When 217 Republicans voted for the American Health Care Act (AHCA) last week, many were concerned with only one thing: job protection. Or, more properly put, to cover their asses. I’ve never seen a better example of that time-honored exercise in Congress than that one act.
Many members then made these sick and sorry PUBLIC admissions: not reading the bill - not knowing what was in it - having absolutely no idea what it cost - no consideration for what would be added to the national debt - no concept of its affects on real human beings - no humanitarian concern for 24 millions (or more) people losing health insurance - nothing! Just one big, right-out-in-the-open vote based on a purely selfish personal reason: continued employment.
The traditional method of creating legislation under the rules of the U.S. House involves many steps. Unless a national emergency is involved, the normal time for bills to go from introduction to a final vote is about eight months. Sometimes, more than a year.
Nearly all members of Congress have at least one person on staff to review bills page-by-page. Some have several legislative readers. It’s not unusual for a Congressman not to read all bills, opting for a review summary from staff. Most often written. Very common.
But this “normal” process wasn’t part of the AHCA vote. It couldn’t have been. Because the printed bill to be acted upon was basically a few pages - a summary itself - lacking details of final legislation. Like cost. I believe it was done that way for three reasons.
First, leadership knew the Senate would never pass what was being sent over. So, there was no use writing a couple thousand pages of legislation that wouldn’t survive. Second, the Senate would insist on writing its own bill which would go to a conference committee to work out the differences, resulting in basically a third bill.
But, most Congress watchers believe the third reason got the highest (some would argue lowest) GOP consideration. That was to score some sort of legislative victory for themselves and the president. Like seeming to kill Obamacare while not actually doing it. No consideration for the 24 million (or more) Americans who would lose health insurance. No thought of cost. Absolutely no redeeming value once passed. Just pure partisan politics. And some ass saving.
There’s one aspect of forcing that damnable legislation through I’d like to know about but never will. And that’s what kind of pork barrel goodies were promised members for “yes” votes. Some years ago, Congress vowed to stop pork barrel practices. But there’s pork and then there’s “pork.”
Like future leadership roles and committee chairmanships. And bigger office suites, betterf/more parking spots, increased office budgets, larger staffs, more travel and any new perk you can dream up to make life more pleasant. As I said, there’s pork. Then there’s “pork.” Hope someone will include those details in a future book.
Finally, Democrats and the media keep talking about voter anger at home and negative repercussions for Republicans who voted for AHCA. Well, maybe yes. And, maybe no.
Yes, there may be a few GOP “victims” But, after years of gerrymandering, most Republicans are in pretty secure districts. Like Idaho and Eastern Oregon. Primary opponents and Democrats in the general election would have to be awfully strong and widely based to bring someone down. There would have to be a very high turnout in an off-year election which is not typical. And, consider supporters who would “forgive and forget” a single disagreeable vote if the member is otherwise doing the job and making “good” votes. Threats to job security may not be as widespread as speculators think.
But, this you can take to the bank. What we witnessed was the most flagrant public display of “voter-be-damned,” arrogant, in-your-face, self-serving political B.S. in memory. Good of the country, impact on an anxious public, dollar and personal costs to taxpayers, basic right and wrong were never part of the discussion.
For too many Republican House members “sold” their “yes” votes for all to see, it was an exercise in ass saving. The question is, how many of those asses were worth the saving. To me, not many.