Democrats furious after the House GOP’s Thursday vote to repeal and replace ObamaCare are vowing to take out their anger at the ballot box in 2018, believing the vote gives them the energy they need to reclaim the House and defend key Senate seats next cycle.
As Republicans celebrated their legislative victory on the floor of the House, Democrats taunted their GOP colleagues by waving salutations and singing “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”
Democrats sang “na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” to Republicans on the House floor after the health care vote pic.twitter.com/QInaAm0eJ6
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) May 4, 2017
The Democratic National Committee and the party’s campaign arms in the House and Senate kicked into overdrive with fundraising appeals, robocalls and digital ads attacking vulnerable Republicans.
“Republicans will pay a steep political price in 2018 for forcing working families to pay higher premiums so the wealthy can get another massive tax giveaway,” said Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
Democrats need to pick up 24 seats to win a majority in the House.
It’s a steep climb, but liberals believe they have momentum on their side. Activists have turned out in force over the last few months to protest GOP lawmakers at town hall events in the run up to Thursday’s vote.
Fourteen Republicans who voted for the bill are from districts won by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE in 2016.
But the 20 GOP lawmakers who voted against the bill — many of them Democratic targets from swing districts — will also be the subject of healthcare-related attacks.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm for House Democrats, launched Facebook and Instagram ads targeting 30 GOP members, including several that voted against the bill.
“Make no mistake about it: every single House Republican bears the responsibility for this heartless legislation, and the passage of this bill will haunt them through Election Day,” said DCCC chairman Rep. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.).
Meanwhile, the Senate map heavily favors Republicans, who will be defending only eight seats, compared to 25 for Democrats. Ten Democrats are running in states that President Trump won in 2016, suggesting that they’re especially vulnerable.
But midterm elections are historically difficult for the party represented by the sitting president, and Democrats believe that Thursday’s vote puts more wind in their sails.
“The vote they just cast to take healthcare away from the people they represent will be front and center when they face their constituents,” said Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names Tim Scott to introduce GOP police reform bill next week MORE (D-Ill.) “The Senate won’t save them from being held accountable for this craven vote.”
The GOP healthcare bill could change dramatically and faces a difficult path through the Senate. Still, Democrats say they’ll hold all Republicans to the House vote, regardless of the outcome in the upper chamber.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee bought non-skippable YouTube ads targeting purple-state Republican Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism Kelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Trump asserts his power over Republicans MORE (Ariz.) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (Nev.), the two most vulnerable Senate Republicans on the ballot in 2018.
“To Senators Heller and Flake, and every other potential GOP Senate candidate, our message is simple: you own this plan and we will hold you accountable,” said DSCC spokesman David Bergstein.
Republican lawmakers celebrated their victory at the White House and maintained that they’re doing exactly what voters sent them to Washington to do.
“Over the next year on the campaign trail, Democrats must answer why they stand in opposition to providing any relief at all from this unmitigated disaster of a law,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Matt Gorman.
Still, it was a difficult vote for many Republicans, as evidenced by the 20 GOP lawmakers who voted against the bill. Many of the no votes came from lawmakers in competitive swing districts, including Reps. Mike Coffman (Colo.), Will Hurd (Texas), Barbara Comstock (Va.) and Patrick Meehan (Pa.).
The NRCC committed to backing Republican incumbents, whether or not they voted for the bill.
“Though the NRCC certainly is grateful to those who supported the bill, we recognize that not all in our party did,” Gorman said. “We constantly tell our candidates and members that, above all, they need to listen to and fit the districts they represent. No one has a better understanding of their constituents than them. No matter where they voted today, the NRCC supports our members and will be behind them 100 percent in 2018 as we continue to expand our Republican majority.”
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), a top target for Democrats who voted for repeal, released a lengthy four-paragraph statement in Spanish and English defending his vote to repeal. Curbelo argued that the bill will still go through substantial changes and pointed to hospitals in his South Florida district he said will benefit from the legislation.
“Today’s vote is just a step in the legislative process for this bill — not the end of it. We have worked hard to improve the legislation, but we have a long way to go,” Curbelo said. “I have received assurances that the concerns I maintain will be addressed in the Senate, and for weeks I have been in contact with several offices there to make sure we are working collaboratively.
“For me this isn’t about ideology, partisan politics or presidential legacies, it is simply about building a sustainable healthcare system that empowers every American to make the best decisions for themselves and their families, and supports the neediest in our society. It’s about putting patient interests first and above the special and government interests that have controlled the healthcare system for far too long. Now this process continues.”
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