For once, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made his presence known when he brought a bill up for a vote, forcing Republicans to vote for or against protecting people with pre-existing conditions if the Supreme Court strikes it down. Not only that, but he tied the end of pre-existing conditions to the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Here's a little-known fact: Anyone can bring a bill up for a cloture vote in the Senate, not just Mitch McConnell. But that power is rarely used, because it's viewed as something that can shut down the Senate. It's time to shut the Senate down to block Barrett.
As for the bill, the strategic value in it is clear. "It's directly related to, we think, the critical issue both in the election and the Supreme Court nomination, which is the Republican efforts to destroy health care in a pandemic," Senator Tim Kaine explained to reporters Wednesday.
The final vote was 51-43, with several vulnerable Republican senators joining with Democrats, but falling short of the 60 votes needed to proceed to debate. Republicans voting for it were Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Joni Ernst and Martha McSally.
Going forward, this is what needs to happen. Schumer needs to force all kinds of votes, and he needs to make sure that no unanimous consent resolutions go forward, which would force Republicans to be present to vote, rather than campaigning in their states. Every single procedural stop needs to be pulled out now to block the confirmation vote on Trump's nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Joan McCarter agrees (my emphasis added):
Derailing Barrett's nomination is not going to be easy because McConnell has other tools, and he'll use them. Like piling on more judicial nominations. "We're prepared for that if they decide they want to use motions to adjourn or try and use the tools at their disposal to keep us here, that's fine,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune said Tuesday. "But that keeps them here too and what that means is we'll do more judges and more executive nominations that those guys don't like."
That "keeps them here too" bit? That's Thune acknowledging that the tactic is a problem for Republicans because so many of them are fighting for their political lives. Given that only one Democratic senator is really in danger—Alabama's Doug Jones—it's a gambit that doesn't hurt Democrats and is worth the effort. Keeping Republicans off the campaign trail is just icing on the making-McConnell's-life-hell cake.
Read this Center for American Progress report on what the state of our healthcare system will look like if the ACA is struck down in its entirety during a pandemic. It's devastating:
More than 20 million people would lose their health coverage, and more than 135 million people would lose protections for their preexisting conditions, including millions of COVID-19 survivors. Repealing the ACA in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic would create chaos across the entire health care system; weaken the country’s public health and economy recovery; and rip affordable health care coverage from millions of people at a time when access to health care services is absolutely essential.
So yes, Chuck Schumer. Every day, you have to force a vote. You have to make those senators stay in Washington, DC. Bring up another bill on pre-existing conditions. Bring up a bill on voter protections. Make them all take those hard votes. We'll be here to report on them. Every single day.
This vote is a big deal. 6 Republicans feel so much pressure that they supported SCHUMER'S cloture motion––a rare procedural tactic you would expect to be batted down when the minority tries it.
The pressure is working, as Barrett puts the ACA on the line. https://t.co/kBZ4UHGcBp
— Christopher Kang (@cdkang76) October 1, 2020
Here's CNN's report on the vote below: