Inspired by the news that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set the schedule for Trumpcare with a vote next week, Senate Democrats took to the floor for an extended talk-a-thon Monday night. They hammered again and again on the life-and-death harm it would do to Americans as well as the profoundly undemocratic process McConnell was following in crafting the bill. Even West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin got in on the action, telling McConnell "Bring us in. Bring us in, let's talk. Let's fix it."
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer kicked the evening off with an exchange with McConnell, offering a closed door bipartisan meeting with all 100 senators to talk about it. McConnell refused. Schumer asked for more than 10 hours ahead of the vote to review the bill. McConnell wouldn't say more than "I think we'll have ample opportunity to read and amend the bill." All in all, Democrats made 15 requests for the bill to be heard in committee and to go through normal procedure. McConnell blocked every one.
Senators were also on Facebook live throughout the evening, with Oregon’s Ron Wyden telling viewers, "You can make sure that all senators understand how strongly you feel about this flawed bill. Remember political change is bottoms up." Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada blasted the all-male death panel McConnell created to draft the bill—"several men are behind closed doors"—calling it a
"a travesty." Ed Markey of Massachusetts renewed the request for the bill to go through committee, and McConnell objected.
California Sen. Kamala Harris quoted popular vote loser Donald Trump. "Even though the authors of this bill have tried to conceal their plan this bill would be nothing short of disaster. We've been told it's about 80 percent the same as the bill passed by the House. A bill so catastrophic that even the president, who hailed its passage, now called it 'mean.'" Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine asked "where are the Republicans," inviting them to come to the floor to debate with them. Bernie Sanders of Vermont pointed out that even Republican senators hadn't seen the bill. "It should tell you something that major, major legislation is being written at this moment and most Republicans don't have a clue what's in that legislation," Sanders said. He then asked McConnell: "What are you afraid of?"
Washington's Maria Cantwell wondered what happened to Trump's campaign promise that Medicaid wouldn't be cut and asked Republicans to "live up to that."
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren blasted the effort as a "tax cut for billionaires."
"I have a message for these Senate Republicans: We don't care how long we have to stand up here. ...Democrats are here to keep demanding that you show us this bill, and we're going to keep insisting that you account for its shameful contents," she said.
Oregon's Jeff Merkley spoke several times, calling Trumpcare a "vampire" bill, and reminding McConnell of his 2009 statement about Obamacare, when McConnell said "fast-tracking a major legislative overhaul such as healthcare reform or a new national energy tax without the benefit of a full and transparent debate does a disservice to the American people." "What happened to that value?" asked Merkley. Minnesota Sen. Al Franken picked up that theme. "The irony is palpable. Feel the palpable irony. [...] Feel it Mr. President? Does everybody feel it?"
McConnell won't feel any shame. He's incapable of it. The next week will tell if any of his Republican colleagues still have the capacity for human decency.
Write a letter to your Democratic Senator(s), thanking them for fighting McConnell's outrageous conduct—and urging that they continue to stop Trumpcare by denying unanimous consent.