September 22, 2017

Senator John McCain just released a lengthy statement about the horrendous Graham-Cassidy attempt to kill more of us, telling the country he intends to vote against it, should it ever be brought to the floor for a vote.

As he has repeatedly stressed, he's not interested in ramming through a repeal of a health care law which has not gone through regular order. Here is the text of his statement.

“As I have repeatedly stressed, health care reform legislation ought to be the product of regular order in the Senate. Committees of jurisdiction should mark up legislation with input from all committee members, and send their bill to the floor for debate and amendment. That is the only way we might achieve bipartisan consensus on lasting reform, without which a policy that affects one-fifth of our economy and every single American family will be subject to reversal with every change of administration and congressional majority.

“I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case. Instead, the specter of September 30th budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process.

“We should not be content to pass health care legislation on a party-line basis, as Democrats did when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009. If we do so, our success could be as short-lived as theirs when the political winds shift, as they regularly do. The issue is too important, and too many lives are at risk, for us to leave the American people guessing from one election to the next whether and how they will acquire health insurance. A bill of this impact requires a bipartisan approach.

“Senators Alexander and Murray have been negotiating in good faith to fix some of the problems with Obamacare. But I fear that the prospect of one last attempt at a strictly Republican bill has left the impression that their efforts cannot succeed. I hope they will resume their work should this last attempt at a partisan solution fail.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.

“I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition. Far from it. The bill’s authors are my dear friends, and I think the world of them. I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs and sense of what is best for the country. So am I.

“I hope that in the months ahead, we can join with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to arrive at a compromise solution that is acceptable to most of us, and serves the interests of Americans as best we can.”

There was a bipartisan bill being crafted by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, but Mitch McConnell killed it, and I doubt it will return anytime soon.

Here is what Republicans in Congress are doing: They are terrorizing us. Every time they bring one of these bills to the front, they are engaging in legislative terrorism. Every time.

Until we toss them out along with their billionaires, the zombie effort to repeal the ACA and kill us all will continue to terrorize us.

In the meantime, the resistance is strong and effective. Senator Collins all but announced her opposition earlier when she observed that G-C would not protect people with pre-existing conditions. Senator Lisa Murkowski was the target of intense lobbying, to the point where an offer was made to leave Alaska's Obamacare alone while taking it from everyone else. Chances are she, too, is a no.

The thing is, I'm betting there are lots of Senators who are "no" votes on this legislation. It's just that Senator McCain is taking the fire for them, because he can. Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania are a few. Also Nevada's Dean Heller, who will likely be the biggest loser in the healthcare wars, given that his name is on this version of repeal. The worst and most horrible version. The one that does the most harm to Nevada. Yep, it's not looking good for Heller, for sure.

Until September 30th passes, we can't let down our guard. But Senator McCain's announcement at least gives us some room to breathe and hope this bill will never see the Senate floor.

Update: We are still counting votes. But this bodes well.

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