No women on the Senate GOP health care working group: So what?

CNN and other liberal media outlets are pointing out that the group of Republican Senators working together on the matter of Obamacare replacement contains no females. CNN’s Erin Burnett slammed Republicans for this fact.

Here are the members of the group:

Mitch McConnell
John Cornyn
John Thune
John Barrasso
Lamar Alexander
Mike Enzi
Orrin Hatch
Ted Cruz
Mike Lee
Tom Cotton
Cory Gardner
Rob Portman
Pat Toomey

The first four — McConnell, Cornyn, Thune, and Barrasso — are members of the the Senate leadership. The next three are chairman of the most relevant committees — Alexander (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions), Enzi (Budget), and Hatch (Finance).

The final six — Cruz, Lee, Cotton, Gardner, Portman, and Toomey — are discretionary picks. Anyone familiar with the Senate will understand that they are all, or nearly all, heavy hitters.

Have women been slighted by the absence of females in the working group? I don’t think so.

There are five female Republicans in the Senate — Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Joni Ernst, Shelly Moore Capito, and Deb Fischer. None is in top leadership and none chairs a relevant committee.

It’s unclear whether any of the five wanted to be in the working group. In any case, Collins and Murkowski are the two most centrist GOP Senators. Their thinking on health care reform is probably well outside the mainstream of the caucus. It wouldn’t have made sense for either to be in the working group.

Ernst, Capito, and Fischer are not outside the mainstream. We don’t know whether any of them wanted to be in the working group. We do know that none serves on a committee closely associated with Obamacare issues.

It may well be that at least one of the five GOP females would have been willing to participate in the working group. Thus, the Republicans probably could have “kept up appearances” by placing one of them on it.

However, one aide said: “We have no interest in playing the games of identity politics, that’s not what this is about; it’s about getting a job done.” Bravo.

The same aide noted the obvious: “We’ll work with any member of any background who wants to pass a health reform bill that will reduce premiums and take away the burdens that Obamacare inflicted.” Thus, the five female GOP members are not shut out of the discussion. Moreover, since no Democrats will vote for replacement legislation, no proposal will clear the Senate without at least three of the five female Republicans voting for it.

The fact that no Democrats in either the Senate or the House will vote for Obamacare replacement legislation highlights this reality: there is no distinctively female position or perspective on the issue. It all comes down partisanship and ideology.

The GOP working group is ideologically balanced. It includes conservatives like Cruz and Cotton and moderates like Portman and Gardner (though, as noted, the two most centrist members of the caucus aren’t in the group).

Will Democrats get mileage out of the absence of females in the GOP working group? I doubt it.

Given the importance of the issue, internal GOP process isn’t going to matter. As the saying goes, nobody cares about the labor pains, they just want to see the baby.

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