Pivotal US healthcare votes swung by ailing Senators

It’s been a disastrous week for Donald Trump’s Presidency. I won’t the list the cataclysms because there are endless articles cataloguing them. This article does a very good job in summing up the situation.

What struck me was that a situation which led to the Affordable Care Act (ACA – “Obamacare”) becoming law was repeated as the Republican “Skinny Repeal” of the ACA failed in the US Senate early on Friday morning.

In the December 2009, the late Senator Robert Byrd, then 92 years-old with fragile health, was instrumental in passing the Affordable Care Act through several late night voting appearances in his wheelchair.

This week, 80 year-old John McCain, suffering from a brain tumour, made the 2,224 mile air trip from Arizona to Washington DC to be the crucial swing vote to kill off the ACA Skinny Repeal.

I’m not sure what this tells us about American democracy, but it is noticeable that these two pivotable moments were swung by Senators who had to make unusual efforts to get to the chamber.

We shouldn’t forget the role of Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who also voted against the Skinny Repeal.

Given the circumstances, the most remarkable thing is that the bill nearly passed. Michael Grunwald sums it up very well:

Forty-nine Republican senators voted for legislation that many of them admitted was substantively flawed and procedurally absurd—legislation that only 17 percent of the public supported and every major medical interest group opposed; that had been shredded by a bipartisan coalition of governors, the Congressional Budget Office and their own hand-picked parliamentarian.

After Trump promised to expand coverage, lower costs and block any cuts to Medicaid, he almost got to sign a bill that the CBO warned would do exactly the opposite, leading to a massive expansion of the insured rolls, higher premiums and deductibles for the old and the sick, and hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Medicaid cuts.

After attacking Democrats for ramming Obamacare into law with only 60 votes after insufficient hearings, insufficient bipartisan outreach, and insufficient transparency, Republican senators nearly passed Trumpcare with only 50 votes after no hearings, no bipartisan outreach, and so little transparency that even most of them had no idea what would be in it until a few hours before their middle-of-the-night roll call.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • John McCain is a hero

  • Mary Reid 31st Jul ’17 – 6:44am………John McCain is a hero…….

    Trumpmade McCain an personal enemy by his 2015, “”He’s not a war hero,” Trump said. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”…

    And, to be fair, Donald Trump has great experience of the US military. After all, 5 deferments from serving during the Vietnam war must be some kind of record…
    At first he was deferred as a College student (at college he was declared A1 and played football, tennis, squash and golf)…On leaving college he immediately discovered that he had ‘heel spurs’ which made even walking difficult….

    I’m sure he was eager to serve his country but…….

  • McCain is a decent civilised man, a hero twice over given his health issues at the present time.

    Trump is a empty vessel making a lot of discordant noise. He’s also very dangerous.

    “Nasty Man” by Joan Baez – YouTube

  • Lorenzo Cherin 31st Jul '17 - 6:50pm

    David Raw

    Our old antagonism was regular but fun at best maddening at worst , always humorous often, respectful .

    We seem to often or mostly agree, these days, the comments on the remarkable Senator, the only relatively liberal Republican left of prominence and the Joan Baez, yet again, yes, indeed,thanks !!

  • I knew that would get you, Lorenzo !! And don’t forget those brave Republican women, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska who withstood the bullying of the Republican majority to vote with John McCain.

    I have to admit John McCain gets my personal respect because he was a combat pilot – Dad was too – with the Typhoons of 175 Squadron in 1944/45 – but thankfully unlike many of his friends (and J.Mc) was never shot down – but I know what it took out of him (he just made 60) and I couldn’t have done it. Respect….. to J. Mc. – and zilch to five times draft dodger Trump D.

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