Senate GOP blocks bid to intervene in ObamaCare case

Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a vote on a resolution that would have allowed the Senate to intervene in a federal lawsuit against ObamaCare.

Democrats asked for unanimous consent to authorize the Senate legal counsel to defend ObamaCare in court after a district judge in Texas declared the entire law unconstitutional last week.

ADVERTISEMENT

The case is almost certainly headed for an appeal. 

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Energy: House stimulus aims to stem airline pollution | Environmental measures become sticking point in Senate talks | Progressives propose T 'green stimulus' GOP blames environmental efforts, but Democrats see public health problems with stimulus Rand Paul's coronavirus diagnosis sends shockwaves through Senate MORE (R-Wyo.) objected to a vote on the resolution and accused Democrats of playing politics. Only one senator needs to object to block a unanimous consent motion.

“Regardless of what happens in this legal process, we look to protect people with pre-existing conditions,” Barrasso said. 

Democrats argue that Republicans should want the Senate to intervene if they support protections for people with pre-existing conditions. 

“If people say we all have sympathy and empathy for people with pre-existing conditions, if you want to protect then ... at least allow us to move forward on a unanimous consent so we can fight and have a fighting chance, as this thing will be appealed to the higher courts,” Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinWhite House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package Some Democrats growing antsy as Senate talks drag on Senate fails to advance coronavirus stimulus bill for second time in two days MORE (D-W.Va.) said.

Democrats have tried to tie the lawsuit to Republicans because the Trump administration declined to defend against the lawsuit filed by 20 Republican attorneys general. 

The attorneys general argued that ObamaCare is unconstitutional because it can’t stand without the individual mandate, which Congress repealed last year.

The administration argued that patient protections in the law, including those for people with pre-existing conditions, will be unconstitutional once the mandate penalty repeal takes effect Jan. 1.

“It is not too late for you to condemn this decision by requesting a stay and taking steps to defend the Affordable Care Act [ACA] moving forward,” Senate Democrats wrote in a letter to President TrumpDonald John TrumpHealth insurers Cigna, Humana waive out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus treatment Puerto Rico needs more federal help to combat COVID-19 Fauci says April 30 extension is 'a wise and prudent decision' MORE on Wednesday.

“The ACA is, quite simply, the law of the land, and it is your Administration’s duty to defend it.”

Democratic attorneys general, led by California’s Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Energy: Court upholds Trump repeal of Obama fracking rule | Oil price drop threatens fracking boom | EPA eases rules on gasoline sales amid coronavirus Court OKs Trump repeal of Obama public lands fracking rule Hillicon Valley: House passes key surveillance bill | Paul, Lee urge Trump to kill FISA deal | White House seeks help from tech in coronavirus fight | Dem urges Pence to counter virus misinformation MORE, won the right to intervene and defend the law over the summer, and have vowed to appeal the decision.

House Democrats have said they will vote to intervene in the lawsuit once they assume the majority in January.