Sep 11, 2017
Process: It matters. During the first seven months of the 115th
Congress, the Republicans tried - in multiple ways - to repeal
portions of the Affordable Care Act. We already know what they were
trying to do; in this episode, hear the full story of how they
tried to get their bills passed into law. Later in the episode, we
also do a quick summary of what to expect in September as deadlines
related to flood insurance, government funding, marijuana, and many
other topics loom.
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Sound Clip Sources
Timestamps & Transcripts
Senate Session: Senate Leaders Speak Ahead of Health Care Vote,
July 25, 2017.
Sound Clip Transcripts
- Senator Chuck Schumer (NY): Many of us on this
side of the aisle have waited for years for this opportunity and
thought it would probably never come. Some of us were a little
surprised by the election last year, but with a surprise election
comes great opportunities to do things we thought were never
possible. So all we have to do today is to have the courage to
begin the debate with an open amendment process and let the voting
take us where it will.
- Senator John McCain (AZ): Our system doesn’t
depend on our nobility. It accounts for our imperfections and gives
us an order to our individual strivings that has helped make ours
the most powerful and prosperous society on Earth. It is our
responsibility to preserve that, and even when it requires us to do
something less satisfying than winning, even when we must give a
little to get a little, even when our efforts managed just 3 yards
in a cloud of dust while critics on both sides denounced us for
timidity, for our failure to triumph. I hope we can again rely on
humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other
to learn how to trust each other again and, by so doing, better
serve the people who elected us. Stop listening to the bombastic
loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell
with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our
incapacity is their livelihood. Let’s trust each other. Let’s
return to regular order. We have been spinning our wheels on too
many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win
without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been
employed by both sides: mandating legislation from the top down,
without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary
maneuvers that it requires. We are getting nothing done, my
friends. We’re getting nothing done. And all we’ve really done this
year is confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Our healthcare
insurance system is a mess. We all know it—those who support
Obamacare and those who oppose it. Something has to be done. We
Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with
something else without paying a terrible political price. We
haven’t found it yet, and I’m not sure we will. All we’ve managed
to do is make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular when
we started trying to get rid of it. I voted for the motion to
proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered. I
will not vote for this bill as it is today. It’s a shell of a bill
right now. We all know that.
- Senator Dick Durbin (IL): But there was an
interesting thing happened at the end of this. At the very last
moment, the very last vote that was cast was cast by Senator John
McCain. Everybody knows that John is diagnosed with a serious form
of cancer. He made it back from Arizona here to cast his vote, and
he asked for 15 minutes after the roll call to make a speech. I
don’t think many, if any, senators left the Chamber. Democrats and
Republicans stuck around to hear his speech after the vote. Can I
tell you that’s unusual in the Senate? Most of us race for the
doors and go up to our offices and watch on television and may
catch a piece of that speech and a piece of the other speech, but
we sat and we listened because of our respect for John McCain.
- Senator Ron Wyden (OR): Mr. President, the
pitch to Republican Senators this afternoon before the first vote
was that it was nothing but a little bit of throat clearing — just
a first step to get the conversation started. Let’s be clear,
nobody can pretend the stakes aren’t real now. In a few minutes,
the Senate will be voting on yet another version of the Senate
TrumpCare bill. I call it the BCRA 3.0. It features a special gut
punch to consumer protection offered by Senator Cruz.
- Senator Ron Wyden (OR): There was no hearing
in the finance committee, no hearing in the HELP committee.
Senators are flying in the dark, and as far as I can tell, the
proposal is going to be before us without having been scored by the
- Senator Ted Cruz (TX): And the Consumer
Freedom Amendment was designed to bring together and serve as a
compromise for those who support the mandates in Title One. The
Consumer FreedomAmendment says that insurance companies, if they
offer plans that meet those Title One mandates—all the protections
for preexisting conditions—they can also sell any other plan that
Sound Clip Transcripts
- Senator Rand Paul (KY): Today we will vote on
a bill we voted on many times. The Senate itself voted on this two
years ago. It’s the identical bill. We’re going to vote on a bill
we voted two years ago, and I hope everybody that voted for it
before will vote for it again. It’s what we call a clean repeal.
It’s not cluttered with insurance-company bailouts, it’s not
cluttered with this and that and new federal regulations; it is
just trying to peel back Obamacare. Now while it is a clean repeal,
it is only a partial repeal. Why? It’s only a partial repeal
because we have these arcane Senate rules that say we can’t repeal
the whole thing. Because we’re only repealing part of it, Obamacare
- Senator Rand Paul (KY): My government
shouldn’t be telling what I can buy and what I cannot buy. My
government should not tell me which doctor I can choose and which
doctor I have to leave behind. The government should not be
involved in my healthcare business. I want to be left alone. The
right to privacy, the right to be left alone, is a fundamental
right of Americans. That’s what this is about.
- Senator Rand Paul (KY): So, are we going to
have some government involvement? Yes. But because government is so
pitiful at anything they do, we should minimize government’s
involvement in any industry.
- Senator John Cornyn (TX): People keep talking
about a secret process. Well, this is about as open and transparent
as it gets, and everybody will have an opportunity to offer an
amendment, to discuss what’s in the amendment, and to vote on
Sound Clip Transcripts
- Senator Chuck Schumer (NY): Mr. President, it
is likely, at some point today, we will finally see the majority
leader’s final health care bill, the bill he intends to either pass
or fail. Thus far, we have been going through a pretense, defeating
Republican bills that never had enough support even within their
own caucus to pass. Repeal and replace has failed. Repeal without
replace has failed. Now we are waiting to see what the majority
leader intends for the Republican plan on health care. If the
reports in the media are true, the majority leader will offer a
skinny repeal as his final proposal.
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