In a rare break from his silence on the Senate’s Affordable Care Act repeal and replacement efforts, Montana Sen. Steve Daines pledged in an interview with Yellowstone Public Radio that his support for the Senate bill would depend on a single component: Planned Parenthood’s defunding.
Yellowstone Public Radio reporter Edward O’Brien asked Daines: “So if that [Planned Parenthood] funding was restored, you’d vote against the bill?” Daines’ response was clear: “I would.” Nothing about voting based on the bill’s effects on health care access and affordability, nor its impact on rural hospitals or mental health and drug treatment providers.
Daines’ tunnel vision on limiting abortion access is both off-base and hypocritical. For all of Daines’ focus on championing fetuses, he has repeatedly demonstrated that this concern stops at birth. If Daines were really committed to Montana children’s well-being, would he have voted Wednesday to repeal Obamacare with no replacement? Early Friday morning, would he have fallen into line behind McConnell by voting for the “skinny repeal”, which would have caused 16 million to 20 million Americans to lose health care?
Daines’ ‘yes’ vote on the skinny repeal was deeply irresponsible. The bill would have harmed Montana’s most vulnerable: children, low-income people, those with disabilities and mental health issues, LGBTQ people, rural Montanans, veterans and Native communities.
Not only did Daines refuse to do the right thing by voting against the skinny repeal, he based his support on the wrong things: a misplaced commitment to restrict women’s right to health care amplified by partisan cowardice.