Op­po­si­tion to GOP health bill

Trump urges quick ac­tion; protest held at Booz­man’s of­fice

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Erica Werner, Alan Fram, Bruce Schreiner, An­drew Tay­lor and Ri­cardo Alonso-Zaldivar of The As­so­ci­ated Press; and by Frank E. Lockwood of the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette.

A demon­stra­tor is taken into cus­tody by U.S. Capi­tol Po­lice as ac­tivists protest Mon­day against the Repub­li­can health care bill out­side the of­fices of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Capi­tol Hill.

WASH­ING­TON — Repub­li­cans strug­gled with their di­vi­sions over health care Mon­day as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pres­sured GOP sen­a­tors to act quickly and Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence sug­gested they might have to re­vert to a straight­for­ward “Oba­macare” re­peal if they can’t agree on an al­ter­na­tive.

Con­sen­sus on a re­place­ment con­tin­ued to elude sen­a­tors as they re­turned to the Capi­tol from their Fourth of July re­cess. Some law­mak­ers spent the break fac­ing crit­ics of Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell’s bill, or voic­ing crit­i­cism of their own. But Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Repub­li­can, told re­porters that a re­vised bill would be un­veiled this week and that “the goal con­tin­ues to be” to vote next week.

McCon­nell post­poned a vote last month, lack­ing GOP sup­port for the leg­is­la­tion.

To suc­ceed, the new leg­is­la­tion will have to ad­dress the con­cerns of con­ser­va­tives like Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas, who want a more full-blown re­peal, and mod­er­ates like Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who want the op­po­site, a more gen­er­ous bill.

McCon­nell has lit­tle room for er­ror as he tries to pass a bill with 50 GOP votes, with Pence as the tie-breaker, in a Sen­ate that has 52 Repub­li­cans. Some GOP sen­a­tors are ques­tion­ing McCon­nell’s par­ti­san ap­proach, and the ma­jor­ity leader him­self ac­knowl­edged to a home-state au­di­ence in Ken­tucky last week that if he can’t get the job done with Repub­li­cans alone, he’ll have to turn to Democrats to shore up the mar­ket for in­di­vid­ual in­sur­ance buy­ers.

Collins, re­fer­ring to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act, passed in 2010 with­out a sin­gle Repub­li­can vote, told re­porters: “I be­lieve that we should not re­peat the mis­take that Pres­i­dent Obama made in pass­ing ma­jor leg­is­la­tion with no sup­port from the other party.”

Un­der­scor­ing the di­vi­sions within the GOP, Pence ap­peared on con­ser­va­tive host Rush Lim­baugh’s ra­dio show to rule out work­ing with Democrats.

“The pres­i­dent’s made it very clear. We be­lieve if they can’t pass this care­fully crafted re­peal and re­place bill, do those two things si­mul­ta­ne­ously, we ought to just re­peal only” and then turn to re­place­ment leg­is­la­tion later, Pence said, al­though Trump has at times dan­gled the prospect of work­ing with Democrats.

Few Repub­li­cans on Capi­tol Hill be­lieve a re­peal bill could pass Congress with­out a re­place­ment.

The vice pres­i­dent made his com­ments af­ter Trump be­gan his day with a tweet aimed at Sen­ate Repub­li­cans: “I can­not imag­ine that Congress would dare to leave Wash­ing­ton with­out a beau­ti­ful new Health­Care bill fully ap­proved and ready to go!”

Congress is be­gin­ning a three-week sprint be­fore its tra­di­tional five-week Au­gust re­cess, which some law­mak­ers have sug­gested should be short­ened or even can­celed if they can’t get health care done first.

The House passed health care leg­is­la­tion in May af­ter strug­gles of its own to reach agree­ment. Both the House and Sen­ate bills elim­i­nate the Af­ford­able Care Act’s man­dates for peo­ple to buy in­sur­ance, grad­u­ally undo an ex­pan­sion of Med­i­caid, and re­duce the size of the fed­eral-state health care pro­gram for the poor and dis­abled. The mea­sures would cut taxes for the wealthy.

Both bills would re­sult in more than 20 mil­lion fewer peo­ple be­ing on in­sur­ance rolls over the next decade.

Around 80 demon­stra­tors op­posed to the leg­is­la­tion were ar­rested around the Capi­tol com­plex Mon­day, ac­cord­ing to U.S. Capi­tol Po­lice.

About 10 pro­test­ers shout­ing slo­gans such as “health care is a hu­man right” were led away from the cor­ri­dor out­side the of­fice of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Pro­test­ers also gath­ered at the of­fices of Sens. John Booz­man, R-Ark., and Cory Gard­ner, R-Colo.

At least 13 of those ar­rested were from Arkansas, ac­cord­ing to Kim Benyr, an ac­tivist from Bella Vista who ac­com­pa­nied the group but was not de­tained.

Eight were from North­west Arkansas while the other five were from Lit­tle Rock, she added.

The Arkansans were ar­rested af­ter protest­ing in Booz­man’s of­fice. Ac­tivists last month held sim­i­lar protests at fel­low Arkansas Repub­li­can Sen. Tom Cot­ton’s of­fice on Capi­tol Hill.

Pro­test­ers chanted “Kill the bill, don’t kill us,” Benyr said.

The ac­tivists want to know whether Booz­man sup­ports or op­poses the leg­is­la­tion that has been wind­ing its way through Congress.

“He’s not re­ally taken a po­si­tion ei­ther way. We’re try­ing to get him to com­mit,” Benyr said.

Booz­man has said the Af­ford­able Care Act isn’t work­ing and that the ex­ist­ing sys­tem needs to be changed. He has promised to work with his col­leagues to come up with a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive.

At least 13 of those ar­rested were from Arkansas, ac­cord­ing to Kim Benyr, an ac­tivist from Bella Vista who ac­com­pa­nied the group but was not de­tained.

AP/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

AP/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

Ac­tivists protest­ing against the Repub­li­can health care bill out­side Sen­ate of­fices are taken into cus­tody by U.S. Capi­tol Po­lice on Mon­day on Capi­tol Hill.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.