Last night Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and John McCain delivered a reprieve not just for millions of people whose health care hung in the balance, but for the institution of the Senate and maybe even the republic. It’s impossible to overstate just how not normal this whole fiasco has been. Every false charge Republicans ever leveled against the process Democrats were forced to resort to in order to pass the Affordable Care Act in the first place became the blueprint for how they proceeded over the past months.
The first lie was that Republicans were entirely shut out of the process of crafting Obamacare. That lie has persisted for eight years, since meetings—bipartisan meetings—began on Obamacare in 2009. Just to recap that process, the Senate Health Committee had 60 hours of debate and mark-up for the bill, then the Finance Committee took it up and spent eight days in mark-up—more time than they’d spent on revising and amending a bill in 20 years. There were 130 bipartisan amendments considered, with 79 roll call votes taken. The bill was on the Senate floor for 25 days straight.
For seven years, Republicans have been portraying all that as Democrats shutting them out of the process, writing the bill in a dark room, springing them on it at the last minute, and forcing the vote on Christmas Eve. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has an entire web page devoted to that fiction with the headline “FLASHBACK: Democrats’ ‘Secret’ Closed Door Obamacare Process” screaming across the top.
That was the fever dream that actually provided the blueprint for McConnell’s drive to repeal the ACA.