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Democrats turn focus to health care for Supreme Court fight

Democrats turn focus to health care for Supreme Court fight
© Pool

Democrats are increasingly focusing on health care in pushing back on President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE's expected Supreme Court nominee, with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom PerezThomas PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE warning Saturday that a bolstered conservative majority on the court could vote to overturn ObamaCare.

Perez, speaking on NBC's "Today" show, warned that the issue of health care is at stake both in the presidential election on Nov. 3 and one week later when the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in a Trump administration-backed lawsuit seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

"Health care is on the ballot on Nov. 3. Health care is on the docket on Nov. 10. And we are going to remind voters every single day," Perez said.

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"The American people with preexisting conditions understand that the Republicans had control of everything in 2017. They couldn’t get rid of ObamaCare because the American people understand how important protections for people with preexisting conditions are. So now they’re trying to do another end run," he added.

The Democratic leader tore into Republicans who are looking to fill the Supreme Court vacancy before the election, noting that the Senate GOP blocked former President Obama from filling an opening in 2016 during the last presidential election.

“We saw from [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief MORE [R-Ky.]: ‘The American people should have a say in who the nominee is.’ Those aren’t my words. Those are Mitch McConnell's. [Sen.] Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial Democrats formally elect Harrison as new DNC chair McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February MORE [R-S.C.], the same thing. Every member of the committee in 2016. The hypocrisy is rank,” Perez said.

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Democrats have launched an array of attacks on Senate Republicans ahead of Trump's nomination to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgNYC street and subway signs transformed to welcome Biden, bid farewell to Trump Schumer and McConnell trade places, but icy relationship holds Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader MORE. The late justice, who served on the court for 27 years and was its liberal leader, died last week and laid in state in the Capitol on Friday.

Trump is expected to name Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettPolitical peace starts with everyday interactions A Day in Photos: The Biden Inauguration Schumer and McConnell trade places, but icy relationship holds MORE, a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, as his pick during an event in the White House Rose Garden on Saturday afternoon. Conservatives have long urged Trump to pick Barrett for the court, and she was on his original list of potential nominees.

Barrett has not offered extensive remarks on the Obama administration's signature health care law in the past, though she has been critical of Supreme Court decisions protecting ObamaCare.

"Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute," Barrett wrote in 2017. "He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power; had he treated the payment as the statute did — as a penalty — he would have had to invalidate the statute as lying beyond Congress's commerce power."

Some Democrats have expressed frustration over the party's messaging ahead of the Senate fight to confirm Trump's expected Supreme Court pick, the third one he has put forward since taking office. Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzFor platform regulation Congress should use a European cheat sheet Senate Democrats rebuke GOP colleagues who say they'll oppose Electoral College results 11 Senate Republicans say they will oppose Electoral College results Wednesday MORE (D-Hawaii) tweeted Friday night that "a little message discipline wouldn’t kill us."

Schatz highlighted messaging from former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer, who argued that the GOP is rushing to fill a court vacancy so the party can install a justice who would vote to overturn the Obama-era health care law, “kicking millions off their health care.” Pfeiffer said Democrats “should say this, using these words.”

Democrats have signaled they intend to emphasize the Texas-led lawsuit against ObamaCare during the confirmation fight. "It'll be a major focus," Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSchumer becomes new Senate majority leader Democrats torn on impeachment trial timing Justice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr without charges MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told NBC News this week. "There are others."

Perez argued Saturday that Republicans are seeking to undermine the ACA, abortion access and a string of other liberal priorities with another Supreme Court pick, though he acknowledged that with Democrats in the minority in the Senate, there’s little the party can do to stop Trump’s pick from being confirmed.

“We’re going to subject the nominee to a lot of questions. Again, the Affordable Care Act is on the ballot. What is this person going to protect people with preexisting conditions? How do you feel about precedent? Are you going to throw it out the window so that you can achieve the president’s agenda of getting rid of health care for people with preexisting conditions? Those are important questions to ask,” he said when asked what the party could do to prevent a nominee from being confirmed.