UPDATE 6/27/17 8AM:
In what looks like a true demonstration of political courage, Collins announced strong opposition to the Senate Trumpcare bill a few hours after the CBO score came out last night. In a three tweet message, she stated that she would not even vote to advance the bill for debate, and wanted to work with both parties to “fix the flaws in the ACA.” In doing so, she provided the critical third vote needed to block debate on the bill, so it’s fairly clear her announcement wasn’t approved by McConnell. There is some risk that McConnell could persuade some of the no votes to change their minds with side deals, however, so until the bill is officially pulled it’s important for us to keep calling to thank Collins for her position and urge her to both stand firm and persuade her colleagues to join her.
To all who have called and protested Senator Collins on this issue over the last several months, THANK YOU! Constituent pressure was clearly a huge factor in moving her from “repeal & replace” to “repair & improve.” You made this happen.
This week is the greatest test of the Resistance thus far. If we can stop Trumpcare in the Senate this week, Republicans will likely give up on the idea of ACA repeal altogether. But if it passes the Senate this week, it will most likely pass quickly through the House and be signed into law.
After weeks of secretive negotiations in which Senator Collins was not included, Mitch McConnell finally released a draft of the Senate version of the Trumpcare bill, dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). It is extremely similar to the House bill (AHCA), but with even deeper cuts to Medicaid. Like the House bill, it is not really a health care bill, but rather a massive transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy and insurance companies.
The bill needs the votes of 50 Senators to pass, meaning McConnell can only lose two Republicans. Thus far, many have been voicing concerns–both conservative and more moderate Republicans–and five have said they can’t vote for it in its current form. None of those have been no hard “no’s”, however, so most of them are likely just threatening opposition now to get some small concession in the final bill.
As for Collins, she’s been expressing deep concern about the bill, focusing her concerns on the Medicaid cuts, the impact on older Americans, and the overall loss of coverage, but she has refused to take a position on the bill until the CBO score comes out early this week. This is essentially a dodge; it’s abundantly clear from the CBO score of the House version and the structure of the Senate bill itself that it does not meet Collins’ stated standards for a health care bill, causing 14 million to lose insurance from the ending of the Medicaid expansion alone. She certainly seems to be setting herself up to oppose the bill immediately after the CBO score comes out, but because McConnell is planning to jam the bill through the Senate by the end of this week, that would leave very little time for Collins’ opposition to sway any of her colleagues.
We need Collins to do more than just vote no on the bill. We need her to oppose it loudly and early, and to try to sway her colleagues to oppose it, too. So the new action item is to ask Collins to announce her opposition to the Trumpcare bill, and persuade her colleagues to do the same. Call every day, get your fellow Mainers to call, protest, do whatever you can.
Thanks for all you do,