Progressive groups celebrated their latest victory over the Republican-led Congress Tuesday after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would not go to a vote this week as planned.
The decision came a day after more than 200 members of ADAPT, the national disability rights group, stormed a hearing on the bill, chanting, "Kill the bill, don't kill us!" and "No cuts to Medicaid!"
Murshed Zaheed, political director of CREDO Action, the social change network which has also mobilized against Trumpcare, credited the protesters with helping to push the Republicans to abandon the bill.
"The GOP attempt to rip coverage away from millions of Americans has once again crumbled in the face of furious opposition."—Ben Wikler, MoveOn
"Progressive grassroots activists just saved health care coverage for tens of millions of Americans—yet again," he said. "Despite Mitch McConnell's best efforts, even some Senate Republicans realized that this bill was too cruel to support."
Leah Greenberg and Ezra Levin of Indivisible said, "Despite repeated attempts, Trump's number one legislative priority remains a pipe dream nine months into this Congress. The unified conservative federal government's attempt to strip health care away from millions failed for one simple reason: people across the country stood up and fought back."
McConnell's announcement also came a day after Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) officially announced she would not back the bill, becoming the third Republican to come out against it. With all 42 Democrats and two independents lining up against Graham-Cassidy, which the Brookings Institution estimated would eliminate health coverage for 32 million Americans over the next decade, McConnell could only afford to lose two Republican votes. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and John McCain (R--Ariz.) had said earlier that they would not support the bill.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Monday that the bill would severely cut Medicaid and would leave millions of people without comprehensive health insurance. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said earlier this month that the block grants provided by Graham-Cassidy to replace Medicaid funding and subsidies for lower-income Americans would be "inadequate."
The protests staged by ADAPT on Monday gained national attention, as more than 100 people were arrested by Capitol police. Some were carried out or dragged out of their wheelchairs during the arrests.
ADAPT was continuing demonstrations on Tuesday when the news broke that the vote would not take place. Jeff Stein, a reporter for Vox who's been covering the group's protests, relayed a brief statement by an ADAPT activist about McConnell's decision:
"BOOYAH," one activist says— Jeff Stein (@JStein_Vox) September 26, 2017
Despite their jubilation, though, the group continued its demonstration at the Health and Human Services Department, aimed at Secretary Tom Price, regarding the impact the Republicans' continued efforts to repeal the ACA would have on Americans with disabilities.
Other grassroots groups also showed no signs of resting, stressing that the Obama-era healthcare law that many millions of Americans rely on won't be safe as long as Republicans are leading Congress.
"Unfortunately, we know that Republicans will never give up on their cynical efforts to steal your health care," said Zaheed. "We will stay vigilant to ensure that any future effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act is met with unwavering grassroots resistance.”
"The GOP attempt to rip coverage away from millions of Americans has once again crumbled in the face of furious opposition," said Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn. "But it's now clear that healthcare repeal will remain a threat until Republicans no longer control Congress and the White House. Republicans' fealty to their extreme-right donors at the expense of their voters and all Americans can only be addressed through an electoral landslide that destroys the GOP's political power as surely as Graham-Cassidy would have destroyed Americans' health care."