Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Nov. 3, 2015.
Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP

Republicans put their careers on the line for the wrong bill

In upstate New York this morning, Buffalo News readers learned quite a bit about the perspective of a local Republican congressman who, for some reason, thought it’d be a good idea to vote for his party’s regressive health care plan. The headline read, “Chris Collins admits he didn’t read health care bill.”
Rep. Chris Collins told CNN that he didn’t read the entire Republican health care bill that the House passed Thursday.

And then he told The Buffalo News that he was unaware of a key provision in the bill that decimates a health plan that serves 635,000 New Yorkers.
The Rachel Maddow Show, 5/4/17, 9:27 PM ET

The seven key consequences of the new GOP health care bill

Rachel Maddow reviews what it would mean if the new House Republican health care bill were to become law.
Rachel Maddow reviews what it would mean if the new House Republican health care bill were to become law.
The New York Republican, one of Donald Trump’s most consistent allies in Congress, said his staff read the legislation, the text of which was made available less than a day before the vote.

The article added, “Told by a Buffalo News reporter that the state’s largest loss of federal funds under the bill would be $3 billion annually that goes to the state’s Essential Health Plan, Collins said: ‘Explain that to me.’” Asked specifically if he was aware his party’s American Health Care Act cuts funding to his home state’s Essential Plan, the two-term congressman said he was not.

Sometimes, you can anticipate the basis for an attack ad before the campaign even begins. (Collins’ office later said the New York lawmaker was “intimately involved in the creation of this legislation from its inception.” Given the effects of the bill, that may not be a boast worth making.)

Democrats believe yesterday’s vote – on an unpopular bill, filled with unpopular ideas, which will take health benefits from tens of millions of Americans – will boost the party’s chances of taking back the House in next year’s midterms, and Chris Collins will certainly be among those on the DCCC’s target list.

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver wrote a piece yesterday suggesting Republicans have reason to worry about the majority they’ve held for the last six years. Indeed, as Rachel noted on last night’s show, 24 GOP House members voted for the Republican bill yesterday from districts in which Trump received less than 50% of the vote.

As it turns out, after California’s upcoming special election, Democrats will need 24 seats to reclaim the majority in the House. The target list writes itself.

The funny thing about the political dynamic is how difficult it will be for Republicans to defend themselves. The public didn’t want this bill, and there’s ample evidence that GOP policymakers themselves weren’t pleased with it. No one seems able to offer a credible defense for the legislation on the merits, and by all appearances, the Senate has no intention of even bringing the House bill to the floor.

House Republicans knew the American mainstream hated the bill; they knew how many Americans would suffer if it became law; and they knew the odds in the Senate. They passed it anyway, in part out of blind party loyalty, and in part to avoid intra-party blame for killing one of the GOP’s top priorities. All House Republicans are left with is a depraved piece of legislation and a bunch of demonstrably ridiculous talking points with no basis in fact.

Come November 2018, will these 217 House members think their vote was worth it?