The House vote to repeal Obamacare is the biggest policy win yet for Donald Trump’s young presidency — and also the biggest challenge for the movement working to defeat him.
Anti-Trump activists had cheered when they helped blunt House Republicans’ initial effort to pass a bill. Now opposition groups face an exhausting juggling act, keeping their members engaged during a long and uncertain health care push in the Senate while also not losing sight of the vulnerable House Republicans who voted to shred Obamacare.
Liberal leaders want to aim as much firepower as they can at House Republicans who backed the bill, particularly the 14 whose districts Hillary Clinton won in November. They’re betting that more moderate or endangered incumbents such as Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) will be watching and taking notes.
“The surest way to get senators to back away from plans to repeal health care is for them to see the consequences House members paid with constituents for doing it,” veteran Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson said in an interview.
The Affordable Care Act “is still the law of the land,” Padilla noted in an interview, and activist groups can claim victory after forcing the GOP off course for months.
“We thought, ‘Oh, God, we’re going to lose ACA on Day One,’” Padilla added. “It shows how strong the citizens’ movement has been that we’re in May and they’re still squeaking it by.”
The strength of anti-Trump groups will be challenged anew by the Senate’s treatment of Obamacare.