Politics

Opponents, Led by Sanders, Mobilize to Fight Health Care Bill

With days before a possible vote in the Senate, activists hit the streets

Sen. Bernie Sanders at a June 2016 rally. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bernie Sanders will spend his weekend pressuring Republican colleagues in the Senate to vote against the Republican health care bill as Republicans hope to bring it to a vote next week.

That’s one tactic of many that Democrats and aligned groups are using to prevent the bill from clearing the Senate and replacing the 2010 health care law.

Opponents of the GOP bill are calling on constituents to register disapproval with their Republican lawmakers as well, by calling and visiting offices, and holding organized protests like the one outside Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office Thursday. There, disability rights activists held a “die-in,” with many getting out of wheelchairs to lie on the floor and block the entrance. Forty-three protesters were removed and arrested by Capitol Police.

Protests broke out across the country after a draft of the bill was released on Thursday. Protesters gathered at Reagan National Airport in Washington to confront Republican senators and doctors and nurses rallied in San Francisco on Thursday, while demonstrators gathered outside senators’ offices on Friday in Arizona, Idaho, and Pennsylvania.

Opponents warned that if the vote passes in the Senate, President Donald Trump will sign whatever is sent over. 

Sanders and MoveOn will host rallies in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia to try and sway Republican Sens. Pat Toomey, Rob Portman, and Shelley Moore Capito, who are seen as possible holdouts on their party’s bill.

Trump, for his part, has focused on bringing in four conservatives who are still skeptical of the bill: Sens. Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee, of whom the president said, “They’d like to get certain changes, and we’ll see if we can take care of that.”

Meanwhile, advocacy groups including Indivisible and MoveOn continue to push for Senate Democrats to use every tool at their disposal to disrupt the process and slow down Senate business. This could include denying unanimous consent requests and offering large numbers of amendments to the bill in order to delay it, tactics that they have tried in the last week.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.