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.

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The case is almost certainly headed for an appeal. 

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump boxed in on trade Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Mike Enzi announces he'll retire from Senate after 2020 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) ManchinLabor head warns of 'frightening uptick' in black lung disease among miners Labor leader: Trump has stopped erosion of coal jobs Overnight Energy: States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules | Greens seek hearing over proposed rule on energy efficiency tests | Top Dem asks GAO to investigate climate threat 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general argued that ObamaCare is unconstitutional because it can’t stand without the individual mandate, which Congress repealed last year.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 TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' 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: Trump moves forward with rule on California drilling | House panel advances bill that resumes participation in Paris climate fund | Perry pressed on 'environmental justice' | 2020 Dem proposes climate corps Trump administration moves forward with final rule to allow new California drilling Overnight Energy: Interior chief says climate response falls on Congress | Bernhardt insists officials will complete offshore drilling plans | Judge rules EPA must enforce Obama landfill pollution rules 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.