Don’t take the Senate for granted on health care

Don’t take the Senate for granted on health care

Senator Chuck Schumer speaking to protesters outside the Capitol on Thursday. Credit Alex Wong/Getty Images

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After the House passed a cruel and unpopular health care bill on Thursday, many people (including me, I’ll confess) immediately began talking about the likely effects on the 2018 midterms. Smart political observers believe that Republicans just increased their odds of losing House control, which would be very big deal.

But there is plenty of time later to worry about the 2018 midterms. The focus now should be on the Senate.

If 50 senators (plus Vice President Mike Pence, who breaks ties) vote for a bill anything like the House bill, it would do great damage to the country. It would harm people who suffer from a wide range of health conditions, including birth defects, cancer, diabetes and just about every other disease — including many people who are perfectly healthy today but could one day fall sick. The bill would also transfer billions of dollars from the poor and the middle class to the wealthy, who are doing just fine already, thank you.

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So as disappointed as people might be about the House’s vote — and as eager as they might be to start the 2018 campaign — another project needs to take priority. The same groups and individual citizens, across left, center and right, that helped shine a light on the House health care bill, delaying its passage and making it so unpopular nationwide, needs to shift its attention to the Senate.

If every Democratic and independent senator votes against the bill, three Republicans would also need to do so to defeat it.

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