The irony — Healthcare could mean Democrats take the House

July 29, 2017

The Hill: The irony — Healthcare could mean Democrats take the House

by Stephanie Schriock

The chickens have come home to roost. As the White House continues its spiral into disarray and the dust settles over the GOP's failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republicans in the House of Representatives are desperately trying to close their grip on an increasingly slippery argument for why they should be allowed to keep their seats after 2018.

In a May press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan predicted that House Republicans seeking reelection will be judged on one question in 2018: Did we make people’s lives better? He’s right about that.

What voters perceive Republicans in Congress as having done for them is the standard by which they are going to be judged in 2018. Based on everything we¹ve seen so far — they're in real trouble.

Even before the widespread engagement that started with the Women’s March in January, Democrats were already heading into the 2018 midterm elections with momentum on their side. 

Our organization, EMILYs List is seeing an unprecedented surge in the number of women interested in running for office, with over 16,000 women contacting us since Election Day and signing up to run for office themselves at the federal, state and local levels — many of them motivated by the healthcare debate. (To put this number in context, that’s more women than we have trained in our entire 32-year history).

Across the board, women running for office in 2018 are bringing a diverse range of perspectives on key issues like healthcare and economic security and experiences that are truly representative of the people they’ll serve. Rising stars like Danica Roem, who is running to be the first transgender woman ever elected to the Virginia General Assembly, and Stacey Abrams, who is running to be our country’s first African American woman governor, are driving real solutions for American families. 

In previous midterm elections, parties in power have lost an average of 28 House seats.

In 2018, Democrats only need to flip 24 to take back the House and 23 of the competitive districts at play this cycle are districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016. 

So when it comes to House recruitment, I am encouraged by the great strength of EMILYs List candidates like Iowa legislator Abby Finkenauer, who is poised, at 28, to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress when she takes back Iowa’s 1st Congressional District.  Newcomers like Chrissy Houlahan, a business leader and veteran, who is running for Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, and pediatrician Mai Khanh Tran who is running for California’s 39th Congressional District, are the Democrats who will hold the GOP accountable and part of the 24 seats that will decide the majority for 2019.   

This is significant and the implications for our country moving toward the 2018 election cycle are profound. As decades of research on women voters and our experience recruiting, training and raising money for women to run for office have shown, when women are in office, we get better policies for women and their families. When our government looks more like the people it is working to serve, our communities, our economy and our country thrive.

And now, many polls show that healthcare is top of mind for large numbers of Americans, especially women. This is not a surprise since our economic security is directly linked to our healthcare.

“Can we afford it if my mom is ill?” “What will we do if I am injured and can’t work?” “Will we lose our home if someone in our family gets sick?” These are real questions that women and families are asking and they’re questions Republicans in Congress have failed to answer. 

All of the GOP’s proposals threaten access to reproductive health services and would deprive millions of Americans of health insurance. The bill that passed the House allows states to deny pre-existing conditions defined as everything from pregnancy to sexual assault. 

This past week, Senate Republicans attempted to pass a dangerous “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act in the dark of night. Thankfully, three Republican senators found the courage to join their Democratic colleagues — including every single EMILY's List woman — to protect access to healthcare.

Women are fired up and we are making our voices heard. The majority of calls to Congress during the healthcare debate have been made by women. Women have been demanding answers from their Republican representatives about why they are voting to defund Planned Parenthood or roll back Medicaid.

As I noted, more women than ever before are standing up to put their names on the ballot. Women voters have been reminding their elected leaders of a simple truth that Republicans in Washington and in states across the country have forgotten: You work for us. More women than men are registered to vote and women are more likely than men to vote on Election Day.

Republicans in Congress should take note: Women — your biggest employer — are watching each vote you take that hurts women and families, each town hall meeting you’re absent from and each phone call you ignore —now we’re running against you.

Between strong, energized women candidates and outraged women voters, the Democratic majority is in sight for 2018. The fallout from Republicans in the Senate trying to pass their cruel healthcare bill this past week — and continued failed leadership on the part of the GOP — might just be the catalyst to seal the deal.