Our health care system was broken. 48 million people in this country had no health insurance. Women couldn't get access to cancer screenings. People with diabetes were denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. People with cancer hit the caps on their health insurance spending. And health spending in this country was growing far too fast.
So we worked hard, we compromised, and we came up with a solution. A solution that will substantially improve the lives of millions of Americans – because that's the way a democracy works.
It's time to end the debate about whether the Affordable Care Act should exist and whether it should be funded.
Congress voted for this law. President Obama signed this law. The Supreme Court upheld this law. The President ran for reelection on this law. His opponent said he would repeal it – and his opponent lost by five million votes.
Right now, Republicans are taking the government and the economy hostage, threatening serious damage to both unless the President agrees to gut the Affordable Care Act. For days, they even tried to change the law so that employers can deny women access to birth control coverage.
I am the mother of a daughter and the grandmother of granddaughters. I will never vote to let a group of backward-looking ideologues cut women's access to birth control. We have lived in that world, and we are not going back. Not ever.
I see things like this and I wonder what alternate reality some of my colleagues are living in.
So let me be very clear about what is happening in the real world: The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. Millions of people are counting on it – people who need health care coverage, people who need insurance policies that don't disappear just when they are sickest.
The law is here to stay, and it will stay.
Now the government is shut down. We haven't fixed the sequester because of all the obstruction. We haven't finished a budget because of all the obstruction. We haven't even passed a single appropriations bill because of all the obstruction.
The least we can do – the bare minimum we can do – would be to pass a "continuing resolution" to open the doors back up and turn the lights back on. We could ensure that over a million federal workers aren't staying home for no reason. We could end the government shutdown.
But the Republicans have refused to do even that. They have shuttered the government unless the President agreed to de-fund the Affordable Care Act.
The threats may continue, but they are not working and they never will. In a democracy, hostage tactics are the last resort for those who can't win their fights through elections, can't win their fights in Congress, can't win their fights for the Presidency, and can't win their fights in Courts.
For this right-wing minority, hostage-taking is all they have left – a last gasp of those who cannot cope with the realities of our democracy.
The time has come for those legislators who cannot cope with the reality of our democracy to get out of the way – so that those of us in BOTH parties can get back to working on solving the real problems faced by the American people.
We have real work to do.