CD157: Failure to Repeal

Process: It matters. During the first seven months of the 115th Congress, the Republicans tried – in multiple ways – to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act. We already know what they were trying to do; in this episode, hear the full story of how they tried to get their bills passed into law. Later in the episode, we also do a quick summary of what to expect in September as deadlines related to flood insurance, government funding, marijuana, and many other topics loom.


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Additional Reading


References


Sound Clip Sources

Briefing: House Speaker Weekly Briefing, July 27, 2017.

Timestamps & Transcripts

Senate Session: Senate Leaders Speak Ahead of Health Care Vote, July 25, 2017.

Sound Clip Transcripts

  • Senator Chuck Schumer (NY): Many of us on this side of the aisle have waited for years for this opportunity and thought it would probably never come. Some of us were a little surprised by the election last year, but with a surprise election comes great opportunities to do things we thought were never possible. So all we have to do today is to have the courage to begin the debate with an open amendment process and let the voting take us where it will.
  • Senator John McCain (AZ): Our system doesn’t depend on our nobility. It accounts for our imperfections and gives us an order to our individual strivings that has helped make ours the most powerful and prosperous society on Earth. It is our responsibility to preserve that, and even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than winning, even when we must give a little to get a little, even when our efforts managed just 3 yards in a cloud of dust while critics on both sides denounced us for timidity, for our failure to triumph. I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and, by so doing, better serve the people who elected us. Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood. Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We have been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides: mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that it requires. We are getting nothing done, my friends. We’re getting nothing done. And all we’ve really done this year is confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Our healthcare insurance system is a mess. We all know it—those who support Obamacare and those who oppose it. Something has to be done. We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven’t found it yet, and I’m not sure we will. All we’ve managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular when we started trying to get rid of it. I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered. I will not vote for this bill as it is today. It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that.
  • Senator Dick Durbin (IL): But there was an interesting thing happened at the end of this. At the very last moment, the very last vote that was cast was cast by Senator John McCain. Everybody knows that John is diagnosed with a serious form of cancer. He made it back from Arizona here to cast his vote, and he asked for 15 minutes after the roll call to make a speech. I don’t think many, if any, senators left the Chamber. Democrats and Republicans stuck around to hear his speech after the vote. Can I tell you that’s unusual in the Senate? Most of us race for the doors and go up to our offices and watch on television and may catch a piece of that speech and a piece of the other speech, but we sat and we listened because of our respect for John McCain.
  • Senator Ron Wyden (OR): Mr. President, the pitch to Republican Senators this afternoon before the first vote was that it was nothing but a little bit of throat clearing — just a first step to get the conversation started. Let’s be clear, nobody can pretend the stakes aren’t real now. In a few minutes, the Senate will be voting on yet another version of the Senate TrumpCare bill. I call it the BCRA 3.0. It features a special gut punch to consumer protection offered by Senator Cruz.
  • Senator Ron Wyden (OR): There was no hearing in the finance committee, no hearing in the HELP committee. Senators are flying in the dark, and as far as I can tell, the proposal is going to be before us without having been scored by the CBO.
  • Senator Ted Cruz (TX): And the Consumer Freedom Amendment was designed to bring together and serve as a compromise for those who support the mandates in Title One. The Consumer FreedomAmendment says that insurance companies, if they offer plans that meet those Title One mandates—all the protections for preexisting conditions—they can also sell any other plan that consumers desire.
Senate Session: Debate on American Health Care Act, July 26, 2017.

Sound Clip Transcripts

  • Senator Rand Paul (KY): Today we will vote on a bill we voted on many times. The Senate itself voted on this two years ago. It’s the identical bill. We’re going to vote on a bill we voted two years ago, and I hope everybody that voted for it before will vote for it again. It’s what we call a clean repeal. It’s not cluttered with insurance-company bailouts, it’s not cluttered with this and that and new federal regulations; it is just trying to peel back Obamacare. Now while it is a clean repeal, it is only a partial repeal. Why? It’s only a partial repeal because we have these arcane Senate rules that say we can’t repeal the whole thing. Because we’re only repealing part of it, Obamacare will remain.
  • Senator Rand Paul (KY): My government shouldn’t be telling what I can buy and what I cannot buy. My government should not tell me which doctor I can choose and which doctor I have to leave behind. The government should not be involved in my healthcare business. I want to be left alone. The right to privacy, the right to be left alone, is a fundamental right of Americans. That’s what this is about.
  • Senator Rand Paul (KY): So, are we going to have some government involvement? Yes. But because government is so pitiful at anything they do, we should minimize government’s involvement in any industry.
  • Senator John Cornyn (TX): People keep talking about a secret process. Well, this is about as open and transparent as it gets, and everybody will have an opportunity to offer an amendment, to discuss what’s in the amendment, and to vote on it.
Senate Session: Resumed Debate on American Health Care Act, July 27, 2017.

Sound Clip Transcripts

  • Senator Chuck Schumer (NY): Mr. President, it is likely, at some point today, we will finally see the majority leader’s final health care bill, the bill he intends to either pass or fail. Thus far, we have been going through a pretense, defeating Republican bills that never had enough support even within their own caucus to pass. Repeal and replace has failed. Repeal without replace has failed. Now we are waiting to see what the majority leader intends for the Republican plan on health care. If the reports in the media are true, the majority leader will offer a skinny repeal as his final proposal.

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