Bill Cassidy: The open face of a cursed health-care bill

Bill Cassidy of Louisiana walked down a corridor flanked by 3 members of a Capitol Police, any prepared to sentinel off protesters who competence confront him about his health-care bill.


It was an surprising day for a little-known Republican senator, spent shuttling from speak to interview, afterwards to a Senate Finance Committee, where he would representation his proceed to dismantling Obamacare to his colleagues, and finally to a CNN theatre where he subjected himself to a nationally televised, one-hour discuss notwithstanding his bill’s fall hours earlier.

Was he still anticipating to move a magnitude behind from roughly certain defeat?

Hard to say.

The Cassidy-Graham offer is unpopular with voters. It is opposite by a medical investiture to that Cassidy, a physician-turned-politician, once belonged. Experts estimated that it would flog tens of millions off their health-care plans. Even some members of Cassidy’s possess celebration are skeptical.

At what indicate does a impractical bid turn masochistic? And what would make Cassidy, or anyone for that matter, wish to sojourn a open face?

One idea emerged in an speak with The Washington Post on Monday: Cassidy is determined. Relentlessly, strangely determined.

“Keep plugging, keep plugging and never quit,” he said. “Two years ago, people suspicion we was Don Quixote. A month ago, people suspicion things were dead. Two weeks ago, people smiled. And now folks say, ‘Wow, they might still lift it off.’ If we keep your conduct down and keep plugging, good things happen, and that’s my goal.”

In a committee, Cassidy had hoped to revitalise a check that had hovered nearby fall for 4 days. He had revised a content to seductiveness to holdout senators. He would try to win capitulation from a heavyweights on a panel, where he is a many youth member. He didn’t have many to work with.

“I was sent here to work,” he pronounced during one point. “If this [the bill] is a usually means by that we can do so, we shall.”

At another moment: “For 3 years, we went around to Democratic colleagues and met with we and asked, ‘Can we greatfully work together?’ For 3 years, we was fundamentally told, ‘Nice try.’ ”

As a conference began, a check was holding onto a slim possibility of success. Cassidy would find out before a cabinet adjourned, 5 hours later, that this possibility was all though gone.

The first-term senator cuts an surprising figure in a top chamber. He stands out during over 6 feet tall, with clever facilities and a startle of gray hair. Described as accessible though though tighten friends, he ranges around a Capitol with his headphones in, avoiding tiny talk. Before a health-care debate, he was not famous for a signature emanate — nor for a job label among his colleagues.

That all altered in May after Cassidy’s confront with Jimmy Kimmel.

Cassidy had not even been partial of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) official operative group on health caring early this year, notwithstanding his settled seductiveness in a emanate and his medical degree. He partnered with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on an Affordable Care Act deputy bill, though a legislation had worried small interest.

He finally managed to join a discuss after entrance adult with a customary for judging Republican legislation to reinstate a ACA. He would call it a “Jimmy Kimmel test” — an tusk of a late-night comic’s defence to Congress to strengthen a ACA, that began after his baby son was innate with a heart defect. Cassidy declared, after Kimmel’s advocacy done headlines, that he would not support a check that unsuccessful to pledge that patients like a Kimmel baby would accept health coverage regardless of income.

Cassidy primarily won regard from magnanimous advocates. But by mid-September, he had opted to turn a lead unite of a new offer charity thespian cuts to Medicaid and withdrawal many coverage decisions to states.

Cassidy claimed that his position had not altered given May.

“My patients had terrible diseases and mixed ongoing conditions, and my life’s work was how to caring for these associate Americans,” he pronounced in a video posted on Twitter over a weekend, referring to his work with Louisiana’s uninsured patients. “[Cassidy-Graham] accomplishes this by other means.”

Kimmel — and many others — resolved otherwise.

“This guy, Bill Cassidy, usually lied right to my face,” Kimmel pronounced on his program, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

Cassidy claimed after Kimmel’s riff that a comedian didn’t know his proposal. But a legislation is arguably some-more extreme than a bills Republicans deliberate this summer. It goes serve in a cuts to sovereign health-care spending, aims those cuts some-more directly during states that stretched Medicaid underneath a ACA and allows states to use waivers to opt out of a law’s consumer protections.

Mistaking feud for disagreement is standard for a awkward, somewhat nerdish Cassidy, 59, who invokes his credentials in medicine during usually about each opportunity,

A liver dilettante by training, Cassidy helped emanate a giveaway sanatorium for Baton Rouge’s operative bad and incited an deserted Kmart into a temporary medical trickery after Hurricane Katrina.

Some in Louisiana Republican politics have speculated that it would be Cassidy’s wife, Laura, a late breast-cancer surgeon, who eventually done a run for office. The dual met during their medical residencies in a 1980s. He calls her his closest adviser.

“On health care, she has really many lived what I’ve lived,” Cassidy said.

“She was in a publicly run complement and beheld a resources always lagged behind those of a private hospital. . . . She understands a needs for coverage as do I, carrying patients who for whatever reason were uninsured and their breast cancer was delayed, both diagnosis and treatment, infrequently with terrible results. So she shares my passion.”

When Cassidy sat down to attest during Monday’s 2 p.m. hearing, a math for his check was already difficult. With 52 seats and a tiebreaking opinion of Vice President Pence, Republicans could remove usually dual GOP votes to pass many legislation. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had already come out opposite a bill. That left Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), whom Cassidy had attempted to captivate with additional supports for their states in a new chronicle of a check expelled Monday.

Dressed in a dim suit, sky-blue shirt and navy-blue-and-pink striped tie, Cassidy entered a conference room as protesters in a corridor audibly chanted, “No cuts to Medicaid!”

The subsequent 5 hours upheld slowly, as Cassidy entered a weeds of health-care process to urge his bill, proviso by clause. At one point, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) referred to him as “Dr. Kennedy,” mistaking Cassidy for Louisiana’s youth senator.

After one quite exhilarated exchange, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) called for a panel’s Democrats to palliate adult on Cassidy.

“He’s a doctor, and he understands this substantially improved than anybody in this room,” Hatch said. “Let’s uncover some honour for Senator Cassidy. This is not easy for him.”

Hours later, news pennyless that Collins was a organisation no on a bill. Cassidy continued to petition Democrats to support a legislation, bringing out color-coded maps to make his points.

Hatch pronounced he would postpone a conference after another turn of questions.

“Let’s face it,” he said. “We’re not removing anywhere.”

Paige Winfield Cunningham, Sean Sullivan and Natalie Jennings contributed to this report.


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