Mike Pence Takes Charge on Senate "Healthcare" Bill

graphically enhanced image of Mike Pence, highlighting his eyes

The Senate "healthcare" bill is in trouble. Mitch McConnell has delayed the vote, a number of Republican Senators are equivocating, and only 17 percent of Americans approve of the bill.

But just because it's in trouble doesn't mean it's dead. Or anywhere close.

The Republicans have no intention of giving up on passing this extraordinarily cruel piece of legislation — including Donald Trump, who doesn't actually care how "mean" it is, as long as it gives him a much-needed win.

So he's dispatching Vice-President Mike Pence to close the deal.

Glenn Thrush and Jonathan Martin at the New York Times report:
Mr. Trump and his staff played a critical role in persuading House Republicans to pass health care legislation in May, with the president personally calling dozens of wavering House members. But the Trump team's heavy-handed tactics have been ineffective in the Senate, and White House officials determined that deploying Vice President Mike Pence, a former congressman with deep ties to many in the Senate, was a better bet than unleashing Mr. Trump on the half-dozen Republicans who will determine the fate of the Senate bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

...[O]ver the past few weeks, the Senate Republican leadership has made it known that it would much rather negotiate with Mr. Pence than a president whose candidacy many did not even take seriously during the 2016 primaries. And some of the White House's efforts have clearly been counterproductive.
It isn't clear if it's the writers taking license there, or if it's the Republican leadership who seemingly view "the White House" and "Mike Pence" as mutually exclusive, but clearly Republican leaders prefer working with Pence, which is something worth noting not only for how effective his outreach will be during this "healthcare" showdown, but also for how much more willing Congress will be to support his agenda, should he ever assume the #1 position in the executive branch.

Pence, in fact, has apparently already been working behind the scenes trying to get this legislation through the Senate: "Pence has been far more active in seeking out Republican senators" for persuasion. And he's dispatched Seema Verma, a former adviser in Indiana who is "now a top administration health care official," to "reassure senators that their states will have flexibility on Medicaid under the bill." Meanwhile, Marc Short, his former chief of staff, who is "now the White House legislative affairs director, has been quarterbacking the effort from his hideaway in the Capitol."

And, unlike his wreck of a boss, Pence knows the details of this bill. He knows what it will take to get McConnell the votes he needs. He doesn't care, even a little, that only 17 percent of Americans want this legislation passed. Representing the people's interests wasn't exactly his thing in Indiana, and it isn't his thing now, either.

Make your calls. This isn't even close to being over. Mike Pence will make certain of that.

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