In my last post, I joked that voters don’t like to read. Well, the same can be said about some members of Congress and the Senate. Simply searching through our records of public statements, you’ll find calls to vote just days after a bill is finalized. This practice is so common that one senator has even re-introduced a “Read the Bills” resolution—most recently in response to the health care debate.
With such a rushed process, it’s inevitable that voters may feel out of touch with what is going on in the capitol. Lucky for you, and frankly for me, we have researchers who read and summarize bills so that you and I don’t have to.
Exhibit A: the national healthcare debate has caused major confusion. For the past few weeks, headline after headline announced the Senate healthcare bill was dead—only to be followed by another headline stating otherwise.
On July 25, your social media feed was likely filled with victory cries from those seeking to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the still-evolving Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Opponents also took to social media with messages of defeat. However, the debate is anything but finished.
So what’s actually going on with the Senate healthcare bill? Is the Affordable Care Act repealed? And, what is the Senate voting on?
Well, it’s tricky, so bear with me—I’m not even sure if someone currently voting in the capitol can easily explain where the debate stands. I’ll simplify the issue and provide a brief timeline of how we got to where we are today.
On July 25, 2017, the Senate voted on a motion to proceed—simply put, they voted to continue the conversation on the healthcare bill. After a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Pence, the motion passed. This is what made headlines earlier in the day. But this was not a total victory for proponents of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA)—the Senate version of the AHCA that passed the US House in May.
They voted to debate the bill and to vote on a series of amendments put forward by senators. Later that evening, however, the Senate voted for an amendment to replace the AHCA with the BCRA, which would, in turn, amend and repeal parts of the ACA—I’m aware that there are a lot of acronyms but we may have to get used to them. The amendment did not pass as it received 57 no votes to just 43 yes votes. You can find the full breakdown of the vote here.
The following day, on July 26, 2017, the Senate also failed to pass the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017. Had the vote passed, this amendment would have repealed the ACA without an immediate replacement—as previously proposed by President Trump and Mitch McConnell.
But this is an ongoing debate, so before more headlines flood your feed and more amendments are voted on, take some time to catch up. Below is a brief timeline of key events, public statements, and tweets from the President that have led up to these votes.
May 4, 2017
The US House of Representatives narrowly passed the American Health Care Act of 2017 by a vote of 217-213.
It was a GREAT day for the United States of America! This is a great plan that is a repeal & replace of ObamaCare. Make no mistake about it.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2017
Republican Senators will not let the American people down! ObamaCare premiums and deductibles are way up - it was a lie and it is dead! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2017
May 16, 2017
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized the American Health Care Act.
Hopefully Republican Senators, good people all, can quickly get together and pass a new (repeal & replace) HEALTHCARE bill. Add saved $'s. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
Big meeting today with Republican leadership concerning Tax Cuts and Healthcare. We are all pushing hard - must get it right! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
2 million more people just dropped out of ObamaCare. It is in a death spiral. Obstructionist Democrats gave up, have no answer = resist! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2017
The Dems want to stop tax cuts, good healthcare and Border Security.Their ObamaCare is dead with 100% increases in P's. Vote now for Karen H — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2017
June 22, 2017
I am very supportive of the Senate #HealthcareBill. Look forward to making it really special! Remember, ObamaCare is dead. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
I cannot imagine that these very fine Republican Senators would allow the American people to suffer a broken ObamaCare any longer! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2017
June 26, 2017
The nonpartisan CBO reviewed a draft of the revised Senate budget. The review made headlines as it estimated that the changes would leave 22 million uninsured by 2026.
McConnell issued a statement indicating that the CBO review found that the bill would also “reduce the growth in premiums under Obamacare, reduce taxes on the middle class, and reduce the deficit.”
Many in Congress and the Senate issued statements on the CBO review; read them here.
Republican Senators are working very hard to get there, with no help from the Democrats. Not easy! Perhaps just let OCare crash & burn! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2017
June 27, 2017
Republican senators met with Donald Trump at the White House. The vote was delayed until after the 4th of July recess.
I just finished a great meeting with the Republican Senators concerning HealthCare. They really want to get it right, unlike OCare! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2017
Some of the Fake News Media likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare. Wrong, I know the subject well & want victory for U.S. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2017
If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2017
"I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new HealthCare bill fully approved and ready to go! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
Republicans Senators are working hard to get their failed ObamaCare replacement approved. I will be at my desk, pen in hand! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2017
July 17, 2017
Mitch Mcconnell announced that the Senate bill did not have the votes. The new plan was “a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period.”
Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2017
The Republicans never discuss how good their healthcare bill is, & it will get even better at lunchtime.The Dems scream death as OCare dies! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2017
"If Republicans don't Repeal and Replace the disastrous ObamaCare, the repercussions will be far greater than any of them understand! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2017
Republicans have a last chance to do the right thing on Repeal & Replace after years of talking & campaigning on it. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017
July 25, 2017
The Senate also voted on an amendment to replace the AHCA with the BCRA, which would repeal parts of the ACA. Nine Republicans voted against the amendment; click here for a full list.
Big day for HealthCare. After 7 years of talking, we will soon see whether or not Republicans are willing to step up to the plate! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
ObamaCare is torturing the American People.The Democrats have fooled the people long enough. Repeal or Repeal & Replace! I have pen in hand. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
This will be a very interesting day for HealthCare.The Dems are obstructionists but the Republicans can have a great victory for the people! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
July 26, 2017
The Senate voted on the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act. Seven Republicans voted against it, killing the amendment.
July 27, 2017
Senators voted on the Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act, an amendment that would have comprehensive health insurance coverage for all United States residents. Only 57 senators voted on the amendment as most Democrats abstained. See the full voting record here.
July 28, 2017
Senators voted to pass an amendment that would have replaced the American Health Care Act with the Health Care Freedom Act of 2017, commonly referred to as the "skinny repeal". The "skinny repeal" did not pass, click here to read the highlights of the amendment.
As the debate continues, search through our archives of public statements to find out what your Senators and Representatives have said about the Healthcare bill. In our latest Political Courage Test we asked, "Do you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’)?” Check out your officials’ issue positions to see if you agree on this issue.
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