Buoyed by Republican disagreements over how to replace the Affordable Care Act, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer told progressives Monday night that the Democrats were not going to throw the “flummoxed” majority party any lifelines.
“Not a single Democrat is negotiating,” Schumer said on a call organized by MoveOn and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “We ain’t resting until the move to repeal the ACA has a dagger through its heart.”
Schumer, who has sometimes been viewed skeptically by progressives — and breaks with them on Middle East policy — jumped on the call during the Democrats’ marathon of ACA speeches on the Senate floor. As he spoke, five Republican senators were signing onto an amendment to the budget resolution that would delay repeal of the ACA, widely known as Obamacare, until it could be packaged with a replacement. The House Freedom Caucus, composed of conservatives who were inclined to vote for repeal, expressed similar nervousness after its first meeting of the year at Tortilla Coast, a restaurant near the Capitol.
Those delays would leave Republicans with plenty of time to push for repeal and do not affect the incoming Trump administration’s ability to reverse the executive orders and HHS regulations that have shaped the law’s enforcement. But Democrats, aiming to present Republicans as clueless and divided, are highlighting Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) push for a replacement package (just one-quarter of Republicans supported his version of the budget, which would balance in five years) and the letter from center-right Republicans asking for a plan.
“Trump himself is a wild card who can throw his party under the bus,” said MoveOn’s Ben Wikler on the call, which kicked off a week of progressive activism that will culminate in rallies this Sunday. “He could be one of our secret weapons. Never forget that this — repealing the ACA without a replacement — is a deeply unpopular idea, with 20 percent support.”