Obama urges Dems to fight GOP on ObamaCare
President Obama urged Democrats to fight Republican efforts to repeal ObamaCare during a rare trip Wednesday to Capitol Hill.
The current president challenged lawmakers to take on an uphill fight even as Vice President-elect Mike Pence met separately with House Republicans on the new administration’s plans to repeal Obama’s signature legislative achievement.
In a meeting that lasted longer than 90 minutes, Obama argued that many voters will support efforts to uphold ObamaCare, despite the election of Republican Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise to repeal what he has called a disastrous law.
“I think the president made a strong point that the individual provisions of the Affordable Care Act are popular and that we know we’re right on policy and we have to be able to get this message out to the American people,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said following the meeting.
Democrats coalesced around the sharper political message Wednesday that if Republicans repeal the law, they’ll be responsible for any negative consequences that might follow.
“They want to repeal and then try to hang it on us. Not going to happen. It’s their responsibility plan and simple,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the new Senate Democratic leader, told reporters after the meeting.
Schumer rolled out a new slogan on Wednesday arguing Republicans and Trump are threatening to “make America sick again.”
Obama largely avoided taking questions on Wednesday, but said as he left the meeting that he told lawmakers “to look out for the American people.”
Pence told Republicans that Trump would take executive actions on day one to begin the process of repealing ObamaCare, though he offered no details on what those actions would specifically do.
While Republicans will control the White House and both chambers of Congress on Jan. 20, they still face challenges and disagreements with ObamaCare repeal.
They have discussed leaving people with ObamaCare coverage for a transition period, but do not agree on how long the transition should last. There are concerns of a political backlash if people lose coverage from the law’s repeal.
Republicans are using a budget process known as reconciliation to attack the law. Reconciliation allows Congress to approve legislation covering spending and taxes without the threat of a filibuster. The use of the process will cut into the leverage of Democrats, who might otherwise be able to block ObamaCare’s repeal in the Senate.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Obama told Democrats that the American people support their values and to “take the fight” to Republicans.
Cardin said Democrats would “fight with everything we have” to save the law.