Senate

Democrats seize on DOJ’s ObamaCare decision ahead of midterms

Greg Nash
Congressional Democrats are seizing on the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to not defend key parts of ObamaCare in court, signaling they think the issue could pay political dividends in November.
 
The DOJ, as part of its announcement late last week, argued the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be invalidated because the individual mandate that required people have insurance or pay a penalty is now repealed.
 
Despite a flurry of North Korea news on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) started his weekly news conference with reporters by talking about health care, saying his caucus would not be “diverted.” 
 
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“Democrats have not and will not lose sight of the fact that the Trump administration and the Republican Congress have systematically worked to sabotage our health-care system. … If you ask the American people the number one issue they care about it’s health care, not anything else,” Schumer said.
 
Schumer said the DOJ’s decision was “shameful” and Democrats will try to force health care-related votes on the Senate floor throughout the summer. 
 
“This November, Americans will go to the polls knowing that President Trump and Republicans in Congress have spent two years dismantling the nation’s health-care system. They’ll have the opportunity to vote to move the country in a different direction,” he added.
 
In addition to Schumer’s comments, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.) held a conference call with reporters earlier Tuesday to discuss the DOJ’s decision and House Democrats are expected to hold a press conference on the issue Wednesday.
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday that “everybody” in the Senate is in favor of protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions.
 
“Everybody I know in the Senate — everybody — is in favor of maintaining coverage for pre-existing conditions. There is no difference in opinion about that whatsoever,” McConnell said at his weekly press conference.
 
McConnell also blamed Democrats for not agreeing to a health-insurance market stabilization package last year hashed out by GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.).
 
Schumer fired back that Republicans should urge the Trump administration to reverse its decision not to defend key parts of the health-care law.
 
Meanwhile, David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement that Republicans “want to slash coverage for pre-existing conditions.”
 
“Voters will hold every Republican Senate candidate accountable for spiking their costs and slashing their coverage,” he added. 
 
Democrats have viewed the fight over ObamaCare during the Trump administration as a winning issue for them politically.
 
No Democratic senator voted for the GOP legislation last year that would repeal or repeal and replace the health-care law. 
 
More than 1 in 5 voters, 22 percent, say that health care is their top issue in the November midterm election, according to a NBC News–Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this month
 
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who is running for reelection in a state won by Trump, retweeted an individual saying voters who support protections for pre-existing conditions should vote for her, adding “just. that. simple.”
 
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W-Va.) highlighted the issue in a tweet, saying that “an ongoing lawsuit would allow insurance companies to once again deny coverage to [West Virginians] with pre-existing conditions.”
 
The original brief from GOP-led states targeting the health-care law included Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), who is running to unseat McCaskill, and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), who is running to unseat Manchin.
 
Meanwhile, American Bridge, an outside super PAC, launched digital ads against GOP candidates in key Senate battleground states, including Nevada, where GOP Sen. Dean Heller is the only Republican Senate incumbent running in a state won by Hillary Clinton. 
Tags 2018 midterms Charles Schumer Chris Murphy Claire McCaskill Dean Heller Democrats Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Joe Manchin Lamar Alexander Mitch McConnell ObamaCare Susan Collins
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