The call went out Monday night, summoning health activists to gather at 5:30 a.m. the next morning at a local Washington D.C. church. They were going to bus to the home of two Senate Republicans and tell them why they adamantly opposed the GOP health care bills.
This was not their first health care protest; many were arrested less than a month ago after participating in congressional sit-ins at the Capitol. And it would not be their last protest. Health activists told ThinkProgress that the resistance will continue as long as lawmakers’ continue their efforts to disrupt current health care law.
Tuesday morning’s protest would be more unorthodox than the last. The protest — quite literally an orchestrated wake up call to two Senate Republicans — was a response to health care legislating that defies all norms. Health activists and so-called lefties are not the only people troubled by the current health legislation process. Former GOP senators, current GOP senators, and bipartisan health organizations have all openly criticized the lack of transparency around Tuesday’s health care vote.
Tuesday, the senate is going to vote on a mystery health bill. Technically, they’ll vote to hear debate on the not so-mysterious House-passed bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). What proceeds Tuesday’s “motion to proceed” vote is at the crux of health activists resistance movement.
After 20 hours of debate, Senate Republicans will amend AHCA with either a repeal-only ACA bill (the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act) or a repeal-and-replacement ACA bill (the Better Care Reconciliation Act). Both bills are equally problematic, and are subject to change until they are formally introduced to the Senate floor.
Protesters bused from Washington, D.C. to Virginia, where Senator John Boozman (R-AR) was said to reside. Boozman has not definitively said where he stands on the health care legislation. Health protesters — who hailed from Vermont, Arkansas, New York, and elsewhere — looked to change that.
Around 50 people crowded Boozman’s home in the tree-lined Alexandria, Virginia suburb. Protesters rang the doorbell, looking to give the senator coffee and share stories from Arkansas residents. When no one answered, protesters shouted stories instead, hoping he would hear. Irate neighbors eventually called local police. But before the situation escalated, protesters left. This was the first of two scheduled protests Tuesday — they couldn’t get arrested now.
Next, protesters bused back to Washington, D.C., and knocked on the door of Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). Portman allegedly struck a deal that would add $100 billion to the bill’s stabilization fund under BCRA, according to Axios reporter Caitlin Owens. A number of protesters weren’t surprised by the news, but they weren’t discouraged by it either. “Got to keep the pressure on them,” said one protester.
While health activists took to the streets this morning, President Donald Trump mounted his own pressure online. He demanded yet again that Republican Senators bring him a health bill before breaking for August recess.
Big day for HealthCare. After 7 years of talking, we will soon see whether or not Republicans are willing to step up to the plate!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
Tuesday could go one of two ways. The Senate could officially start debate on legislation that would repeal and replace the ACA, or its efforts could fall apart entirely. Even so, the ACA will continue to be under threat during a Trump administration.