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Senator McConnell’s speech was less than gracious

You can breathe again, folks. Especially if you rely on Medicaid to help you with it. The Republicans’ attempt to gut the Affordable Care Act is finally dead, for real this time, at least until the next time they get a hair up their butts. The Senate voted 51-49 to reject the “Skinny Repeal” of Obamacare, with John McCain joining Maine’s Susan Collins, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, and Everwhere’s Democratic senators in voting against the bill. Donald Trump was not pleased:

Given that Trump’s involvement in crafting the legislation consisted of sitting around and saying he was waiting to sign something, anything, that imperative, “Watch!” seems entirely apt, although now the fight to preserve the ACA will mean opposing, loudly, Trump’s far more active efforts to undermine the program from inside, using all sorts of administrative fuckery to push the individual markets toward failure. This fight isn’t over. We’re still going to have to make a lot of noise, people.

Speaking of noise, let’s take a quick look at how the crowd waiting outside the Capitol reacted to the news that the repeal had failed. They were ready to protest, but here they are, getting a hell of a nice surprise:

The bill that was actually voted on was cobbled together at the last minute and brought to the Senate floor only at 10 PM, after which there were two hours of debate on the mess before a vote. Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey offered this summary of the Republicans’ years of hard work at repealing and replacing the ACA:

It was a very hollow repeal that would have done enormous damage, eliminating the individual and employer mandates, defunding Planned Parenthood for a year, and otherwise fiddling around the edges of healthcare. It was an abomination of a bill, designed mostly to get enough votes to move the process to a conference committee with the House, and to allow Senate Republicans cover to say they’d voted to repeal Obamacare just like they promised. The most maddening thing about the whole surreal process was that most Republicans agreed it was terrible as legislation, then said they’d go right ahead and vote for it just as long as the House pinky-swore not to pass it. If it had passed, it would have led to 16 million Americans losing healthcare just next year and premium increases of an average of 20 percent in the individual market. (That average masks increases for old people of up to 700 percent.) Repealing the mandate for healthy people to have health insurance would have led to a “death spiral” in the insurance market as mostly people needing healthcare were enrolled, at least until prices went so high they were priced out.

The vote on the bill was supposed to take place at midnight in Washington, but was delayed until 1:30 Friday morning as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to make sure he had 50 votes. Vice President Mike Pence was on hand to pass the triumphant tie-breaker, but his services ended up not being needed. John McCain actually followed through on his nice speech about the need to return to regular order, joining Collins and Murkowsi in voting “no.” During the delay before the vote, everyone on Twitter turned into an amateur body language expert, trying to figure out the significance of Pence talking to McCain, then McCain ambling over to huddle with Murkowski and Collins, and then with — oh, horrors! — Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and a suspicious number of Democrats.

So, we guess John McCain doesn’t have to go fuck himself after all: He did the right thing, finally, although he could have done it Tuesday night. We won’t pretend we’re experts on the Senate’s weirdass rules — maybe this was his plan all along, and a “no” on the actual bill had more finality than a “no” on Tuesday’s motion to proceed? Or maybe he’s just a fickle fucker. And then there’s this line of analysis from the Washington Post, which certainly seems credible enough except for that “maverick” cliché:

Battling an aggressive form of brain cancer, the maverick was willing to vote “no” on the “skinny repeal” amendment so that other GOP colleagues who were also opposed to the measure could vote “yes” to save face with the conservative base. To this day, Trump has never apologized for saying that the former fighter pilot was not a war hero because he got captured in Vietnam. It gets less attention, but the president also besmirched the Arizona senator’s character by repeatedly accusing him of not taking care of other veterans. McCain has never forgotten.

Of course, in his statement on his vote, McCain still lied about the passage of the ACA, insisting “it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict-party line basis without a single Republican vote,” never mind the 161 Republican amendments or the year of hearings. So yeah, John McCain did the right thing finally, good on him. And Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were out there opposing this trainwreck all along, and somehow their own courage — particularly Murkowski’s, who had to face Trump’s threat to federal funding for her state — was elided by most of the media so McCain could get credit as the “hero.” Sounds like a lot of offices out there, huh?

Anyway, Mitch McConnell gave a big fakey-fake speech about how mean the Dems were for not even helping the least little bit to kill off healthcare for millions, and he glared some at Collins, Murkowski, and McCain, and was pretty much all boo-hoo, poor me, the people we excluded from our murder party didn’t want to do murder, well fine, let’s see what they’re going to do to fix this mess once they’re done celebrating. Also, he said this:

Yes, he thanked Republicans for the “endless time” they put into killing Obamacare. As one smartass on Twitter replied, “They wrote the 8 page bill over lunch yesterday. They spent “endless time” like I spend “endless time” making myself a fancy sandwich.”

Then Chuck Schumer said Democrats weren’t so much elated as relieved, and you know, Dems actually have some ideas for fixing problems with the ACA, which just like Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security is a big program that helps a lot of people, but needs some fixes to live up to its potential. So how about we stop trying to kill it and actually make healthcare work, maybe? It’s a crazy idea, but after eight years of inaction and obstruction, it might be worth a shot.

“Fox and Friends” was not at all happy about this terrible outcome, with insurance working like insurance should, and — egad! — Democrats actually taking selfies when they should all be ashamed of themselves:

Best clueless outrage in that clip: “I laugh, too, that these young people are out there celebrating […] Congratulations, the healthy people are paying for the sick people.” Why, yes. That is the precise idea with health insurance, you idiot. It’s why your car insurance doesn’t really reflect the full cost of replacing a totaled Audi.

So let’s have a moment of relief before we get to work on making sure the bastards don’t try this again. We’ll let Wonkette alum Sara Benincasa give the benediction:

Amen. Now go in peace, and be ready to raise more hell. We’ve got a couple of houses of Congress to work on for 2018.

Yr Wonkette is supported by reader donations. This shitstorm ain’t over, so please click that “Donate” clicky and keep RESISTing!

[NYT / WaPo / Business Insider / WaPo]

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