Take a look at the photos above. These are the 13 Republican senators picked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to decide the future of health care in America.
Notice anything besides their well-groomed appearances?
All are men. Not a mother or a daughter in the bunch.
These are the people who will write the Senate version of a Republican health care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. They will decide how far the Senate goes along with a House bill that repeatedly short-changes women.
They will decide whether states, as provided in the House bill, can drop mandatory insurance coverage for pregnancies and maternity health care. They will decide whether insurers can opt out of other benefits of particular importance to women, such as mammograms, cervical cancer screenings and birth control.
Republican Susan Collins of Maine was left out of the working group, which is a real head-scratcher. Collins authored a health care bill reform bill with Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana that they introduced in January. She is a moderate who has objected to efforts by conservatives to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood.
Oh, wait, maybe that’s why McConnell and the boys don’t want her.
Twenty-one women serve in the U.S. Senate, the highest number in American history. Five of them are Republicans. But a men’s club is the best McConnell can do. In 2017.
“The working group that counts is all 52 of us,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “Nobody is being excluded because of gender.”
That would be an almost Trump-like insult to the public’s intelligence. A working group, by definition, is not everybody. It is a subset of a whole. And this working group is all men.
McConnell also left out Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, which makes no sense. Scott, the only African-American Republican in the Senate, is a licensed insurance agent. He knows a thing or two about the industry.
McConnell concerned himself with diversity in the working group in just one way. He made sure to include diehard conservatives such as Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah. And he included himself.
Last Tuesday, the boys — we mean working group — asked Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia to join them. How thoughtful!
But when asked if she is now a permanent member of the group, Moore Capito said she didn’t know. Nobody had told her.
Does it trouble Senate Republicans that women could lose significant health care protections under House Speaker Paul Ryan’s bill?
Look at those 13 faces above again. What’s your guess?