As the senate debates the GOP’s disastrous “skinny” Affordable Care Act repeal, a senator who is battling cancer had delivered a condemnation of her Republican colleagues.
Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, held the floor on Thursday night and appealed to her coworkers conscience while fiercely denouncing the bill they are supposed to vote on in a matter of hours. She was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer in May and had surgery to remove a lesion a month ago.
“Where is your compassion?,” Hirono asked. “Where is the compassion you showed me when I was diagnosed with my illness?”
Hirono choked up as she explained how her sister died of pneumonia and as she detailed her upbringing as an immigrant in America. “I lost a sister to pneumonia when she was only 2-years-old in Japan,” Hirono said. “She died at home — not in a hospital where maybe her life could have been saved.”
When Hirono immigrated to the U.S., she said her greatest fear was how her family would afford healthcare if her mother ever got sick.
“I know what it’s like to run out of money at the end of the month. That was my life as an immigrant here,” Hirono said. “And now, here I am as a United States Senator; I am fighting kidney cancer and I am so grateful that I had health insurance so I could concentrate the care that I needed — rather than how I was going to afford healthcare.”
Understandably emotional, Hirono called out the GOP senators who reached out to her after her diagnosis — often sharing their family’s own medical struggles.
“You showed me your care. You showed me your compassion,” she challenged, visibly distressed. “Where is that tonight?”
I’m quite certain that if Republican senators aren’t swayed by the 16 million people expected to lose healthcare if their bill passes, they won’t be swayed by Hirono’s speech and story. The GOP is immune to sympathy.