Mike Pence does abortion foes’ bidding, tanks Obamacare fix, with an assist from Susan Collins

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

Congress was on the verge of taking up the Obamacare stabilization legislation brokered by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) last month, when a last-minute and secret meeting between anti-abortion groups and Vice President Mike Pence torpedoed it.

Amid opposition from conservatives in the House of Representatives, a group of pro-life activists met with Pence to lobby the Trump administration against supporting a health-insurance market-stabilization bill on the grounds that it does not contain sufficient language on abortion restrictions, according to sources with direct knowledge of the meeting. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was also in attendance at the Dec. 19 meeting, three of the sources said.

The next day, key lawmakers involved in crafting the legislation announced they were punting on the issue until 2018.

A vote on that legislation was one of the conditions Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) had for her yes vote on the massive tax bill that repeals Obamacare’s individual mandate. Collins, ostensibly one of the last pro-choice Republicans to roam the earth, pretended that this stabilization bill was critical to stopping that mandate repeal from causing so many people to lose insurance. It would not. Collins didn’t get that vote, obviously, and may or may not have known McConnell was breaking his promise to her to appease the forced-birthers. So I guess now she’ll know.

Collins didn’t do this all by herself, of course. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Bob Corker (R-TN) also collapsed, giving up their opposition with even flimsier excuses than Collins’s. But had she held firm, she might have given them a bit of spine. But she didn’t. Now because of that vote and the repeal of the mandate, as well as the response by insurance companies to Trump sabotage means the legislation she was insisting upon is obsolete.

“The Republicans want the bill. My question is, with the change in the marketplace that they created with the tax bill, is it still going to work? We don’t have the answer,” Murray, the co-creator of the compromise bill, told The Daily Beast. “The marketplace has changed dramatically. So we’re looking at it.”

Collins has moved her own goalposts again, now saying that as long as this legislation—which is now pretty much useless—passes by 2019, she’s okay with that. She’s also saying, implicitly, that she’s okay with the anti-choice lobby calling all the shots when it comes to healthcare policy.