Upcoming Senate health-care vote a test of conscience, courage

GOP senators should take time away from politics to think back to the reasons they entered public service. They need to understand that the looming vote to repeal and replace Obamacare is a test of their conscience and of courage.

Forget for a minute about partisan labels and listen to members of the U.S. Senate talk about why they work in politics.

Rob Portman talks about a 16-year-old constituent who died of a drug overdose — and about honoring his life by fighting drug use. Susan Collins speaks eloquently about helping people with Alzheimer’s. Lisa Murkowski talks about protecting children from fetal-alcohol disorders, and Lamar Alexander speaks about premature babies.

There are many more stories like these, and they’re not only for show. They reflect deeply held beliefs that senators have about themselves.

Republican or Democrat, they see themselves as public servants — their preferred term for politicians — trying to make life better for their fellow Americans. Sure, when they’re being honest, they admit that they enjoy the power and perks. But even with all the cynicism Washington engenders, senators still take pride in the high ideals of politics.

Sometime after the Fourth of July, these senators will face a career-defining choice.

It will not be an easy one for many of them. Republicans have spent years promising to repeal Obamacare. Now the Senate is nearing a vote on whether to do so. Opposing the bill will mark any Republican as a traitor to the party. And the skilled and powerful Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, doesn’t brook dissent kindly.

So what are Portman, Collins, Murkowski, Alexander and other Republican senators going to do?

I hope that each one takes some time away from the daily swirl of Capitol Hill to think back to the reasons they entered politics. I hope they understand that this vote is a test of conscience and of courage.

The immediate incentives all point toward voting for the…

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