Following a long day of civil disobedience that saw hundreds gathered at the Capitol and at senate offices across the country demanding the death of Trumpcare, two Republican senators—Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas—announced Monday night that they would oppose the so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act, forcing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to admit defeat.
"Republicans have been determined to take a wrecking ball to the Affordable Care Act and the protections it provides. They will not give up. And neither will we."
—Anna Galland, MoveOn.org
Immediately upon conceding Trumpcare's demise, however, McConnell—urged on by President Donald Trump—vowed to revive "in the coming days" a 2015 measure that would fully repeal Obamacare "with a two-year delay," ostensibly aimed at stabilizing insurance markets and providing time for Republicans to unite around a replacement plan.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the 2015 legislation, which was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama, found that "the number of people who are uninsured would increase by 18 million in the first new plan year following enactment of the bill." That number, the CBO concluded, would climb to 32 million by 2026 and premiums would soar by 100 percent.
For this reason, activists' celebration of Trumpcare's defeat was brief and qualified. Though McConnell's concession is a testament to popular pressure sustained over a period of several months, progressive groups noted, his vow to come back with an even more devastating measure indicates that the fight to save the Affordable Care Act—and to move beyond it to a system that ensures healthcare for all—is far from over.
"Trumpcare isn't dead yet, but it's on life support," said Kai Newkirk, mission director for Democracy Spring, which participated in the demonstrations on Monday.
Many likened Trumpcare to a zombie, and urged activists to treat it as such.
Treat Trumpcare like a zombie: just because it's dead doesn't mean you stop killing it. Cut off it's head, limbs. Destroy it again & again.— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) July 18, 2017
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Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org, said in a statement Monday night that the legislation's collapse is a profound "relief" for the 22 million who were at risk of losing coverage and an "astonishing victory" for "the hundreds of thousands of activists who called their senators, attended town halls, and stood up against this bill."
"But we know that, for more than seven years, Republicans have been determined to take a wrecking ball to the Affordable Care Act and the protections it provides," Galland concluded. "They will not give up. And neither will we."
"In the end, the biggest impact of Trump and the Republicans' attack on healthcare may be this: it has strengthened the resolve of many, many Americans to fight for healthcare for all."
—Working Families PartyThis sentiment has been echoed by activists across the country who are planning to participate in mass demonstrations in the coming days. Indivisible alone has more than 160 events slated for Tuesday, a signal to Republican senators that any effort to strip healthcare from millions of Americans in order to provide massive tax cuts to the wealthy will face fierce opposition.
Other groups—including Our Revolution and National Nurses United—have planned actions as well; Wednesday is expected to draw over 500 activists from around the country to Capitol Hill.
Following McConnell's announcement on Monday night, the Working Families Party declared that Trumpcare's defeat demonstrates the power of "an energized and activated progressive base" and urged everyone to celebrate this victory, "if only for a moment."
"Trumpcare has never been about healthcare, not for a second. It's been an obsessive crusade to give massive tax cuts to some of the richest people who have ever lived, paid for by stealing healthcare away from tens of millions of our fellow Americans," the group said. "In the end, the biggest impact of Trump and the Republicans' attack on healthcare may be this: it has strengthened the resolve of many, many Americans to fight for healthcare for all."