April 5, 2017: Neil Gorsuch, TrumpCare 2.0, Scott Gottlieb
- Senator Jeff Merkley held the Senate floor for over 15 hours last night and into this morning, in protest of Neil Gorsuch's nomination.
- House Republicans met yesterday in an effort to try to revive the TrumpCare bill.
- Scott Gottlieb's confirmation hearing as FDA Commissioner begins today at 10:00 AM EDT.
At 6:50 PM last night, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon took the Senate floor and did not stop speaking until 10:14 AM this morning. (The New York Times reports that this isn't technically a filibuster due to the fact that it was not specifically delaying any other Senate actions.) Merkley noted Gorsuch's disproportionate rulings in favor of the privileged, blasted Republicans for their treatment of Merrick Garland, and said that the Senate shouldn't confirm a Trump nominee to the Supreme Court while ties between the President's campaign and Russia are still being investigated.
Senate Republicans are expected to move forward with a rule change tomorrow, allowing a vote to limit debate to pass with a simple majority. They have vowed to see Gorsuch confirmed by Friday.
- Dem senator wraps all-night Supreme Court protest after 15 hours (The Hill)
- Senator Jeff Merkley Spoke All Night Against Gorsuch Nomination (but It Wasn't a Filibuster) (New York Times)
House Republicans met yesterday to negotiate changes to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in an effort to build solid GOP support for repealing the ACA. Included in the new proposal were provisions which would allow states to seek exemptions from two major ACA requirements: coverage for "essential health benefits" (including hospitalization, emergency services, maternity care, and mental health services), and "community rating," which prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions. The new proposal is largely aimed at bringing in members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, but some moderate Republicans have expressed concerns.
Meanwhile, a new Gallup poll shows that the ACA is now supported by a majority of Americans, with 55% of US adults supporting the law (though 40% favor keeping the law with significant changes). Furthermore, a new poll by Kaiser shows that 75% of Americans believe that the President should do what he can to make the existing law work.
- Republicans try to revive health-care effort as leaders seek to temper expectations (Washington Post)
- Affordable Care Act Gains Majority Approval for First Time (Gallup)
- Kaiser Health Tracking Poll - April 2017: The Fall of the AHCA and Next Steps for the ACA (Kaiser)
The confirmation hearing for Scott Gottlieb, Trump's pick to head the Food and Drug Administration, begins today at 10:00 AM EDT in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. A physician and venture capitalist, Gottlieb's stated priority for the FDA is to remove existing protections in order to, as he claims, help bring new products to market.
Gottlieb currently serves on the board of several major pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline. He is also the acting chief executive of Cell Biotherapy, a biotech company involved in cancer research. According to the New York Times, he has received millions of dollars from the drug and healthcare industry, including more than $150,000 from Vertex Pharmaceuticals from 2013 to 2015. Given his existing relationships with the drug and biotech industry, it is unclear how effective Gottlieb would be as the head of that industry's chief watchdog agency.
- Senate HELP Committee Hearing (includes live video stream)
- Senate HELP Committee Membership
- Scott Gottlieb Financial Disclosure Letter
- Scott Gottlieb: Conflicts surround Trump's FDA pick (CNN)
- F.D.A. Nominee, Paid Millions by Industry, Says He'll Recuse Himself if Needed (New York Times)
- Payment information to Scott Gottlieb (OpenPaymentsData.CMS.gov)
Conclusion/Call Script Overview
Today I will call both of my senators and thank them for supporting the Democratic filibuster of Neil Gorsuch, and ask them to insist that no nominee be confirmed without a full and independent investigation into the Trump Administration's ties to Russia. I'll also ask them to oppose Scott Gottlieb's nomination as FDA Commissioner.
I will also call my Congressman and ask him to oppose any revival of the TrumpCare bill.
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 thank Senator Feinstein for committing to support a filibuster of Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court. I feel that it is extremely dangerous to allow this President's nominee to be confirmed while the legitimacy of his election is still in question, so I want to ask the Senator to continue to hold the line and ask that no nominee be considered until and unless a full and independent investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia can be completed. I'd also like to ask Senator Feinstein to please oppose the nomination of Scott Gottlieb as FDA Commissioner. Thank you."
Script for Calling Kamala Harris
"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling to thank Senator Harris for committing to support a filibuster of Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court. I feel that it is extremely dangerous to allow this President's nominee to be confirmed while the legitimacy of his election is still in question, so I want to ask the Senator to continue to hold the line and ask that no nominee be considered until and unless a full and independent investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia can be completed. I'd also like to ask Senator Harris to please oppose the nomination of Scott Gottlieb as FDA Commissioner. Thank you."
Script for Calling Scott Peters
"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling because I read recently that the Republicans are trying to bring the TrumpCare bill back in an even worse form, allowing states to remove essential health coverages and charge higher premiums to patients with pre-existing conditions. I know that Congressman Peters worked very hard to oppose the previous TrumpCare bill and I just want to make sure that he's aware of these new developments and will continue to protect our healthcare. Thank you."