Harris sends letter to Barr demanding answers over ObamaCare repeal efforts

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisEx-Obama campaign manager: Sanders can't beat Trump Pollster says Trump's approval rating in 2020 will be impacted by Dem nominee 20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall MORE (D-Calif.) sent Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report 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.

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“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 MulvaneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday Trump ditches one-on-one meetings with vice president: report Dems demand documents on Trump 'sanctuary city' plan MORE and President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report 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.