Why Trumpcare Critics Are Sounding the Alarm

July 24th 2017

Kyle Jaeger

Thought Trumpcare was dead? Think again.


A procedural vote on the Senate health care plan to repeal and/or replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is scheduled for Tuesday. It's unclear how the vote will go, but critics of the plan aren't taking any chances, urging voters to contact their representatives and speak out against the latest effort to get rid of Obamacare.

Though news reports last week pronounced the death of the Senate health care effort due to a lack of support for a straight repeal, that may have been premature. President Donald Trump and Senate leaders have since begun pushing for a vote and threatening Republicans who don't go along. What the vote would accomplish, beyond moving an indeterminate bill forward, is anybody's guess.

"For the last seven years, Republicans have been united in standing up for Obamacare's victims," Trump said during a speech Monday. "Remember repeal and replace, repeal and replace? They kept saying it over and over again. Every Republican running for office promised immediate relief from this disastrous law."

If Senate Republicans get 51 votes to proceed with their health reform agenda—using an expedited process called budget reconciliation—lawmakers will be able to propose an unlimited number of amendments, all of which must be voted on. If that happens, it's uncertain what would become of the bill because senators on both sides could hypothetically introduce amendments that could fundamentally alter the legislation, ulimately making it unpalatable.

If they fail to get 51 votes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not be able to hold another procedural vote and the bill's critics "can exhale," Ben Wikler, Washington director of the progressive group MoveOn, explained in a tweet thread on Monday. 

​Wikler called for voters to apply "constant, maximum pressure" on their representatives to vote "no" in the hours left before the proposal reaches the floor.

There's a lack of clarity around Tuesday's vote that has some lawmakers confused. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), for instance, told Fox News that members of the Senate have "no earthly idea what we will be voting on."

"Last week they said we're going to vote on a clean repeal," Paul said. "I said 'hooray, that's what we promised.' Now I'm told it may be the new Senate leadership bill, which is a big insurance bailout that I'm not for and doesn't repeal Obamacare. So nobody has told us."

So far, only one of the four Senate Republicans who helped kill last week's repeal vote have committed to voting against the motion to proceed on Tuesday, with Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) all still on the fence.