Harris sends letter to Barr demanding answers over ObamaCare repeal efforts

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Warren leads in speaking time during debate MORE (D-Calif.) sent Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGiuliani says he won't comply with subpoenas from Democrats Barr bemoans 'moral upheaval' that has brought 'suffering and misery' Trump threatens to sue Schiff and Pelosi MORE a letter Friday demanding answers over the Justice Department’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Harris, one of over a dozen Democrats running for president next year, cited Barr’s commitment during his confirmation hearing to reconsider the Justice Department’s opposition to ObamaCare and hammered the attorney general over his reading of the law.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I am deeply concerned,” Harris wrote. “This is an extreme and legally flawed position that threatens the health care and economic security of millions of Americans.”

“I urge you to examine the effects of your decision. If upheld, the Texas ruling would cause serious harm to millions of Americans. Nearly 20 million Americans could lose their health insurance. Protections for pre-existing conditions would be eliminated. Seniors would pay more for prescription drugs. And many young adults would no longer be able to stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.” 

The Department of Justice made a surprise announcement Monday that it was siding with the ruling of a district court in Texas that found the entire ACA unconstitutional.

Harris cited recent media reports that Barr and other administration officials who opposed siding with the Texas court decision were overruled by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyState Dept. official told to 'lay low' after voicing concerns about Giuliani: Dem lawmaker Democrats see John Bolton as potential star witness The Hill's Morning Report - Trump grapples with Turkey controversy MORE and President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE, suggesting Barr was allowing politics to interfere in the Justice Department’s policies.

“These events raise questions about your commitment to reconsider the Justice Department’s position,” Harris wrote.

“They also raise serious concerns about your obligation to protect the Department’s independence, shield it from political interference, and ensure compliance with Justice Department guidelines relating to appropriate communications with the White House,” she added. 

Harris went on to demand answers to a litany of questions by April 15, including if Barr has consulted with administration officials over its decision and if the administration has a plan to give health insurance to those who would lose it under an ACA repeal. 

Democrats were quick to seize on the administration’s announcement Monday, seeing Republican efforts to repeal ObamaCare as a winning issue among the Democratic base ahead of the 2020 election.

Congressional candidates across the country successfully campaigned on protecting the ACA in the 2018 midterm cycle that ushered in a 40-seat House wave. 

The administration’s new stance also puts Republicans on the defensive, forcing them to decide whether they will side with the administration.