Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Shelley Moore Capito have a few things in common. They are all senators. They are all Republicans. They are all women. And they all near-immediately opposed Mitch McConnell’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act with a delayed replacement.
After the GOP Senate health care bill was effectively killed from within on Monday night ― Sens. Jerry Moran and Mike Lee from the conservative wing of the Republican Party dealt the bill its final blow ― McConnell, the Senate majority leader, announced he would move forward with legislation that would effectively repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it. The repeal of key parts of the ACA would be delayed until two years after the vote, which McConnell told reporters he wanted to hold in the “very near future.” (The same legislation was vetoed by former President Barack Obama in 2015.)
By Tuesday afternoon, three Republican senators ― Collins, Capito and Murkowski ― became the first to announce that they would oppose a motion to proceed on a repeal of the ACA without a replacement.
Capito released a statement Tuesday morning emphasizing that she “did not come to Washington to hurt people,” pointing to 173,000 people in her state of West Virginia who gained health coverage due to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
“My position on this issue is driven by its impact on West Virginians,” she continued. “With that in mind, I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians.”
Soon after, Collins, who had publicly opposed the GOP Senate health care bill, and voted against the same repeal legislation in 2015, tweeted that she too would vote no on the motion to proceed.
“I do not think that it’s constructive to repeal a law that is so interwoven within our health care system without having a replacement plan in place,” the Maine senator said, recommending that the Senate Health Committee hold hearings to look at ways to fix the ACA.
Following Collins, Murkowski, a senator from Alaska, announced that she would not vote to proceed to repeal the ACA, encouraging the Senate to “take a step back and engage in a bipartisan process to address the failures of the ACA and stabilize the individual markets.”
As many pointed out on Twitter, these three senators are all women.
This is notable for two reasons: First, because research has shown that GOP women in Congress are actually the most likely to work across the aisle ― especially when it comes to legislation that impacts health, education and social welfare.
Second, although the initial Senate working group on health care was made up of 13 men and no women ― after major criticism, Capito was invited to join a meeting ― three women ultimately decided the fate of the GOP’s push to overturn the ACA.
Sometimes, irony is sweet.