People Are Calling Sen. Mazie Hirono's Deeply Personal Speech About Health Care A Must-Watch

Hirono is battling kidney cancer.

Early Friday morning, the United States Senate narrowly voted down the GOP's "skinny repeal" of the Affordable Care Act, 51 to 49. All Democratic senators voted no, along with three Republicans — Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and, in a move that inspired a gasp from the chamber, John McCain.

While many are praising McCain and his fellow dissenting Republicans for breaking with the rest of their party, some are pointing to another powerful moment from the night, when Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii delivered an emotional and deeply personal speech asking Republicans to show compassion when casting their votes.

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Hirono, the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, immigrated to the United States from Japan as a child. Like McCain, she is battling cancer — she was diagnosed with stage-four kidney cancer in May of this year and has since undergone surgeries. The senator drew on this experience, and others from her life, in a speech that has since gone viral.

Hirono fought back tears as she recalled her sister's death from pneumonia at two years old, and her fears growing up in Hawaii that her mother would get sick and they would not be able to afford her care. "I know what it's like to run out of money at the end of the month," she said. "That was my life as an immigrant here."

"And now here I am, a United States senator," she continued. "I am fighting kidney cancer, and I'm just so grateful that I had health insurance, so that I can concentrate on the care that I needed, rather than how the heck I was going to afford the care that was going to probably save my life."

Hirono spoke about the kind messages she received from her colleagues, including many Republicans, after her diagnosis. Many even shared their own experiences with illness. She asked them to show that same kindness to the American people. "You showed me your care. You showed me your compassion. Where is that tonight?"

The GOP's "skinny repeal" was estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to result in 16 million more uninsured by 2026. "I will yield the floor by asking my friends to show the compassion to everybody in this country that you showed me."

Video of Hirono's speech has been reposted and retweeted thousands of times on Twitter since Thursday night, with many calling it a must-watch. "If you watch one thing tonight, let it be this," the Senate Democrats' Twitter account posted. Others have called it an "incredibly moving" speech that is "worth your time."

After the vote, Sen. Hirono took to Twitter to declare that "the work continues" to ensure that the three dissenting Republicans' "heroic votes" will not "be for naught."

Earlier this week, Hirono was on the steps of the Capitol with her Democratic colleagues, speaking to protesters about the road ahead. "This is going to be a long fight," she told the crowd. "But there are fights worth fighting for, and this is one of them, because it affects every single one of us."

(H/T: Huffington Post)

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