The morning after the collapse of Republican’s seven-year bid to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Senate Democratic leaders had a message for their colleagues and constituents: It’s time to get to work.
“Let’s think of the future, not of the political victory,” Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said at a Friday press conference, on the Hill, noting that Congress’ first order of business should be stabilizing the individual health care market by permanently appropriating cost sharing reduction payments to insurers. “It keeps premiums down and keeps the number of counties that are covered up.” He added that the Senate should consider proposals for reinsurance programs that Democrats and Republicans alike have offered.
Schumer lavished praise on the three Republican defectors who joined Democrats to tank the GOP bill—Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), John McCain (R-AZ) and Lisa Murkowksi (R-AK)—lauding McCain as a man who “speaks truth to power” and noting of Collins and Murkowski, “women are in so many instances stronger than men” and “brag less about it.”
Schumer expressed hope Friday morning that the crashing and burning of the repeal effort would be the “spark” and the “turning point” that puts the Senate back on a path toward working together, and warned Republicans not to keep trying to pass major bills with Republican votes alone.
“We can work together,” he insisted. “But if they do the same thing, if they keep going with reconciliation, they’re putting the same sign out on the door: ‘No Democrats wanted,’ like they did with health care. I think it’ll lead to the same result.”
While mostly serious in his tone, Schumer could not resist a small victory lap, comparing the “deep, deep fault lines” in the Republican caucus to his own Democratic members holding strong despite ideological differences.
“Our caucus was so united,” he said. “Everyone from Bernie Sanders to Joe Manchin and everyone in between was on the same page. We’re a family and we watch each other’s backs.”
Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.