Trumpcare passed the House on May 4. First, let’s recognize something remarkable about that: We all thought that Donald Trump would be signing an ACA repeal bill four months earlier on his first day in office. That didn’t happen. It didn’t happen because of you and your hard work. Instead, Republicans failed twice to pass their Trumpcare bill, and then only narrowly got it through the House.
House Republicans don’t know the impact of their bill, but they’ll own it
We will hold Republicans responsible for this bill. The vote on this bill was held without hearings, without a score from the Congressional Budget Office analyzing its full impact, and without giving members enough time to even read the bill. Nonetheless, with a razor-thin margin, House Republicans rammed their deeply unpopular Trumpcare bill through the House. Make sure to hold them accountable for this vote, now and for the rest of their careers.
What’s next for the bill? The Senate
Trumpcare now moves on to the Senate, where it will need a simple majority to pass. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate, which means they can only afford to lose two votes. If it was hard for Republicans to pass Trumpcare in the House, we have the power to make it even harder for Republican senators. There are also questions about whether all of the provisions in the House bill meet the stricter Senate requirements, meaning the bill will need to get changed further—or change the rules, which they will do unless they feel public pressure not to.
Either way, the Senate is unlikely to vote on the bill in its current form. One of the arguments House Republican leadership made to convince moderate Republicans to support the bill was that the Senate would temper the worst of it. But that is far from certain. Some senators may be hoping for an easy out by only making superficial changes. That is why constituents need to push their senators to answer to the full dangers of Trumpcare now.
Oh, and then it goes back to the House
Even if Republicans manage to get their ACA repeal bill through the Senate, they’ll have to reconcile differences between Senate and House versions, meaning the House will have to do this all over again. The House will either have to pass the Senate version of the bill, which will be even harder for Speaker Ryan to get done, or they’ll need to go to what’s known as a conference committee.
When the Senate and House are unable to pass the same exact bill, they form a separate committee to try to work out the differences. The committee is composed of members from both parties, and both houses and the bill undergo a number of additional changes. Assuming the conference committee can reach an agreement, which again will be difficult, the compromise bill will then need to get passed in both the House and Senate.
Timing and resistance moving forward
Unlike House Republicans, senators have said they want to know what the full impact of Trumpcare will be before they vote on it. They will wait for a CBO score before moving forward, so it will be a week or two before any vote can occur. But they have already started negotiations, which means the time to put on the pressure is now.
Fortunately, the Senate is different than the House. It moves slower and is responsive to different pressures. That’s why you’ll have real influence over Trumpcare at several levels during this process moving forward:
• Most importantly, let your two senators know that Trumpcare is unfixable (here are 10 reason why). Tell them you expect them to oppose ACA repeal.
• If Republicans manage to bring Trumpcare for a vote in the Senate, remind your two senators they will have to answer for their vote for the rest of their careers.
• If Trumpcare passes the Senate, keep the pressure on both House and Senate members to try to stop them from passing an ACA repeal bill. (Let’s hope the bill doesn’t make it this far.)
The ACA remains the law of the land. The only thing that has changed is that now you know whether your members of Congress care more about the well-being of you and your family, or giving Donald Trump a few political points. There are many more steps in the legislative process left before this bill ever reaches Trump’s desk, and many opportunities for you to help stop it.
This article was originally published by indivisibleguide.com. It has been edited for YES! Magazine.