I’m not a big proponent of calls, letters, e-mails etc. to members of Congress. I don’t think they sway many votes that often. Many of my political friends disagree with me on this point. Other than to concede that they have many valid points, I’m not going to debate that today. There are situations where I feel that calling your Senator can make a difference and today I want to implore some of my readers to do just that. Let’s explore.
This week the Senate is slated to vote on their version of the health care bill (the Better Care Reconciliation Act). No Democrat is expected to vote for the measure. The Republicans can only lose two votes from their caucus and still get the fifty votes necessary for a tie which Vice President Mike Pence can break in their favor. By my count there are eight GOP Senators who may well vote against the bill; we only need three to in order to put Obamacare repeal to bed for at least the time being.
They break into two camps. The first are those who feel the proposed bill isn’t mean enough. They are Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The camp that feels it is already too mean includes, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Obviously I don’t agree with the motivation in the first camp, however if they were to stick to their guns the bill is dead and more likely pulled before it reaches a vote. Mission accomplished. Here are my concerns: I expect amendments to be offered to entice these members to change their minds. (All four have publically declared they are “No” votes at this point.) These four are far from my favorite Senators and the only one who I feel really has principles (weird as they may be at times) is Rand Paul. Nonetheless, at this point they are voting the right way and progressives should aim to keep it that way.
Of the second group the only one who has publically and clearly declared that they are a “No” vote at this point is Dean Heller. To a degree that may be because he is up for reelection in 2018 and is far from a prohibitive favorite. Taking health care away from thousands of Nevadans wouldn’t help his November 2018 chances any. The others have made statements about not liking parts of the bill but haven’t declared a position yet.
Here is the dilemma Mitch McConnell finds himself in: it is impossible to adjust the bill in such a way as to placate both sides simultaneously. If you make it meaner (which is the way I think they will go) you bring on the first group but further alienate the second. Go the other way and the opposite happens.
We need three of the eight to vote “No”; the numbers are plain and simple. Mitch knows that also. Let’s say he makes the bill meaner and gets the first group of four in line. His mission then is to peel off two of the second group. If you are trying to “buy off” two of them Collins and Murkowski are the least likely targets – they have the most integrity (especially Collins). Mitch is a master political strategist and will not go down without a “fight”.
What I am asking my readers to do is if you live in one of these eight states please contact the Senator that was listed above. Especially in the cases of the second group, constituent opinion will weigh in their final decision. This is representative democracy at its best. I suggest telephone or e-mail, anything else may be too slow.
This week will be interesting and it presents an opportunity for some of you to do something good for your fellow Americans.
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