I stayed up watching CNN on Thursday night, monitoring the health care vote. Seeing it through to the end was easier on the west coast, as the numbers were in by about 11pm. I decided not to write immediately, as I wanted to let my thoughts settle in.
Despite McConnell and Cruz’s bitter words after the vote, no Democrats that I saw were gloating. Trump and Price can still do a lot to trigger a death spiral of the ACA, like not paying subsidies to people who need them to pay premiums. Trump is quite vindictive enough to do that. In his commercial real estate career, he frequently threatened to walk away from one of his many failed buildings, and the lenders always came around — because they didn’t want the building. The case here is very different: people want and need their health care.
It might occur to Trump that the Democratic caucus was the one that held together, while Republicans were at war with themselves. Bipartisanship going forward on health care might actually lead us to something that works.
But that would be the case with someone who actually cared about health care. Trump cares about wins.
Our Washington Senator Patty Murray was visible behind Chuck Schumer as he was speaking. I thought she looked exhausted. I was at breakfast with Senator Murray a few weeks ago, and we tried to give her all the encouragement we could to keep fighting for us. Honestly, you wonder why people want these thankless jobs.
For now, the vote was a big win for decency and good sense. We avoided driving off a cliff on health care. Even if the victory is short-lived, we’ve had so little good news since Trump was elected, I’ll take this victory for what it is.
I’ve been critical in the past about Republican moderates who talk compromise, bipartisanship, and integrity — then vote the party line. But not here, on the health care vote. Senators Collins and Murkowski stood strong, and in the end John McCain stood with them. It was enough, and I feel much respect and gratitude for the courage of all three, and for the consistent courage and advocacy of the Democratic caucus.