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A Flicker of Hope Out of Washington?

Saudi Arms Vote Shows Senators Can Do The Right Thing

Demonstrators that include mostly medical students protest a proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act in New York, U.S., January 30, 2017.  © 2017 Reuters

Nearly half the United States Senate on Tuesday voted to ban a sale of US$510 million weapons to Saudi Arabia, because those weapons may be used to perpetrate war crimes against Yemeni civilians. It was a stunning result, just weeks after President Donald Trump visited the country, but it was overshadowed by much else happening in Congress.

Administration officials were in the Senate to testify about Trump’s proposed budget, while Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the committee investigating Russia’s potential interference with the US election. Vice President Mike Pence was also there to discuss health care with republican senators. The House version of the plan, passed last month, would dramatically limit healthcare options for people with pre-existing conditions or disabilities, the elderly, those on low incomes, and women.

I had a full day too. My babysitter was sick. On Monday, my husband and I split the childcare, but on Tuesday, he had too many meetings to miss, so I juggled our 1-year-old, CSPAN, email, and Twitter. We settled down to nurse in front of the TV as the vote was called out. I texted, tweeted, and emailed quotes to journalists, analysis to colleagues, and finally kudos to the people who worked so hard to highlight the plight of Yemeni civilians, as she drifted off to sleep. 

I am fortunate to work for an organization that not only advocates for the rights of others but provides employees with adequate paid time off, health insurance, and flexibility to care for their families. I’m secure in knowing I can look after my children however I need to: by staying home, going to doctor’s appointments, or adjusting my work schedule. Many Americans are not so lucky. Trump and Pence met today with 13 men, Republicans working on the Senate version of the healthcare bill that would eliminate insurance coverage and reduce access to quality health care for millions of people, including women seeking to plan and care for their families.

If their bill passes the Senate, millions and millions of people will lose affordable health care. Their proposal would make looking after your health, and your family, a luxury – not a right.

I’m grateful that 47 senators stood up for Yemeni civilians; it proves that they can overcome political obstacles to do what is right. Let’s hope they do the same for working Americans when they vote on our healthcare bill. 

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