House fires back at Trump by passing ObamaCare expansion

The House on Monday passed a bill to expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as Democrats seek to hammer President TrumpDonald John TrumpWayfair refutes QAnon-like conspiracy theory that it's trafficking children Stone rails against US justice system in first TV interview since Trump commuted his sentence Federal appeals court rules Trump admin can't withhold federal grants from California sanctuary cities MORE and Republicans on health care heading into the November elections.

The legislation, which passed in a largely party-line vote of 234 to 179, would increase the 2010 health law’s subsidies that help people afford their premiums and add more federal funding for Medicaid expansion.

Democrats timed the vote to contrast with the Trump administration’s legal brief filed with the Supreme Court last week calling for the ACA to be struck down, a move Democrats said would be even more harmful during the coronavirus pandemic.

“How can it be that at this very moment, when the value of the ACA is so plainly obvious to tens of millions of Americans, the administration is in court trying to strike it down?” said Rep. Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Thomas Kean wins GOP primary to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski House fires back at Trump by passing ObamaCare expansion MORE (D-N.J.), one of several first-term lawmakers in the House facing competitive reelection races who spoke in favor of the bill.

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“Unlike the president, we are willing to tell the American people now exactly how we plan to improve health care in America,” he added. “We believe that the ACA should be improved, not taken away.”

The measure steers clear of the internal Democratic debate over "Medicare for All" and does not include any kind of government-run health insurance program, often called a “public option.”

The bill is not expected to go anywhere in the GOP-controlled Senate given Republican opposition to the ACA, also known as ObamaCare.

Republicans countered that they were not consulted on the “partisan” bill. 

"Today’s vote is a messaging vote,” said Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradySupreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress House fires back at Trump by passing ObamaCare expansion Congress set for fight over expiring unemployment relief MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. “It’s political. Politics should not control how we write health care policy. Instead we should be working on bipartisan provisions that can be signed into law.”

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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealPandemic highlights need for federal long-term care insurance Supreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress Five takeaways from PPP loan data MORE (D-Mass.) argued that Republicans did not try for bipartisan health care solutions when they were in control of the House.

“I’ve been here for a long time. Where was this bipartisanship?” he said. “They have not agreed amongst themselves on health care, never mind agreeing with Democrats on health care."

Defending the ACA was a key strategy used by Democrats in 2018, when they won back the House. The party is returning to the same playbook for the 2020 elections as it attempts to win back the White House and Senate as well.

The legislation passed by the House on Monday is paid for with a measure that would allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, which Republicans said would hinder pharmaceutical innovation that's especially needed in the middle of a pandemic.

“Fewer cures during a pandemic. Are you kidding me?” said Rep. Buddy CarterEarl (Buddy) Leroy CarterOvernight Health Care: Trump says White House will pressure governors to open schools | Administration formally moves to withdraw US from WHO | Fauci warns against 'false complacency' on COVID-19 House fires back at Trump by passing ObamaCare expansion Loeffler works to gain traction with conservatives amid Collins primary bid MORE (R-Ga.). “That's the last thing America needs right now.”

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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi70 progressive groups call for next Foreign Affairs chair to reflect 'progressive realism' House to vote next week on ridding Capitol of Confederate statues Eye on gavel, Wasserman Schultz proposes panel on racial inequality in spending MORE (D-Calif.) told The Washington Post last week that “health care for all Americans” would be the top policy priority in 2021 if Democrats win the House, Senate and White House.

This bill could provide the foundation of that effort, but the battle over Medicare for All is sure to complicate the Democratic health care push next year, though Democrats are currently side-stepping it in their current measure. 

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Runoff elections in Texas, Alabama set for Tuesday Biden campaign slams White House attacks on Fauci as 'disgusting' Biden lets Trump be Trump MORE said in a speech last week, "We need a public option now more than ever.”