Dear MoveOn member,
Thanks to you, the latest GOP proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act and gut Medicaid is collapsing.
Over the past few days, the momentum has shifted radically against the GOP's attack on health care. We could be on the verge of a historic victory, if we keep the pressure up.
On Monday night, enough Republican senators came out against the Trumpcare bill to kill its chances in the Senate. Then Mitch McConnell changed tacks, announcing that he'd hold a vote on a repeal of Obamacare without a replacement.1
By this afternoon, three Republican senators—Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Shelley Moore Capito—announced that they'll vote no on that, too.2 If they do, the vote will fail.
McConnell announced tonight that the vote will be held one week from now, and Senate Republicans are meeting with Trump tomorrow.
As we've seen, GOP plans can change at lightning speed—so it's vital that we keep up maximum pressure, demanding as many commitments to vote no as possible. We can't let down our guard.
But right now?
The passage of time has a way of making events seem inevitable in retrospect. If the repeal effort does, in fact, grind to a halt, people will say that it was doomed all along. But when Trump was first elected and Republicans said they'd repeal the Affordable Care Act "immediately" and "on Day 1," a huge loss seemed all but certain.3 A situation like this was barely imaginable.
Let's take a moment to remember what really happened. It's an extraordinary story of transforming the seemingly impossible into the inevitable. That's what social movements do. And that's what we've got now: a movement.
Think of all the twists and turns.
MoveOn's first national day of action against Trumpcare came on December 20, 2016. Protests in dozens of cities nationwide, with thousands participating. Then we started hitting the phones, with tens of thousands of appeals from constituents to elected officials.
Next came January 15, 2017: "Our First Stand," as they called it, a wave of public demonstrations on health care sparked by Bernie Sanders. By then, the GOP was already growing wary. Then came the unforgettable Women's March. And then that first congressional recess in February—the first "Resistance Recess"—when 100,000 people flooded town hall meetings and told their senators and representatives that their lives were on the line, and they were ready to fight to defend them.
The House Republicans' response to the February Resistance Recess was to come home and schedule a vote on their hideous bill at breakneck speed, with no hearings or consultations. Protests multiplied. Republicans balked—on both the hard-right and moderate wings of the GOP caucus. MoveOn members and allies lit up the phone lines.
On the day of the vote, MoveOn members alone made 30,000 calls to House Republicans. In Washington, D.C., we gathered to protest the bill's passage—and suddenly, moments before the rally began, Paul Ryan canceled the vote. "Obamacare is the law of the land for the foreseeable future," he announced.4 It was hard to believe. Joined now by Nancy Pelosi, we literally jumped for joy:
That was the 24th of March, a wonderful day. But, as it turned out, it was too good to be true.
Paul Ryan was lying. As the news media moved on to other stories, the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus was busily negotiating an amendment to make Trumpcare drastically worse. Suddenly, the bill was back on track. And a group of so-called Republican moderates, rather than rejecting a bill that had grown even more cruel to their constituents, utterly lost their backbones and caved.
In that moment of crisis, MoveOn members pulled out all the stops—massing in protest, funding planes dragging anti-Trumpcare banners over Republicans' home towns, frantically flooding Republicans' offices with calls. It wasn't enough. On May 4, 219 Republicans voted to pass Trumpcare, casting a vote that will haunt them for the rest of their political careers. Many will lose their seats because of it (we'll help see to that!).
As they left the Capitol, MoveOn protestors were waiting outside, chanting "SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!" as House Republicans boarded a bus to sip champagne and celebrate with Trump in the Rose Garden.
That's when the die-ins began. The resistance had entered a new phase. If the bill passed the Senate, the consequences would be lethal.
Working with a unified array of allies—from Indivisible and People's Action to Planned Parenthood and Ultraviolet, from unions like the SEIU and AFSCME to nonpartisan groups like AARP, and with coalition efforts like Protect Our Care and Health Care for America Now, MoveOn turned the pressure up as far as it could go. Alongside progressive movement allies like CREDO, the Working Families Party, and Our Revolution, we pressed Democrats to stand and fight—to shut down business as usual in the Senate as Republicans negotiated their bill in secret. As Democrats ramped up their opposition, the media, which had once more fallen asleep at the switch, finally perked up and took notice that insurance for 22 million Americans was on the verge of incineration. McConnell vowed a vote on his bill by the end of June—so we went on the road with Bernie Sanders, drawing crowds of thousands for last-minute protest events in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
We joined partners for relentless demonstrations outside of district offices. We cheered for disability rights activists from ADAPT as they parked wheelchairs in McConnell's office and refused to leave—chanting "No cuts to Medicaid!" even as they were dragged out by police officers—and then repeated the tactic in other GOP offices in D.C. and around the country. On the night before the voting was to begin, a group of Democrats and activists gathered for an impromptu conversation on the steps of the Capitol that turned into a roaring rally. And then, fearing a loss, McConnell—as Ryan had done before him—yanked the bill, delaying the vote.
But we'd collectively learned our lesson from the House—and didn't pause for a second.
Over the Fourth of July recess, activists drove home opposition to the health care bill every time a senator appeared in public. As senators returned to Washington, D.C., doctors, patients, and activists from the Center for Popular Democracy, HousingWorks, and other groups staged simultaneous sit-ins in more than a dozen GOP Senate offices. Calls poured in, ads aired on television, and medically fragile children—dubbed "the Little Lobbyists"—walked from office to office in the Senate to tell Republicans not to take away the care that kept them alive. Citizens and Democrats rallied and spoke out, and Republicans tried to dodge cameras and constituents to avoid answering for the cruel legislation they were poised to pass.
And then, at last, the wheels came off the GOP bus. Just as in the House, they moved the bill to the right to please the Ted Cruz conservatives. But even that wasn't enough for Rand Paul and Mike Lee.
Today, they moved it further right, attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. This time, it was the moderates—subject of an avalanche of pressure for six solid months—who refused to go along. And suddenly, just like that, the bill appears dead.
Republicans promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act for seven years. They gained total control of the House, Senate, and White House. They have enough House and Senate seats to keep their promise. But they don't have the people.
And, as the saying goes, the power of the people is greater than the people in power.
It doesn't always work this way. We can't expect to win every fight of the Trump era. Even in this fight, something could still suddenly change. But especially given how rare these moments are, it's important to mark and celebrate the times when our fight is succeeding.
So what comes next?
First, we need to make sure zombie Trumpcare stays in its grave. Remember, McConnell is still insisting on a vote next week on repealing the Affordable Care Act, even though he doesn't have the votes to pass it—apparently because he wants to be able to say he tried before moving on to tax cuts for billionaires. We need to make absolutely sure that vote goes down in flames. But even after that, even if Republicans can't repeal it legislatively, Trump will keep trying to sabotage it through executive action. And Trump’s budget calls for hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid. We still have to resist with all our might.
And it's also time to look ahead. We must hold accountable everyone who voted for this hideous bill or came close to supporting it—and prepare to throw dozens of Republicans out of Congress next fall. And it's time to rally Democrats in support of the visionary step forward that America still desperately needs: Medicare for All.
Defending health care has taken millions of dollars over the past six months. Now we must hold Republicans accountable and fight for a better system for everyone. If you can contribute, please help out with a $3 donation now.
These fights await us. Stay tuned for opportunities to take action.
But until the next battle comes, let's take a moment to share a deep breath. On behalf of the tens of thousands of people whose lives, so far, have been saved, the tens of millions whose coverage has been preserved, and the hundreds of millions of Americans whose protections themselves have been protected ... thank you!
Thank you for fighting.
Thank you for believing this was possible, for not giving up hope.
Thanks for all you do.
–Ben, Emma, Anna, Justin, and the rest of the team
P.S. Join me this Sunday, July 23, for the next Ready to Resist mass movement call, where we'll talk about the very latest on health care and the path forward. We'll be joined by leaders from the Working Families Party, Center for Popular Democracy, and People's Action to prepare for the August congressional recess. Click here to RSVP for the call this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET (7 CT/6 MT/5 PT), and you'll receive a phone call to join, or you can stream live online at moveon.org/readytoresist.
1. "Senate Republicans are in denial that repeal without replacement is dead," Think Progress, July 18, 2017
2. "'Let Obamacare Fail,' Trump Says as G.O.P. Health Bill Collapses," The New York Times, July 18, 2017
3. "It’s true Trump didn’t pledge Obamacare repeal in 64 days. He pledged it in one." The Washington Post, March 24, 2017
4. "Ryan: 'Obamacare is the law of the land' for foreseeable future," Politico, March 24, 2017
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