March 23, 2017: TrumpCare, Gorsuch
- The House Rules Committee recessed last night after 13 hours of debate over the AHCA. This morning they continue their deliberations, though a full floor vote is still expected today.
- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has committed to opposing Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court, and has urged Senate Democrats to join a filibuster.
Yesterday, after a 13-hour session, the House Rules Committee recessed without finalizing its recommendations for how the full House would consider the AHCA. In the House of Representatives, before a bill may be considered for vote by the full House, it must first be assigned a package of rules under which it may be considered, including the length of debate, the number and types of amendments which will be allowed, and certain other procedural rules. This rules package is created by the Rules Committee, reported to the full House, and then voted on before consideration of the actual bill proceeds.
Under the normal Rules of the House of Representatives, a report from the Rules Committee may not be considered on the same day it is presented to the House, except by the agreement of two-thirds of the House. The Rules Committee has, in this case, put forward a special resolution to waive the two-thirds requirement and allow the full House to consider both its rules report and the AHCA itself on the same day. This would set up a final vote by the full House today. (It should be noted that resolutions to suspend portions of the standing rules are, in general, not unusual and are part of the normal order of business in the House—though "same-day" rules, specifically, are uncommon.)
In an attempt to win over additional support from conservative Republicans, House leaders and the President met with members of the House Freedom Caucus—a group of far-right House Republicans often associated with the Tea Party—to agree on additional changes to the bill beyond the amendments added on Monday night. Among the proposed changes would be a complete repeal of the ACA's requirements for essential health benefits such as maternity care, preventive services, and rehabilitative services. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not yet had time to update its report to include this week's earlier amendments, nor any of the proposed new amendments, though a report from the Brookings Institute indicated that the number of newly uninsured could be even higher under the amended AHCA than the original bill. Additionally, the new proposed amendments appear to have led some moderate Republicans to declare their opposition to the bill.
As of the time of this writing, 8 different news organizations are reporting that between 24 and 36 House Republicans will vote against the bill. If more than 21 Republicans defect, the bill will not pass, assuming that all House Democrats vote against it.
Beyond the House, six Republican Senators (as reported by The Hill) have stated opposition to the bill. Furthermore, a spokesman for Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that an amendment repealing essential health benefits would likely make the bill impermissible under reconciliation rules. Reconciliation is the procedure under which the AHCA is currently being crafted and considered, chosen because it would remove the possibility of a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. However, under a provision known as the Byrd Rule, reconciliation procedures may not be used for provisions which increase federal deficits or which are considered to be "extraneous."
- H. Res. 221: Waiving a requirement of clause 6(a) of rule XIII with respect to consideration of certain resolutions reported from the Committee on Rules, and providing for consideration of motions to suspend the rules
- HR. 1628: American Health Care Act of 2017
- Key to Health Vote, Hard-Line Conservatives Push New Cuts (New York Times)
- Freedom Caucus, Trump reach 'agreement in principle' on healthcare (The Hill)
- GOP health-care plan hangs in balance as House leaders push for Thursday floor vote (Washington Post)
- The House GOP amended its health care bill, but CBO estimates of coverage losses are not likely to meaningfully improve (Brookings Institute)
- Which Republicans Will Vote No? What 8 News Organizations Are Reporting (New York Times)
- Byrd Rule (Wikipedia)
Through three days of confirmation hearings, Judge Neil Gorsuch appeared not to have committed any major missteps, largely refusing to comment on specifics or be moved off-script. Senator Feinstein noted in her comments, "You have been very much able to avoid any specificity like no one I have seen before. And maybe that’s a virtue, I don’t know. But for us on this side, knowing where you stand on major questions of the day is really important to a vote."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stated this morning that he would oppose Gorsuch's nomination, and signaled that some Senate Democrats would filibuster. He has so far been joined by Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Both Schumer and Casey noted Gorsuch's history of siding with corporate interests as well as concerns over Gorsuch's independence as a justice.
- Democrats Fail to Move Gorsuch Off Script and Beyond Generalities (New York Times)
- Gorsuch Completes His 20-Hour Test. So How Did He Do? (New York Times)
- Schumer a no on Gorsuch, will urge Dems to oppose (The Hill)
- Schumer: Democrats will filibuster Gorsuch nomination (Washington Post)
Conclusion/Call Script Overview
Because the House is expected to hold its final vote on TrumpCare today, I strongly urge everyone to call their House Representatives and tell them to oppose the bill. I recommend calling even if your Representative has already shown support for the bill, as mine has.
In addition to calling my Representative, I will also call both of my Senators and ask them to join Senator Schumer in filibustering Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court.
Please note, calls about TrumpCare are especially important if you are represented by one of the following Republican House members:
- Mark Amodei (NV-2): (202) 225-6155
- Joe Barton (TX-6): (202) 225-2002
- Andy Biggs (AZ-5): (202) 225-2635
- Ken Buck (CO-4) (202) 225-4676
- Steve Chabot (OH-1): (202) 225-2216
- Jason Chaffetz (UT-3): (202) 225-7751
- Mike Coffman (CO-6): (202) 225-7882
- Paul Cook (CA-8): (202) 225-5861
- Scott DesJarlais (TN-4): (202) 225-6831
- Darrell Issa (CA-49): (202) 225-3906
- Peter King (NY-2): (202) 225-7896
- Brian Mast (FL-18): (202) 225-3026
- Tom McClintock (CA-4): (202) 225-2511
- Scott Perry (PA-4): (202) 225-5836
- Bruce Poliquin (ME-2): (202) 225-6306
- Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48): (202) 225-2415
- Mark Sanford (SC-1): (202) 225-3176
- Claudia Tenney (NY-22): (202) 225-3665
- Daniel Webster (FL-11): (202) 225-1002
- Roger Williams (TX-25): (202) 225-9896
- Don Young (AK-1): (202) 225-5765
If you are not from California, you can find contact information for all U.S. Senators here: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
If you don't know who your Representative in the House, you can look it up here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Script for Calling Dianne Feinstein
"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling to ask Senator Feinstein to join Senator Schumer in opposing and filibustering Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court. I believe that Gorsuch's record on women's rights, worker's rights, immigrants' rights, LGBTQ rights, and the environment are all deeply concerning, especially considering that Supreme Court Justices serve for life. I don't believe we can afford to have a Justice like Gorsuch on our highest court. Thank you."
Script for Calling Kamala Harris
"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling to ask Senator Harris to join Senator Schumer in opposing and filibustering Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court. I believe that Gorsuch's record on women's rights, worker's rights, immigrants' rights, LGBTQ rights, and the environment are all deeply concerning, especially considering that Supreme Court Justices serve for life. I don't believe we can afford to have a Justice like Gorsuch on our highest court. Thank you."
Script for Calling Scott Peters
"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling to thank Congressman Peters for his continued opposition to the TrumpCare bill. As Californians and San Diegans we are counting on him to protect our healthcare, so as the vote reaches the House floor today I am glad to know that I can count on him to vote against it. Thank you."