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 BarrassoCentrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Eleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid GOP senators discuss impeachment with Trump after House vote 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) ManchinFormer coal exec Don Blankenship launches third-party presidential bid Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Overnight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics 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general argued that ObamaCare is unconstitutional because it can’t stand without the individual mandate, which Congress repealed last year.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 reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report 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: House Science Committee hits EPA with subpoenas | California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver | Interior disbands board that floated privatization at national parks California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver Microsoft to follow landmark California privacy law nationwide 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.