September 25, 2017
Just when Americans think the health care debate has flat-lined, Senate Republicans managed to pump new life in the debate. After Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced his formal opposition to the plan offered by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), most conservative's hopes were dashed. The GOP could only afford to lose two senators, and with Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) a solid "no," there didn't seem to be a path forward.
That changed this weekend, when, in a race against time, senators decided to tweak the bill in a last-ditch effort to win over unhappy Republicans. With just four days left before the window expires to pass a repeal with a simple majority, no one is quite sure if the changes will be enough to get the bill moving again. In an obvious carrot to the holdouts, the measure would "steer more federal funding to Alaska, Arizona, and Kentucky. All three states are home to pivotal GOP swing votes," Politico points out, "who either have opposed or expressed concerns with the bill: Senators McCain, Paul, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)." To tamp down other criticism, the plan "also includes new provisions that would give states more freedom to eliminate federal insurance regulations" -- something Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have asked for.
The mad dash to rework the bill makes one thing clear: the GOP finally understands the urgency. After seven years of promises, voters won't be very forgiving in 2018 if they don't have at least a partial repeal to show for it. Their majority, credibility, and one-sixth of America's economy on the line, Republicans have rarely had higher stakes than these. When you live in the bubble of Washington on a six-year election cycle, maybe it's easy for senators to lose sight of that. House members don't have that luxury. With just two years to prove themselves to voters, their senses aren't dulled.
Let's hope this new wave of changes forces more Republicans to look at the big picture, which includes countless unborn lives, whose fate will literally be decided by what the GOP does this week. If the Senate misses its opportunity to defund Planned Parenthood as part of the Graham-Cassidy bill, there's no telling how many innocent children will pay for it. Join us in calling on your senators to see this promise through to completion! Future Americans depend on it.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.