Metro-East News

Will health care vote hurt Republicans in 2018?

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro
U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro

When the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, it did so in a 219 to 212 vote. Every Republican voted no.

Later that year, in the Tea Party wave, Democrats lost control of the House to Republicans.

Seven years later, Republicans in the U.S. House, as part of their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, voted 217-213 to pass the American Health Care Act, this time without any Democratic support.

Among those to vote yes on the legislation, which now goes to the U.S. Senate, were the three congressmen who represent the metro-east — U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville; U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville; and U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro.

Whether Democrats could turn the vote and the energy against the GOP health care reform into enough momentum for the 2018 midterms is another question.

Currently, Republicans have a 238 to 193 advantage over Democrats in the U.S. House. There are four vacancies.

In March, a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University for 56 percent of Americans were against the GOP health care plan, and only 17 percent in favor.

John Jackson, a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, said there is a potential the AHCA could lead to a Democratic wave.

“I think that will be a tactic the Democrats will use, particularly as they try to keep the bill from passing the Senate — threatening any Republican senators who may be on the marginal bubble in 2018,” Jackson said.

I’m guessing Democrats got a shot at eight or 10 (seats). After that, it seems really hard.

John Jackson, a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

Democrats won’t be able to show clear a cause and effect from the GOP health care reform bill, Jackson said.

“The policy implications will take a few years to play out,” Jackson said.

Whether the energy people opposed to President Donald Trump’s agenda can match that of the Tea Party movement in 2010 is another issue. The movement was part of a large organization and had a lot of money behind it.

“The Tea Party movement was funded by large donors ... the Koch Brothers,” Jackson said. “Democrats tend not to have the money or organization to match that.”

Jackson said he believes the AHCA has a decent chance of passing in the Senate, as it only needs 51 votes for approval in the chamber with 52 Republicans.

“This is the thing they’ve been wanting more than anything else, and they got it (Thursday),” Jackson said.

Jackson added that the way congressional districts are drawn nationally is an advantage to Republicans, as they were able to control more state governorships and legislatures after the 2010 elections, prior to the 2011 redistricting.

He said health care would be a talking point for Democrats and could give their base a lot of motivation, but he’s not sure it will be enough to take control of the House.

“I’m guessing Democrats got a shot at eight or 10 (seats),” Jackson said. “After that, it seems really hard.”

We have one message for Illinois Rep. Mike Bost ...: See you at the ballot box. This cruel and cynical vote to take away health care from 41,100 in your district is a breathtaking betrayal. MoveOn members will do all they can to ensure you lose in 2018.

MoveOn Executive Director Anna Galland

Jackson doubted Davis and Shimkus, who are in heavily Republican districts, would be vulnerable.

He did say it would take the right candidate for Bost to be vulnerable.

The Illinois 12th had previously been rated as an evenly split district by the Cook Political Report. The district has now shifted to be more Republican, with the Cook Poltical Report rating it at R plus 5, as Southern Illinois is trending more Republican in general.

“Who is the right candidate?” Jackson said. “The (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) and the (Democratic National Committee) have to get the idea this is a doable district. Until they do that, and put some resources in it, it’s probably not a winning district. If they don’t get in, then it’s almost impossible to pull it off. If Republicans sense Mike Bost is vulnerable, they’ll pour millions into here.”

Within several hours of Thursday’s vote, groups started sending news releases criticizing Republicans for passing the legislation.

MoveOn Illinois began sending out news releases, including criticism of Bost, and fellow U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Hinsdale.

“We have one message for Illinois Rep. Mike Bost ...: See you at the ballot box,” MoveOn Executive Director Anna Galland said in a released statement. “This cruel and cynical vote to take away health care from 41,100 in your district is a breathtaking betrayal. MoveOn members will do all they can to ensure you lose in 2018.”

The DCCC also sent out a release going after Bost.

“Make no mistake about it: Rep. Bost must face the music, look his constituents in the eye, and answer for the mess they created,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in a released statement. “There is no question that this bill will cause incredible pain for hardworking Americans, particularly those fighting to make ends meet, and this vote will haunt Bost through Election Day.”

Those same people would be (saying) ‘Mike Bost, Obamacare failed. Why didn’t you do anything?

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro

Bost on Thursday wasn’t frightened by prospects the Republicans could lose control of the House over the health care vote.

“Those same people would be (saying) ‘Mike Bost, Obamacare failed. Why didn’t you do anything?’” Bost said.

Bost said people shouldn’t be surprised by his vote, as he advocated for a repeal and replacement of the ACA.

“I hope the American people are wiser than that,” Bost said. “We made the promise to do this.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter

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