Congratulations, Greg Walden!
Oregon's sole Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, the chair of the key committee that oversaw the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare and replace it with Trumpcare, which will raise health care costs and reduce insurance coverage for millions of Americans.
Walden, who was born in The Dalles and lives in Hood River, stood behind Donald Trump today as the President boasted of the many great things to come, like women losing health insurance for post-partum depression, for instance.
After shaking Walden's hand, Trump smiled, motioned to Walden and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and said approvingly, "This is the group." Indeed, Walden's crucial role in advancing the Republican healthcare plan has been widely acknowledged. Walden reportedly met with Trump about the bill yesterday.
That new bill, the American Health Care Act, still needs to clear the Senate, but passage there is likely as the numbers favor Republicans.
"How am I doing, am I doing okay? I'm President. Hey, I'm President! Can you believe it?" Trump said.
Walden said this morning that Trumpcare would "more flexibility for states to innovate" on health insurance. "We're trying to fix and rescue this market," Walden said.
As WW reported in March, more people in Walden's district will lose health insurance with the Affordable Care Act repeal than elsewhere in Oregon. After Walden made his remarks supporting the Republican health care bill on the House floor this morning, a Democratic Congressman stood to point out what it will mean for Oregonians statewide.
"I remind my chairman [Walden] that his vote for the healthcare bill will take away protections from 640,000 people with preexisting conditions in Oregon," U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said.
"You hear all these numbers going state by state, I don't buy into that at all," Walden had said during his remarks.
All of Oregon's Democratic Represenatatives voted against the Obamacare repeal. U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) released a statement after the House vote today. "Today's vote is a disgrace," Bluemenauer said. "There will be real-life, devastating consequences for working families, people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions, women and children, and seniors. Republicans should be ashamed. America will hold them accountable."
Update 3:08 pm: U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is holding out hope that public pressure will persuade Senate Republicans to shoot down the House bill.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), meanwhile, has been tweeting out charts of what the Republican plan will mean for people who will maintain insurance coverage through their employers, to say nothing of the 24 million who will lose it entirely.