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 CollinsGOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill The other dangerous virus infecting our country The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December MORE (R-Maine) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December Congress headed toward unemployment showdown The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees 'strong likelihood' of another relief package; Warner says some businesses 'may not come back' at The Hill's Advancing America's Economy summit 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 BarrTrump sides with religious leaders in fight against governors Senate Democrats call on Trump administration to let Planned Parenthood centers keep PPP loans Senate Republicans call on DOJ to investigate Planned Parenthood loans 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 TrumpTrump retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams Biden swipes at Trump: 'Presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart' GOP sues California over Newsom's vote-by-mail order 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.