if need be, she would leave her sick bed and return to the Senate to vote against the bill.

Fortunately, she won't have to rush back because today (June 27). Senate leaders postponed the vote targeted before the July 4th break which starts Friday for a week. More senators expressed concern after the CBO report was released. The GOP would need 50 votes for a tie and supposedly Vice President Pence would vote to break the tie. 

Trumpcare losing support among Republicans

Three GOP votes would have to switch in order to defeat the bill. At last count, there are up to 12 Republican senators who said they could not support the bill as it is currently written.

At least four radical right senators said they would not vote for bill because it didn't go far enough to dismantle the ACA. Those four would join the so-called moderate Republicans who don't support the bill because of its proposed cuts to Medicaid and Planned Parenthood. 

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., the first moderate senator to oppose the legislation, has vowed to withhold support for the bill because of its cuts to Medicaid. “It’s going to be very difficult to get me to a yes,” Heller said Friday. “They have a lot of work to do.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced Monday she will vote no on a procedural motion to advance the bill in its current form. She strongly objects to the defunding of Planne Parenthood and said the Medicaid cuts would harm her state, 1 of 5 Maine residents depend on Medicaid.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Monday she doesn’t “have enough information” to vote in favor of the legislation, but has not yet firmly said she opposes it. “This is big stuff, and so making sure that we get it right is something that I have said is an imperative,” she said. She also objected to the Planned Parenthood cuts. 

The delay in the vote can give McConnell time to pressure those senators to change their vote. Some right-wing PACs said they would target those Republican senators opposed to the bill. McConnell reportedly also has $200M slush fund to dispense to change some mnds.

It will also give the Democrats, who are strongly against the GOP's Better Reconciliation Act and criticized the secret meetings that excluded their input and crafted the bill, time to reassure those Republicans on the fence or who have already cited their objections to the bill to stay strong and vote their conscience. GOP senators will be under tremendous pressure to go vote along party lines instead of voting what's good for the country.
Guide to protesting Trumpcare

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., in an opinion piece for the Lenny Letter blog outlined a guide to opposing the Senate BCRA and urged people to make their voices heard, "because this is not a drill," she said.

It was ordinary people writing and calling their representatives that prevented the House version from coming to a vote and they can do it again, said the Indian/American senator.
"This week, we have a chance to defeat it again. And every one of us needs to speak up and speak out.
"If your senator opposes the bill, thank them and ask them to continue doing everything possible to stop it. Reach out to friends in states with senators who are still on the fence. Maybe even have some tough conversations with friends or family members who oppose the bill about the actions they should take to make sure it gets defeated
"If your senator supports the bill or is undecided, explain how this bill will impact you or your loved ones. Tell your story. Tell them that if they vote for people to lose their health care, they should — and will — lose their jobs.
"Be persistent, be passionate, and be persuasive."