Senate Democrats Hold Late-Night Talkathon Against Obamacare Repeal

Senate Democrats held a late-night talkathon Monday to protest Republican lawmakers’ push to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

The process Republicans are undertaking is known as reconciliation.

“We will fight this repeal with every fiber of our being,” Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said when he took the floor around 11:30 p.m. “We will not, we will not, go gently into that good night.”

C-SPAN broadcast the event live:

During the talkathon, Schumer said:

My Democratic colleagues and I are holding the floor tonight to demonstrate our solidarity and our commitment to defending the Affordable Care Act. It’s not just defending some abstract law. It’s not about protecting President Obama’s legacy or Democrats’ legacy. It’s about people. It’s about the American people and defending their access to health care. … That’s why Democrats have held the floor tonight.

Earlier, Schumer issued a statement previewing the talkathon:

We cannot allow Republicans to make America sick again by repealing the ACA without a replacement plan that will ensure millions of Americans are not kicked off of their insurance, seniors do not face cuts to their Medicare, women are not denied access to care because of their gender, and many other groups, including Medicaid recipients, do not suffer.

The #MASA (Make American Sick Again) hashtag has been created in response to Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare. It is a play on President-elect Trump’s campaign slogan (Make America Great Again) on which he ran and won.

The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to vote Wednesday or Thursday on a budget resolution that will pave the way for repealing the law. The vote is part of a series or marathon of voting known as “vote-a-rama.” Republicans, who have a 52-seat Senate majority, will need 50 votes to repeal Obamacare.

Senate Democrats also livestreamed the video event coinciding with the floor protests. It reportedly included groups like Families USA, Planned Parenthood, and the Service Employees International Union. They also used the social media platform Snapchat to send their message to Americans.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) closed out the talkathon at 12:16 a.m. EST by reading a letter of thanks from a psychotherapist named Martha who lives in Montclair, NJ, and who wrote the Democrats in favor of keeping Obamacare in place.

Booker is among several Democratic Senators who will testify against President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as his attorney general.

Following a meeting with President Barack Obama, President-elect Donald Trump said he intends to keep two crucial aspects of the ACA; namely, coverage for anyone with a preexisting medical condition and allowing parents to keep their children on their plan until the age of 26.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — who appeared in a CNN town hall at George Washington University in the evening — also took to social media Monday to protest against the Republicans, using abortion as the main thrust of his support for Obamacare. During his run for president, Sanders had also pushed for Medicare and single-payer health care for everyone:

Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said the budget bill Republicans will use to begin Obamacare’s repeal will include language that would seek to eliminate Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding. “Planned Parenthood legislation would be in our reconciliation bill,” Ryan reportedly said.

Senator Paul, who is also a physician, argued in a tweet on Monday that the current law must be replaced with “real market reforms.” He said details on his plan are forthcoming:

In an op-ed he penned last week at Rare, Paul suggested Americans should choose “freedom,” namely “the freedom to choose inexpensive insurance free of government dictates.”

On Monday, the Washington Examiner reported that a group of Republican senators, wary about repealing Obamacare without a replacement, introduced an amendment seeking to delay the repeal until at least March.

Four other Republicans joined Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) to sponsor the bill and introduce the amendment, which will be voted on later this week. They are Rob Portman (R-OH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz.


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