The 13-member working group of U.S. senators selected by Senate Republican leadership to craft legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare does not include a single woman, despite the GOP having five women among its Senate ranks, and considering the significant impact this bill would have on women. Meanwhile, people of color are hardly represented as well.
“Thirteen men are deciding the future of American health care tonight,” said CNN’s Erin Burnett on her show Friday. “Why couldn’t they find one woman to represent the concerns of 126 million female adults in the United States of America? What can they realistically bring to the table when the conversation turns to, let’s just say, childbirth, maternity leave, ovarian cancer or breast cancer?”
According to prevailing estimates, more than 24 million Americans are expected to lose their health insurance under the House version of the bill, which passed along party lines on Thursday. That bill also defunds Planned Parenthood and eliminates the requirement for health care plans to cover maternity care, among other care essential to women.
“The GOP is crafting policy on an issue that directly impacts women without including a single woman in the process. It’s wrong,” tweeted Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California on Saturday.
“Women’s health is a big part of this and women are a majority of the population, and their health interests deserve to be contemplated in any reform,” said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “I don’t know what the 13 white men, when you have five Republican women who are excluded from that, that these 13 men are supposed to sit down and put something together.”
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a member of the group, told NBC News he did not see a problem with the group’s composition.
“The Majority Leader has pulled together a group — a working group that represent different approaches and trying to get consensus there,” Cornyn said.
In a statement to CNN, GOP senators said, “We have no interest in playing identity politics — that’s not what this is about, it’s about getting a job done. To reduce this to gender, race or geography misses the more important point of the diverse segments of the conference the group represents on policies.”
These “different approaches” and “diverse segments” are from the 13-member group whose makeup consists of two senators from Texas, Utah and Wyoming, along with one senator each from Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Tennessee.
Nearly 50 percent of that group — the six senators from Utah, Wyoming, Kentucky and South Dakota — come from predominately white, under-populated states and collectively represent just 2.6 percent of the entire U.S. population and less than 1 percent of all Blacks and Latinos living in this country.
“It matters to have women at the table — and it matters when they aren’t,” tweeted U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Friday. The same is true for all affected groups.