SAN DIEGO (CN) – Republican Congressman Darrell Issa voted Thursday to begin the repeal of President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law, much to the ire of constituents who’ve been protesting at the San Diego politician’s office since the election.
Issa, R-Vista, cast one of the votes needed for President Donald Trump’s American Health Care Act to pass in the House of Representatives. The bill next heads to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle.
The measure narrowly passed, 217-213, with all House Democrats and 20 Republicans voting against it.
Issa dodged questions from constituents about how he intended to vote all week and even into Thursday morning.
Ellen Montanari, a protester who lives in Issa’s district and organized “Resist Trump Tuesdays” at the congressman’s local office, said about 100 protesters gathered at Issa’s office Thursday and tried multiple times to find out how their congressman would vote on the health care bill.
Although Issa’s district director Bill Christansen apparently told the protesters that staff did not know how their boss would vote on the bill, Montanari said the congressman’s press office issued a statement immediately after Issa cast his vote.
“Today’s vote gives a voice to the victims of Obamacare, the millions of Americans who are paying higher premiums, receiving less coverage and for who the status quo offered no end in sight,” the statement said.
“Obamacare is doing real harm to California’s families and struggling businesses, and constituents are counting on me to deliver real relief.”
All eyes have been on Issa since he won reelection last year by a little over 1,600 votes in a traditionally Republican district that has begun leaning Democratic: Hillary Clinton carried the district in November.
Immediately after the vote, those outraged by Issa’s vote took to social media vowing to vote him out in the 2018 midterm elections and soliciting donations for the Democratic contenders vying for Issa’s congressional seat.
On Tuesday, Issa told a Washington reporter who’d asked him how he’d vote that it was “none of your business” and “you’re not my constituent.”
10News San Diego reporter Marie Coronel followed-up on the question via Twitter, to which Issa responded, “Undecided and still reviewing the changes to the bill.”
When Republicans initially tried to get the health care bill passed, Issa told his constituents at a March town hall meeting in his district – which covers North San Diego County and parts of South Orange County – he would not vote for a health care replacement that did not protect those with preexisting conditions.
“I would like him to explain why before, when he said that kids with special needs and those with pre-existing conditions would not be affected by the bill and he would not vote for a bill that did not protect them, why did he change his mind,” Montanari said.
“If that’s what repeal and replace means, then we need new people in government.”
The current iteration of Trump’s health care plan does not offer protections from higher insurance costs for those with pre-existing conditions which include cancer, diabetes, pregnancy and rape, and a host of other conditions.
A protest is scheduled for Tuesday at Issa’s Vista headquarters.