With the Senate in recess and negotiations on the health care bill still underway, activists have been maintaining pressure on Republicans already opposed to the stalled legislation, aiming to keep them in the “no” column and prevent the majority party from obtaining the 50 votes they need.
Going into this week’s holiday recess, activists were already planning to target public events and festivities on July 4 in anticipation of appearances by elected officials.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who opposes the current plan, said she was still a “no” while talking to reporters at a parade in Eastport, Maine, which is known as the biggest Fourth of July event in the state.
“What I’ve been hearing the entire recess is people telling me to be strong, that they have a lot of concerns about the health care bill in the Senate, they want me to keep working on it, but they don’t want me to support it in its current form,” she told reporters.
While Republican leaders had hoped to vote on the bill before the holiday recess, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced last week the Senate would delay the vote after several GOP senators voiced serious concerns about the bill as drafted.
Collins, a center-right Republican, argued the bill would be too harmful to her constituents because of the impact of Medicaid cuts on rural populations and the elderly.
“I’ve found that Mainers are very well informed about the legislation, and they’re deeply concerned about what it’s going to mean for themselves and their neighbors,” she said.
Collins added that she’ll remain against the bill unless it’s “dramatically changed.”
Across the country, Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who’s been staunchly opposed to the bill, returned to his home state of Nevada, where he faces a tough re-election bid next year.
Heller participated Tuesday in a parade in the small town of Ely, Nevada, with a population of about 4,200 people. One man urged Heller to “vote yes on that health bill” as the senator rode by on a horse.
Another Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz, faced a large group of protesters at a parade in McAllen, Texas. Speaking to CNN affiliate KVEO, Cruz said the demonstrators were an illustration of democracy at work.
“One of the great things about freedom in America is even people who disagree can speak out, and there is a small group of people on the left who, right now, are very angry,” he said. “We can engage in cordial and civil debate — that’s how democracy works and…