That Washington

Washington State's Congressional GOP Respond to Their Votes on Health Care

A rundown of our GOP leadership and their responses to the public.

By Hayat Norimine May 5, 2017

Dave reichert media jbusma

Dave Reichert during an SOTU interview in 2016. 

The House on Thursday afternoon approved the GOP health care bill in a narrow 217-213 vote, with all Democrats and 20 Republicans opposed. Washington state's four Republicans were divided on the legislation—two who supported it, one who didn't, and one who was undecided until hours before the vote (and voted no). 

1. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane (Eastern Washington), the only Washington representative who voted "yes" on the GOP health care bill, published an op-ed with the Washington Post late Thursday night with the headline, "My son has a preexisting condition. He’s one of the reasons I voted for the AHCA." The piece explained that when her son was born, and they discovered he had Down syndrome, one of the first questions she had was whether he'd have health care. No one should have to wonder that, she wrote. 

McMorris Rodgers' message focusing on preexisting conditions was confusing when that problem is exactly what the ACA wanted to address—when, in fact, the GOP legislation is weak when it comes to protections for preexisting conditions, and needed an $8 billion amendment just to appease those concerns. 

Another major flaw in that story? Cole Rodgers, her first son, was born in 2007 before former U.S. president Barack Obama took office, and years before the health care bill he championed took effect. If you're going to criticize Obamacare—citing your son as a primary loser in that bill—please explain why he lost when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law.

2. Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside (Central Washington) was the other Washington Republican who said he supported the bill. His spokesperson, Will Boyington, said he abstained from the vote that day due to a family emergency. (His wife has been fighting cancer.)

3. In contrast, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas (Southwest Washington) was one of 20 Republicans who voted no, and she opposed the legislation the first time around. She also has a daughter with complex medical needs, and in late 2016 she said she personally was on Obamacare. (Though she does support repealing it.) She had requested exempting children from the bill’s per capita block grant, which limits Medicaid by giving states a certain amount of money to distribute for health care. 

"Protecting vulnerable children is a core purpose of the Medicaid program, and when the program fails to do so, it fails entirely," she wrote in a statement. "I could not vote to let those kids fall through the cracks."

4. When Dave Reichert of Issaquah finally announced he would vote no Thursday morning, it had been clear that the House would pass the legislation even without his support. He also has yet to disclose whether he supported the GOP health care bill in March when it went down in flames, and not bringing the legislation to a House vote allowed Republicans like Reichert not to disclose their stance to the public who voted for them. 

Maybe he really was "undecided" until the final inning like he said—but by staying silent until the last minute, it's hard not to perceive Reichert's vote as an admission it wasn't the policy he cared about, but the politics. 

Updated May 5, 2017, at 12:40pm. This post includes more information about the family emergency and Newhouse's Facebook response. 

Updated May 9, 2017, at 3:24pm. This post clarifies Reichert didn't "openly admit" his vote was about the politics. 

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