The Cloak and Dagger Congress
If you believe the tweets, the Senate has begun or will soon begin sending pieces of its health care reform proposal to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for the development of a fiscal analysis, or “score.” Unlike the House, which passed the American Health Care Act prior to the release of an updated score, the Senate must have a CBO score on any bill it seeks to bring up on the floor. So far, no leaks have occurred, so unless you’re in a very small, not very diverse-looking group of Senators or their staff, you’re in the dark just like me.
It’s widely believed that upon gathering the necessary votes — whatever must be done in order to do so — the Senate will take up the bill on the floor without having a single hearing or mark-up session and without publicly considering amendments. This is breathtaking in its audacity and the degree to which it demonstrates the tone-deafness of the Senate. Specifically:
- In 2010, the Senate adopted the Affordable Care Act in the second year of President Obama’s term, after holding approximately 100 hearings, roundtables, walkthroughs and other meetings, and after 25 consecutive days in continuous session debating the bill.
- The popularity of the House-passed AHCA, which was never beloved, dropped further after it was passed, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll in early May. A May 10 article reported that only 38 percent of voters approved of the GOP-drafted health care bill, the new poll shows — down from 42 percent immediately prior to the House’s party-line vote. And by that time, 44 percent of voters outright disapproved of the bill, up from 37 percent in April.
In their zeal to eliminate the most comprehensive health coverage system this country has ever known, the Senate (like the House before it) risks alienating a majority of the country, including many of its own voters. The town hall meetings where reliable Republican voters have shared their family health care stories and urged their Senators and Representatives to preserve their coverage have fallen on deaf ears. Our own California Republican Caucus voted as a bloc in the House, with none swayed by these pleas. It’s nearly unfathomable.
Please join us in demanding the Senate consider its legislation through an open and transparent process. It’s a core value of our government and one that should not be lightly forsaken. The millions of children and parents, persons with disabilities, and elders who rely on Medicaid and the coverage available through the federal and state exchanges deserve to at least know what’s coming at them — and to see first-hand how little those in control of Congress value their health and well-being.
What You Can Do
- If you’re from California, it’s worth a call to Senators Feinstein and Harris to ask them to stand firm and be vocal about wanting the bills to be released and considered through a public process. You may phone the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.
- If you’ve got friends or family in one of the states with targeted Senators (mostly moderates), urge them to do the same. Senators on the target list include:
- Collins (ME)
- Murkowski (AK)
- Heller (NV)
- Capito (WV)
- Flake (AZ)
- Portman (OH)
- Gardner (CO)
- Cassidy (LA)
- Toomey (PA)
- Check out the Community Catalyst Protect Medicaid Digital Action Toolkit for other ideas on how to take action on social media.