I was looking forward to writing a blog about the death of the Republican health care bill. The Senate was going to vote on it earlier this week, and enough senators had announced their opposition that it was going to fail, so that would be the end of it, and I would get to write a celebratory blog post dancing on its grave.
Somehow this thing still isn’t over yet.
Look, I’d love to tell you what’s going on with health care right now. I really, really would. But despite the fact that I’ve spent the whole week watching C-SPAN and scanning reporters’ Twitter feeds for scraps of information, I still don’t really know.
But here’s the thing: the actual people in charge of all this don’t know either.
Everyone hated the Senate bill. Everyone. “Moderates” hated it because it was going to destroy the U.S. insurance markets. Hardline conservatives hated it for not destroying the insurance markets enough.
So they decided not to have a vote on the original bill. Instead, they’re voting on several different “amendments” that more or less remake the whole bill into something else. These amendments are basically “strike the entire text of the bill, replace it with this other bill” and then they vote. So far these have all failed, too. They have a couple more going-to-fail votes scheduled for the afternoon, and then they’re planning on having a vote on a so-called “skinny repeal” bill later today or tomorrow.
What’s in the “skinny repeal” bill?
Well, in the middle of writing this blog, I happened to glance at Twitter, and I saw this:
Oh. So they don’t even know exactly what the “skinny repeal” will do yet. They’re going to chat about it over turkey sandwiches and then make everyone vote on it. (Note to the Senate: This. Is. Insane. Please stop.)
The stated hope is that the “skinny repeal” will pass, and then they can get together with the House (which, if you remember, passed a different horrible bill already) and work out a whole new bill that everyone will like, and then both chambers will vote on it, and Trump will sign it, and everything will be wonderful.
That’s going to be fine, right? I mean, they’ve had seven years to come up with a different bill, and they haven’t been able to do it. Their plan is to just keep voting “yes” on this basically blank piece of paper and fill it in later. This will certainly result in a great piece of legislation. Clearly.
This is the part that makes me nervous, and should have you calling your senators’ offices right now. The further into the process they go, the more pressure there is to pass something, even if it’s terrible. And they’re pretty damn far into the process now.
Don’t look away. This isn’t over yet.
(And yes, the image above is of President Obama addressing a joint session of Congress about health care. A now apparently bygone time when working with both parties seemed the sensible approach to tackling legislation that affects basically every American.)