Senator cites pope in ObamaCare's defense

Senator cites pope in ObamaCare's defense
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Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Federal guidance identifying 'go back to where you came from' as discrimination goes viral after Trump comments Trump's pick to lead Pentagon glides through confirmation hearing MORE (D-Va.) on Thursday cited Pope Francis in defending ObamaCare against a lawsuit heard by the Supreme Court. 

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Kaine, a Catholic, pointed to the pope's message from the beginning of the season of Lent, when he called for "islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference."

"The Affordable Care Act reaches into lives that have often been drowned in a sea of indifference and offers those lives some mercy," Kaine said on a conference call with faith leaders defending the healthcare law.

Pope Francis has been invoked by other Democrats, including President Obama, in the past. He is set to address a joint session of Congress in September. 

The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments in the case of King v. Burwell, which could gut ObamaCare by invalidating subsidies that help about 7.5 million people pay for health insurance.

While the case centers on whether the phrase "established by the state" prohibits the federal exchange from distributing subsidies, Kaine argued the case was not about a few words.

"It's not about words on a page, it's not about some arcane statutory reference," Kaine said. "It's about whether the plaintiffs will succeed in stripping away from millions of American the financial support that they use to buy health insurance for the first time in their lives."

The Obama administration and other Democrats have been looking to show the court the practical effects of a ruling against the subsidies.

Other faith leaders on the call also made the case for the law.

"We are advocating and praying that the Supreme Court will see that this is about life and death, and choose life," said Sister Simone Campbell, a leader of the Nuns on the Bus movement, which advocates for causes such as economic fairness and immigration reform.

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, also made a religious argument for the health law. 

"If every person was created in God's image, then doesn't everyone deserve access to quality healthcare?" he said.