The Senate hurtles toward disaster [Update: First major vote fails]

  

UPDATE: Following their successful vote on the motion to proceed, Senate Republican leadership saw a subsequent vote on a bill with amendments from Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rob Portman (R-OH) fail. Votes are scheduled to resume Wednesday morning.


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By the thinnest possible margin, Senate Republicans voted today to begin debate on their various proposals repealing and possibly replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), each of which would strip coverage from millions of Americans and devastate our country’s health care system.

Only Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) chose to break with their party, listen to their constituents, and reject these dangerous plans. We’re hopeful that their courageous example will influence their colleagues to do the same as more pivotal votes are taken.

The 20 hours of floor debate that now follow will likely take up the rest of the week, with multiple votes expected on the different bills in play. Here’s where we stand:

  • First, Senators will debate then vote on a repeal of the ACA without a replacement. This is widely expected to fail, but will still take place after being guaranteed to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in exchange for his yes vote on today’s motion to proceed.
  • Debate will then move to a modified version of the Better Care and Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which is also expected to fail due to last-minute changes that mean the bill must pass with 60 (rather than 50) votes, per Senate parliamentary procedure.
  • The Senate would then begin what’s known as vote-a-rama, with amendments from Democrats and Republicans under consideration, most likely to the House bill (the American Health Care Act, or AHCA) in the event that the previous two bills fail to pass. The final bill that results from this process will also have difficulty garnering a majority of yes votes.
  • The final expected vote will then consider a substitute put forward by Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and which will include a simplified version of the plan Republicans actually want to pass.
  • If successful, that bill would then be taken up by a conference of negotiators from both the House and Senate, in the hopes of producing final legislation that both chambers could pass.
  • As with today’s motion to proceed, Vice President Pence will be on hand to break any 50-50 tie.

Once again, the lack of understanding around the final plan Republicans hope to pass is a sad commentary on a process that’s been anything but transparent, and has failed to give the American people a clear idea of the ramifications both for themselves and the country’s health care system.

All nurses should urge their Senators to oppose this undemocratic process and reject the idea that reforming health care should be done in secret. We also continue to urge residents in the following states to push heavily on those Senators who have publicly expressed concern about the impact of these proposals on their constituents’ care:

  • Alaska – Sen. Murkowski
  • Arizona – Sens. Flake and McCain
  • Louisiana – Sen. Cassidy
  • Ohio – Sen. Portman
  • Nevada – Sen. Heller
  • West Virginia – Sen. Capito

Click here to make your call now. Together, we can still win this battle.

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