Last month, before the U.S. Senate decided to punt on a health care vote, union leaders, elected officials and activists gathered in Capitol Hill demanding that the government save health care.
The event included members of the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Federation of Teachers, MomsRising, UltraViolet, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and other organization along with elected officials such as U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Bernie Sanders and Debbie Stabenow.
“We’re standing in the heat, but we need to put some heat on the folks in this building,” Stabenow told the crowd. She added “[To] have a bill that now affects one-fifth of the economy going through in this secret way [and] being jammed through the Senate and impacting every single American without one hearing is outrageous. No hearing. No vote.”
With a handful of Republican senators holding out on voting in favor of the plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to not have a vote at all.
Randi Weingarten, AFT president, said the American Health Care Act would put families in a dangerous predicament.
“The GOP leaders in the Senate are secretly pushing through a bill that is ripping health care away from millions of Americans, driving up costs for families and hurting children and the elderly, in order to give a tax cut to the wealthy,” Weingarten in a statement. “They know the American people hated the House Republicans’ move to pass a similar bill, so the only way to get it done is by ramming through a secret bill and upending the basic rules of our democracy. We’re here to shine a light on this underhanded effort to force through a catastrophic bill; we need to prevent Senate Republicans from returning us to a time when an American could be one pre-existing condition away from bankruptcy.”
“Republican Senators are launching an assault on the health care of 23 million Americans, and they don’t even have the courage to do it in broad daylight,” added Valerie Ervin, senior adviser at Working Families Party, in a statement. “We need every American to call their senator and tell them to oppose this bill.”
Other elected officials have come into the fold to weigh in on McConnell and Senate Republicans pushing their health care plan in secret. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said the Republicans should work with Democrats on improving the ACA and not dismantling it entirely.
“Obamacare is not perfect and it is far too expensive for many in our state,” said Gillibrand in a statement. “I stand ready to work in a bipartisan manner to make improvements to the law that would benefit New Yorkers. Specifically, I believe that all New Yorkers should be able to buy into Medicare at a price they can afford.”
But the senator was quick to warn activists about celebrating early like they did when the House couldn’t initially reach a deal.
“Health care in America should be a right, not a privilege,” stated Gillibrand. “The decision to pull back a vote on the disastrous GOP health care bill was the right one. But make no mistake, just like the House of Representatives did after their initial failure, I take Majority Leader McConnell at his word that he will bring the bill back to the floor.”