Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that the Senate would no longer be voting on the Better Care Reconciliation Act—that chamber’s Affordable Care Act repeal bill—on Thursday. Instead, Senators will reconvene to vote on the Trumpcare bill after the July 4 recess. Although the announcement was seen as a small victory for opponents of the legislation, activists haven’t let up on their fight for quality, affordable healthcare for all. The same day of McConnell’s announcement was the launch of The People’s Filibuster—a coordinated series of actions protesting attempts by lawmakers to roll back the gains of the Affordable Care Act.
On Tuesday, three dozen Planned Parenthood volunteers stood outside of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. dressed as handmaids from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale—a symbolic act of protest that also serves as an eery foreshadowing of what can come from attempts to control women’s bodies. The BCRA would impact the availability of abortion coverage, ban federal funding for Planned Parenthood, designate surviving violence or giving birth as unprotected “pre-existing conditions” and weaken the ACA’s essential benefits package—leaving standards for maternity care and cancer screening coverage in the hands of lawmakers and insurers. In response, feminist organizations and movement leaders have called on supporters to take action and mobilize.
“[The Handmaid’s Tale] narrative is all too real,” a student from New York told CNN. “We want our senators and administrators to know just how serious we take their legislation and our right to health care. The costumes make a visual statement and demonstrate how seriously we take this.”
Hands Around the Capitol, a protest on Wednesday night, zeroed in on the larger losses to come from Trumpcare. A human chain formed around the U.S. Capitol in protest, with over 1,000 people RSVPed to the event and thousands more signaling their interest in joining the fight. Senator Kamala Harris encouraged her constituents to join her and others at the protest in a tweet Tuesday morning, and according to The Hill, lawmakers including representatives John Lewis (D-GA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and Joyce Beatty (D-OH) attended in black and accessorized with mourning veils as part of a funeral for Medicaid on the Capitol steps. Trumpcare would leave 22 million Americans without insurance by 2026 and cut Medicaid funding by nearly $1,000,000,000. In addition, it would phase out the ACA’s Medicaid expansion program, which has granted coverage to millions across the country in participating states.
To those afraid of losing their health care:
We are with you.
We will not abandon you.
We will keep up the fight. pic.twitter.com/azjeJWPwaW
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 28, 2017
The People’s Filibuster began on Tuesday with a live-stream of a rally held by Senate Democrats. The week-long series of events— organized by groups including MoveOn.org, Planned Parenthood and the Center for American Progress—runs parallel to similar events around the country. In New York, a vigil took place on Wednesday in solidarity with Hands Around the Capitol. In Texas, a local Hands Around the Capital event will be taking place Thursday at the Capitol building in Austin, which protesters hope will show their representatives that Texans from all walks of life oppose Trumpcare. Indivisible Austin, one of the hosts of Thursday’s Hands Around the Capitol, is also supporting a slew of other events throughout the week in opposition to Trumpcare ending with stories from local immigrants on Saturday and an impeachment march on Sunday.