4 min readJul 28, 2017

Republicans’ Senate bill dies so Americans can live.

In what has to be one of the most dramatic moments in C-SPAN history, the Senate voted until nearly 2 a.m. on the so-called skinny version of a repeal and replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Republicans acknowledged the bill was a total disaster: it somehow both cut insurance coverage for 16 million Americans while causing premiums to jump 20% annually for those that could keep their plan. The GOP’s master strategy was to pass the bill — dubbed today as the Health Care Freedom Act — and then conference with House Republicans. There, they would get a consensus and pass whatever the group came up with. However, the House could have just as easily taken the Senate’s bill, immediately voted on it and it would’ve become law when Donald Trump signed it. Just like that.

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) were steadfast all week — and even longer, to be honest — that the Republican plan was flawed and their bill weak. After seven years of Republicans promising that Obamacare would soon be gone, that took incredible fortitude, especially as the White House and their colleagues upped the pressure on them to yield.

But, with VP Mike Pence breaking ties, and 52 Republicans in the House, Democrats needed to peel one more vote away from the GOP. The deciding vote fell to recent brain cancer diagnosee, six-term Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Rumors flew all day about what he was going to do with his vote, especially after his impassioned speech for bipartisanship and proper procedure on the Senate floor just days ago.

Finally, after delaying the vote to try and sway support for the bill that was finished over lunch today and provided to the Democrats just hours earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called for a vote. Collins and Murkowski stood strong. McCain stepped out of the room briefly to speak with Pence.

He came back in.

He stood right next to McConnell and cast his vote.

With a quick snap of McCain’s wrist accompanied by thumb downward, McConnell could see the die was cast. Trumpcare, BRCA, Skinny Bill, the repeal and replace bill, the freedom bill, AHCA — whatever the hell Republicans wanted to call it — was over.

With a huge majority in the House, a bill eventually passed, though plenty of shenanigans by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) helped it get there. With a majority in the Senate and a president ready, willing and able to sign anything that came across his desk, the GOP still couldn’t get it done, even after trying every trick in the book. This was the moment, perhaps the only one they’ll ever get, to repeal the ACA.

As much pleasure as some will get out of seeing Trump’s deranged tweets in a few short hours — and there will be many — Democrats are celebrating more than a mere political victory.

Few laws, if any, are perfect. Obamacare is certainly not. And while it continues to grow in popularity, it still needs its share of alterations. Democrats have advocated for its edits for years. However, tonight’s vote ensures that more Americans will have access to affordable health care than had the vote gone the other way while those tweaks are worked on.

Medical issues crop up for everyone: young, old, black, white, Democrat, Republican, white-collar, blue-collar, first-generation Americans, eighth-generation Americans, bilingual, brunette, green-eyed, tall, short, freckled, and double-jointed. Sickness doesn’t discriminate.

Make no mistake: American lives were saved by a diverse Democratic caucus holding firm, a nationwide wave of backlash blanketing Washington in opposing the GOP bills, and three incredibly brave Republican senators who put people before party and politics. They may never know it, but there are Republican voters ruing the bill’s failure who were saved from bankruptcy, or worse, by its demise.

Issues that affect 1/6 of the U.S. economy, as health care does, should be done bipartisanly. They should not be raised with hours notice and set for a vote after midnight using shady tactics. Hopefully Democrats and Republicans can come together to make common sense fixes to big issues that everyone agrees are problematic: skyrocketing prescription drug costs, insurers leaving marketplaces, and ever-rising deductibles.

But for now, many Americans can sleep easy, confident that their health care will not be stripped from them in the middle of the night.

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