On the House floor one year ago, Democrats were jubilant in defeat.
Republicans had just passed a bill to repeal major portions of Obamacare without any Democratic support, and the minority party was convinced the vote would send them into the majority by January 2019.
"Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, hey, goodbye,” Democrats sang, repeating a juvenile political spectacle first used by Republicans in 1993 when Democrats passed a Bill Clinton-sponsored tax bill.
Despite the theatrics, the Republicans' political prognostications in 1993 were right. They gained 54 seats and control of Congress.
Now, Democrats are trying to use healthcare to engineer a similar wave, and Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo's Miami-to-Key-West district is ground zero for their efforts. Curbelo won reelection in 2016 by 12 percentage points despite representing a Democratic-leaning district that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by 16 percentage points, and his seat is a top priority for Democrats as they seek to win 24 seats to gain control of the House after the November elections.
On the one year anniversary of the House vote to pass the American Health Care Act, known as the AHCA, Democrats are spending millions to remind voters in districts like Curbelo's that their representative voted to essentially repeal Obamacare, the sweeping healthcare law passed solely by Democrats in 2009. Democrats are so confident that Curbelo's healthcare record will be his political undoing that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi traveled to South Miami-Dade on Thursday to appear with his Democratic opponent and trash his record.
"Today we’re talking about the one-year anniversary of a very destructive bill that the congressman from this area, Mr. Curbelo, voted for to the detriment of people in this district,” Pelosi said, adding that Curbelo's support for the GOP tax bill that became law late last year further eroded affordable healthcare by removing penalties for the individual mandate. “What they couldn’t achieve in the president’s [healthcare] bill, they tried to do some of in the tax bill. So elections have consequences. Legislation affects peoples’ lives. We’re just trying to show the connection."
Curbelo welcomes the attention on healthcare, and says his position on Obamacare hasn't changed since he first ran for Congress in 2013.
"We need to keep the good in the law. That means protections for those with preexisting conditions, doesn’t discriminate against women, and allow young people to stay on their parent's plans until they are established and can purchase their own health insurance," Curbelo said. "And we need to replace the bad with something that works better. A year later I still get some complaints in my office about" Obamacare.
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