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Monday, August 21, 2017

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Mitch McConnell is holding the country’s health care hostage in a blacked-out Senate, and millions are rising up in anger.

You’d think a bill that revamps a sixth of the American economy and stands to strip 23 million Americans of their health care might warrant a debate, a public comment period, or god forbid, a public release. Unfortunately, this is Donald Trump’s America, where the most exclusive club is wherever Mitch McConnell and his gang of 13 white men are hiding the latest version of the health care bill—from fellow Republicans, Democrats, the press, and the public.

With McConnell pushing for a pre-July 4 recess vote, and fears of a sequel to May’s House vote, activist groups are pursuing a multi-pronged strategy to protect the Affordable Care Act:

  • Planned Parenthood is holding Pink Out the Night demonstrations in cities and towns across the country, where supporters will rally to protect communities’ access to health care, including reproductive health.

  • Indivisible and MoveOn are holding sit-ins at Senate offices across the country, including in D.C., Maine, and New York. Ohio Indivisible groups unable to secure a town hall with Senator Rob Portman in his state offices showed up on Capitol Hill with stories of how the bill would impact their lives and chanting “No hearings? No vote!”

  • For constituents in 10 states with vulnerable senators up for reelection in 2018, Indivisible created trumpcareten.org, a site with a general game plan and continuously updated digital toolkits for lobbying senators in each of the 10 states, and options to submit amendments to the bill.

  • For constituents in states with Democratic senators, Indivisible recommends calling their offices to ask that they either withhold consent or filibuster to slow down Senate business and prevent a vote.

The message is slowly getting through to Democrats. Activists have suggested withholding consent during Cabinet confirmations, but even fervent Democrats have bristled. Then on Monday night, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said all options, including withholding consent and filibuster by amendment, are on the table.

“This radical departure from normal procedure, on a bill of such consequence,” Schumer said as Democrats held the floor with a series of speeches Monday night, “leaves the Senate minority little choice but to depart from normal procedure as well.”

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.