Email #210: “Republicans are Delivering”?

You have told constituents in private meetings that you’re involved in a lot of bipartisan work behind the scenes. If so, why do you then negate that work in your public statements and in your legislative approach?

Before the House passed your immigration bills last Thursday, your press release headline read: “Goodlatte: House Republicans are Delivering on Promise to Strengthen Immigration Enforcement.” While your anti-sanctuary bill did receive almost exclusive GOP support (I didn’t check names, but 195 Representatives voted against it, and 193 Representatives in the House are Democrats), your so-called “Kate’s Law” passed with the help of 24 Democrats. That’s about 1/7th of the Democrats in the House, so not a resounding bipartisan effort, but still, I applaud the movement in a centrist direction. Why aren’t you?

So you wrote one bill that hardens the Democrat-Republican divide and one that begins the more difficult and important job of building bridges. Which of the two bill do you think has any chance in the Senate?

Similar bills were defeated there last term when the GOP held 54 seats. Now they hold 52. And that slim margin applies only if eight Democrats join all of the Republicans to reach 60 votes to end any filibusters. Maybe Kate’s Law will achieve those thresholds. But why did you write and promote it in such a partisan way knowing that you needed Democratic support for it to reach the President’s desk? Why not craft bills with Democrats in mind? Or at least in such a way that doesn’t intentionally repel them? Why not take advantage of the vast middle ground instead of always pandering to the far right?

I understand why you might feel the need to waste so much legislative time and effort making pointless political statements on an election year, but six months into a new session is a bipartisan opportunity you’re squandering for no reason.

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Email #208: “conversation and collaboration”?

Republican Senator Collins tweeted on Wednesday: “I want to work w/ my GOP & Dem colleagues to fix the flaws in ACA. CBO analysis shows Senate bill won’t do it.”

Democratic Senator Carper also said he’s “reaching out to Republicans who would like to find a principled compromise to fix what needs to be fixed in the Affordable Care Act.” He wants to “foster an environment in which conversation and collaboration could begin in earnest and continue over the Fourth of July recess.”

This is exactly the bipartisan approach our country desperately needs right now. It’s also the approach you have repeatedly claimed to prefer, and yet you have done little to foster it yourself. When it looked like the AHCA wasn’t going to pass in the House, you wrote in one of your newsletters:

“As the health care debate continues, let’s take a look at one aspect of the health care system that has the support of many in both parties. Community Health Centers (CHCs) have long been recognized as a proven and nonpartisan solution to primary care access…. While Community Health Centers existed long before Obamacare, when this law was passed in 2010 it recognized the value of these facilities and made a substantial investment in them. The good work done by CHCs continues to be recognized now. As we work on a new health care solution to replace Obamacare, it is important that CHCs receive support for their work to expand services and access.”

While you continued to insist that the ACA be replaced, you did so without vilifying it or its supporters. This is exactly the approach the GOP should have taken from the start. Yet a month later when the amended AHCA moved to the divided Senate, you returned to your divisive rhetoric about the “death spiral” of “Obamacare.”

The ACHA/BCRA is now finally moving in a centrist direction. Republican Senator Corker said: “The initial draft bill really didn’t provide an opportunity for low-income citizens to buy healthcare that actually covered them, so that equation is going to change.”

That likely means an amendment preserving the ACA’s tax on high-income earners. If that happens, the bill is going to lose support from the far right in both the Senate and the House. But those lost votes can be offset by centrist Democrats—unless the GOP’s relentless partisan attacks on the ACA continue to push both sides away from that middle ground.

If the Senate abandons the BCRA in its current form and instead begins to work on a centrist solution to our country’s healthcare needs, will you pledge to support their efforts?