Before voting to rip health care away from millions of Americans — the sort of thing that would kill people, including your grandparents and children — two South Florida congressmen treated the decision with the relative seriousness of choosing their dates for senior prom.
As House Republicans rushed a vote on an amended Affordable Care Act repeal bill that the public has yet to read and the Congressional Budget Office has not yet reviewed, Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart remained two of the last congressional Republicans who had not yet revealed how they planned to vote. They each played coy with a vote that affects millions of lives — before each electing to vote for the measure around 2:20 p.m. today.
Both men represent districts that rely heavily on Obamacare subsidies: A study released earlier this year showed that Miami, as a whole, contains more Affordable Care Act patients than any other city in the nation. And for that reason, virtually all of Miami's congresspeople have remained ambivalent about repealing the plan since Trump administration spokesman Sean Spicer first bragged about how little paper the American Health Care Act (ACHA or "Trumpcare") used earlier this year.
Veteran congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — who announced last week that she's retiring, thus untethering her from the current stream of human-killing evil spewing from the House GOP — said she was opposed to the repeal the first time and announced this week that she's still opposed. She voted against the measure today.
In the leadup to the vote, Curbelo and Diaz-Balart were not so forthcoming. Curbelo did stand against the measure in February. But as protests raged outside his district office (organizers today staged a "death-in" by lying outside his front door and reminding him that Trumpcare will kill people), Curbelo refused to announce whether he'd jump onboard the new version of the bill. Yesterday, Curbelo said the AHCA "in its current form fails to sufficiently protect Americans with preexisting conditions," strongly hinting he would vote no. But something apparently changed the congressman's mind in the past 24 hours.
Diaz-Balart, meanwhile, acted as if his vote was roughly as important as that of a judge on The Voice.
"At this stage I want to keep you guys guessing," he told congressional reporters this morning in a statement so tone-deaf he could make a killing as a Ludwig van Beethoven impersonator.
As of 1:04 p.m., Diaz-Balart still allegedly hadn't made up his mind — with roughly an hour to go before the vote was scheduled.
"At this stage I want to keep you guys guessing," Florida Rep. Mario Diaz Balart said on his vote.— Lindsey McPherson (@lindsemcpherson) May 4, 2017
Of course, this is Mario Diaz-Balart we're talking about, which means he was less likely ruminating on the morality of tearing away health coverage from millions of defenseless Americans and more likely calling his congressional pals to see what sort of deal he could possibly cut that would get him the most bang for his voting buck. In March, Diaz-Balart was caught all but openly shopping his initial AHCA vote in exchange for assurances from the Trump administration that the president would crack down on the Castro regime in Cuba and reverse President Obama's diplomatic concessions to the Caribbean country. Diaz-Balart denied the charge, but both the New York Times and Miami Herald reported that his office was, in fact, angling for some sort of deal.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
With mere minutes to go before the House called a vote on a health-care bill that has not been publicly available for more than 24 hours, celebrities and political activists across the nation were urging people to call the offices of both Curbelo and Diaz-Balart — though, it seems, it's entirely possible both congressmen simply didn't want to overplay their hands before the vote came down.
It's unlikely that the measure will pass through the Senate, where the GOP will need to muster 60 votes to fully repeal Obamacare. But Curbelo sits in a district that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Diaz-Balart's district only went Trump by roughly five points. Those voters are unlikely to forget the lawmakers' choices today.
This post has been updated to reflect both congressmen's votes.