Democrats Tie Senate Candidates to House GOP Health Care Plan

Democrats Tie Senate Candidates to House GOP Health Care Plan.

by Simone Pathé · March 9, 2017

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller is a top target for Democrats in 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Simone Pathé
@Simone Pathé
Posted Mar 9, 2017 1:39 PM
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Democrats plan to hold Senate Republicans — and House Republicans who may run for the Senate — accountable for the health care plan proposed by House GOP leadership this week.

“The new health care dynamic: GOP Senate candidates own this plan” is the subject line of a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee memo released to interested parties Thursday and obtained first by Roll Call.

“Regardless of how far this plan makes it through Congress, every Republican Senate candidate will have to answer for a dangerous proposal that puts millions of Americans at risk,” the committee memo read.

The DSCC, which is largely operating an incumbent-protection program this election cycle, has been less vocal in its messaging than its GOP counterpart so far this year. Democrats are defending 10 seats in states that President Donald Trump won, with only two main offensive opportunities in Nevada and Arizona.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has been attacking vulnerable Democratic incumbents for months now, blasting out releases comparing them to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But Thursday’s memo, along with a DSCC statement earlier this week condemning the GOP health care plan, suggests the committee will be making the Republicans’ plan a central part of their messaging going forward.

Notably, the memo doesn’t mention President Donald Trump or his support for the bill. (Groups tied to House GOP leadership have invoked the president’s backing to urge conservative members to vote for the bill.) Instead, the DSCC is keeping the message squarely on economic issues, arguing that the GOP plan privileges the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

The memo specifies three groups of people whose fates under the GOP plan Democrats are focusing on: older Americans, families struggling with opioid abuse and women. It also calls out Republicans for “stack[ing] the deck for the rich and powerful” by offering a tax break for insurance company CEOs.

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller is the only Republican senator up for re-election in a state that Hillary Clinton won last fall, and a top target for Democrats next year. The DSCC memo zeroed in on Heller for not signing onto a letter from four other GOP senators from states that expanded Medicaid, which raised concerns about a draft version of the legislation. One of the signatories, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

The DSCC also called out potential GOP Senate candidates like Indiana Rep. Luke Messer, as well as lawmakers who currently serve on House committees that have been involved with the draft legislation: Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, Ohio Rep. Pat Tiberi and Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski.

“During the 2018 cycle, there will be no rock that Republican Senate candidates can hide under to escape the GOP’s dangerous attack on American families,” the DSCC said.

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