Bipartisan pair of senators urges Barr to defend ObamaCare in court

Bipartisan pair of senators urges Barr to defend ObamaCare in court
© Greg Nash

Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights MORE (R-Maine) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Senate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats MORE (D-W.Va.) are urging the Trump administration to reconsider its position that a federal court should strike down the entire Affordable Care Act.

In a letter to Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Five takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Trump declassification move unnerves Democrats MORE, the senators said the Justice Department has a responsibility to uphold the health care law.

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

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE has been stepping up his attacks on the law in his speeches and in court. In a recent speech, he praised the repeal of the individual mandate before adding, “now we’re going for the rest.”

The administration last week filed its official legal argument in a lawsuit brought by a coalition of GOP-led states calling for overturning the law. The case is currently making its way through the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, but legal experts from both parties don’t expect it to succeed.

Collins and Manchin said they think the judge’s initial decision to strike down the law is “legally flawed.”

They senators wrote that Congress clearly did not intend to eliminate the whole ObamaCare law when they eliminated the financial penalty for the individual mandate, and said they were concerned about the impact striking down the law would have on the 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, who could be at risk of losing health coverage.

“Congress can work together to fix legislatively the parts of the law that aren’t working, but we must not let this flawed court decision stand and devastate millions of seniors, young adults, women, children and working families,” Collins and Manchin wrote.

Yet with a divided Congress and the highly polarizing nature of the law, most observers expect little bipartisan action on it this year.