Appearing in Manhattan last night, Massachusetts Sen.Â Elizabeth Warren called on the audience to to reach out to family and acquaintances in Republican districts and warn them of the dangers of the GOPâ€™s plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Actâ€”and proclaimed that conservative lawmakers have to be held to the fire if they want to â€œpass a bill that even Donald Trump called mean.â€�
Senate Republicans have said that they are still working on its own version of the American Healthcare Act, which passed the House in May. But it is unclear how different the upper chamber version of the legislation will be, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his GOP colleagues have constructed the bill in secret, irking many critics.
Warren told a hundreds-strong crowd that all Democrats â€œhave locked armsâ€� in opposition to the plan, but since their conference controls just 48 seats in the 100-member body, â€œwe gotta have some help from the Republican side.â€�
â€œWe go everywhere we can to talk about this but we need to go all across this country in this fight. We need people right here in this room,â€� she said, urging the attendees at the Town Hall to reach out to friends and family across the nation. â€œWeâ€™re gonna make democracy work.â€�
The Senate bill is expected to phase out Obamacareâ€™s expansion of Medicaid more steadily than the House version of the bill, and have bigger tax credits to permit more older Americans to get health insurance, the New York TimesÂ reported. The House bill also enabled states to redefine what constituted a pre-existing condition, which the Congressional Budget OfficeÂ determined that, coupled with the legislationâ€™s provisions eliminating requirements that large employers offer insurance, would deprive roughly 23 million people of healthcare.
This week, Trump reportedly referred referred to the House version of the legislation as â€œmean.â€�
Warren said that New York has â€œtwo great senatorsâ€� in Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who are â€œin the right placeâ€� but that â€œeverybody in this roomâ€� knows someone who lives in a state represented by a Republicanâ€”and encouraged them to call, email or text them about the dangers of the pending healthcare bill.
â€œWe have got to pull more people into this fight because we have got to make it clear to the Republicans in the Senate that we are watching and that if they destroy our healthcare system, if they wanna pass a bill that even Donald Trump called mean, that if they wanna do that, then we are gonna hold them accountable,â€� she said. â€œThatâ€™s what weâ€™ve got to do.â€�
Because the AHCA is a fiscal bill, the Senate Republicans could pass it in the budget reconciliation processâ€”meaning Schumer, Gillibrand and the rest of the Democratic caucus do not have recourse to the filibuster.Â Warren lambasted McConnell for working on the legislation secretly.
â€œYouâ€™re right to be worried,â€� she said. â€œIâ€™m worried. Mitch McConnell is not just writing it in secret. He has 13 men writing it in secret behind closed doors. This is no joke.â€�
She reiterated her belief that the legislation only serves to benefit wealthy individuals instead of everyday Americans.
â€œNever forget the other half of this,â€� she said. â€œWhy? So that they can create massive tax breaks for a handful of millionaires and billionaires. This not a healthcare bill. This is a tax loophole for people at the very top.â€�
Warren, who was introduced by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, was in town to promote her new book, â€œThe Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save Americaâ€™s Middle Class.â€� She read passages from the book to the audience.
During the question-and-answer sessions, she also fielded questionsâ€”read aloud by good government academic and former congressional and gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachoutâ€”about the ongoing investigation into Trump ties to the Russian government and Russiaâ€™s interference in the presidential election.
When introducing Warren, Schneiderman said that as much as he runs around â€œassembling legal teams to challenge the malevolent, destructive policies that flow out of Washington,â€� he always takes time out â€œwhen I can get the counsel, the advice and the guidance from Elizabeth Warren.â€�
He said that she helps him and other attorneys general such as Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey as well as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Chief Richard Cordray, calling her a â€œmentor and a guide to so many of usâ€� and noting that she does a lot publicly, â€œspeaks up, stands upâ€� and â€œwill not be silenced.â€�
â€œYou know the public Elizabeth Warren but what you may not see is her extraordinary generosity in supporting many of us at the core of the legal resistance to the Trump era violence against the American Constitution and the American people,â€� he said.
Before reading out questions during the question-and-answer portion of the event, Teachoutâ€”who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014â€”called Warren â€œmy personal heroâ€� and noted she was â€œreally thrilledâ€� Warren endorsed her bid to represent New Yorkâ€™s 19th Congressional district. She said sheâ€™s â€œsorryâ€� she lost but that â€œweâ€™re not done with the fight.â€�
She recalled a story Warren, whom she first met in late November 2014, told her about a Democrat asking her how to sway voters to their side when â€œa bunch of Democrats were trying to figure out what went wrong.â€� Warren, she said, blasted the idea of convincing people and stressed the importance of doing the actual work.
â€œShe told me this story about a Democrat who called her and said, â€˜You gotta figure out how to convince people that weâ€™re fighting for themâ€™ and she said, â€˜Hell no!â€¦and thatâ€™s who Elizabeth Warren is, just deeply, deeply honest,â€� Teachout told the crowd.