Well, they finally did it. After seven years of rabid obstruction and over 60 pointless Congressional votes, House Republicans have passed a bill that promises to strip away health insurance for over 24 million vulnerable Americans. Following a marathon week of threats and gamesmanship by President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, 217 Republican House members dutifully lined up behind a measure that will deliver almost a trillion dollars in tax cuts to their wealthiest constituents, while imposing equal cuts in Medicaid funding for seniors, the disabled, and financially struggling Americans. Among its uglier provisions, the American Health Care Act will once again allow insurance companies to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions—from people fighting HIV and depression to victims of rape and domestic abuse. And it permits insurers to scrap coverage for currently mandated services like hospitalization, addiction treatment, and prescription drugs.
What kind of party expends so much passion and money and political capital to snatch away basic health protections from their fellow Americans (while exempting themselves from their own cruelty?) A depressingly dishonest and morally bankrupt one: Trump and Ryan’s GOP. The Republican representatives who voted for this shameful measure have blood on their hands. At the moment, they’re toasting their success with Heinekens in the House cloakroom, but in the future, they’ll be tarred for their complicity. Healthcare is the defining battle for our country right now. They may have the power, momentarily, but the moral imperative is on our side.
Despite the billions that right-wing groups and lobbyists have pumped into this battle, AHCA passed by just two GOP votes. While about 20 vulnerable Republicans smartly backed away from this fight, 35 critical yes votes came from Republican representatives in swing districts. (The liberal activist group Swing Left compiled a helpful hit-list of these at-risk representatives, raising half-a-million dollars for their Democratic opponents in a single day.
Today’s measure still faces a Senate vote before it can be signed into law, but if you’re counting on Republican restraint in this polarized political climate, you’re bound to be disappointed. There’s no question, however, that Senate Republicans will be closely monitoring the fate of their craven House colleagues before they put their own seats on the line. So call your local GOP representatives, email them, stop by their offices. If you’re feeling frisky, maybe chain yourself to their front doors. Let them know that their votes have consequences. If ever there was a moment for civil disobedience, this is it.
It’s tempting to give into hopelessness at times like these, but despair is no defense against injustice. This battle is just beginning. So take names. Get energized. Get angry. Mobilize. Together we can forge victory from defeat.
Wondering how to get involved? Here are a few resources you may want to check out:
Swing Left – A national group that focuses attention on the most vulnerable Republican seats in the House and Senate and raises money for their Democratic opponents.
5Calls.org – This site offers an up-to-date list of important votes and issues and informs you where your local representatives stand on them. Look here to find emails and contact info for your local congresspeople (and scripts addressing various hot-button topics. All you do is input your zip code, and the interface guides you through the rest,
Town Hall Project –As Congress heads off on an eleven-day recess next week, find out when and where congressional representatives are holding their town halls, and get tips on how to make yourself heard.
Indivisible Project – The preeminent national guide to the anti-Trump resistance offers valuable tips to help you lobby members of congress through town halls, letter drives, public events, office visits, and mass telephone campaigns.