WASHINGTON – With a Senate vote on the GOP health care bill delayed until at least next week, opponents are using the additional time to build on their efforts to defeat the measure.
“Every day that the Senate doesn’t repeal the affordable care act and gut Medicaid is a day that makes it less likely they’ll be able to pass it,” said Ben Wikler, Washington director of the progressive group MoveOn that is opposing the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had planned for a vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act this week but was forced to delay it after Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., underwent surgery for the removal of a blot clot near his brain over the weekend. McCain is unable to return to Washington while he recovers and, with two GOP senators already opposed to the bill, Senate leaders must have his vote in order to pass the bill.
The additional time is giving opponents a chance to organize more rallies, protests, call-in campaigns, mass emails, door-to-door canvassing and sit-ins at senators’ Washington offices to pressure Republicans to vote against the a bill that is already in jeopardy. In addition to the two Republicans opposing the bill – Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Susan Collins, R-Maine – there are at least eight other GOP senators who have voiced serious concerns with it.
Related: McConnell Delays Health Care Vote as McCain Recovers From Surgery
Paul said the delay would make it more difficult for leadership.
“I think the longer the bill’s out there, the more conservative Republicans are going to discover that it’s not repeal. And the more that everybody’s going to discover that it keeps the fundamental flaw of Obamacare,” Paul said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.
Senate Democrats have been pressuring Republicans to hold open hearings on their bill. They’ve stalled all judicial nominations, including non-controversial ones, slowing the process to a crawl until Republicans hold health care hearings.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter with Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, asking him to use the extra time to hold hearings and allow a complete score from a Congressional Budget Office before holding a vote.
“Given your decision to delay the vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, we request that you use this additional time to hold public hearings so that Senators can invite impartial experts, including patients, to testify on the policies in the bill, especially the radically conservative Cruz/Lee proposal released to the public only five days ago,” Schumer, Murray and Wyden wrote.
Collins agrees that the process should be more transparent.
“At the end of the day, I don’t know whether it will pass. But I do know this. We should not be making fundamental changes in a vital safety net program that’s been on the books for 50 years,” Collins said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, “without having a single hearing to evaluating what the consequences are going to be.”