Democrats pass resolution condemning Obamacare lawsuit
The House passed a resolution Wednesday that instructs the Trump administration to drop its support for a lawsuit that could dismantle Obamacare, elevating a 2020 campaign issue and pressuring Republicans to explain what they’d do if millions lost coverage tied to the law.
The resolution by Rep. Colin Allred, Texas Democrat, passed 240-186.
Senate GOP leaders aren’t about to take up the measure, which condemns President Trump’s actions and offers clear support for the Democrats’ signature 2010 health reforms.
Yet eight House Republicans voted for the resolution, underscoring the heartburn some in the GOP feel about Mr. Trump’s moves especially since Republicans failed to replace Obamacare and punted any future attempts until 2021.
Democrats say the state-driven lawsuit, if successful, could put Obamacare-related coverage for millions at risk before the next election.
They want the Justice Department to reconsider its decision outlined in court papers last week not to defend the Affordable Care Act before a federal appeals court in New Orleans in the meantime.
“By refusing to defend the ACA in court, the Trump administration is asking the courts to do what President Trump and a Republican Congress could not repeal the ACA and all of the protections that it includes for the American people,” Rep. Frank Pallone, New Jersey Democrat, said.
His party sees the fight as a winning issue heading into 2020, after House Democrats rode health care to the majority in November.
The following month, a Texas judge ruled that Congress’ decision to gut Obamacare’s “individual mandate” made the rest of the law unconstitutional, meaning the program would fall apart if his ruling is held up on appeal.
Mr. Trump last week said he wants to use a final ruling against Obamacare to force House Democrats to the table and pass a new health plan after the GOP’s embarrassing failure in 2017.
He backtracked late Monday, saying any vote would happen after the 2020 election, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his conference had no interest in taking up comprehensive health reform while Democrats control the House.
Mr. Trump said Wednesday he never planned on calling for a vote to replace Obamacare prior to the election, adding a plan is in development and will be used as a “campaign issue” next year.
“It will be on full display during the Election as a much better less expensive alternative to ObamaCare,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “This will be a great campaign issue.”
He said it was misreported that he’d asked Mr. McConnell for a vote.
However, the Senate leader on Tuesday characterized a Monday phone call with Mr. Trump as an attempt to dissuade the president from acting before the next election.
Mr. Trump’s own fiscal 2020 budget calls for replacing Obamacare with a series of block grants or per-capita allotments that allow states to spend federal health dollars as they see fit.
Democrats reject that idea, though they’re holding their own debate on how to plug holes in Obamacare and cover those who are still unable to afford insurance. Some of them want to usher in a government-run, single-payer system, while others would like to offer more limited public options.
Republicans say those ideas amount to a government takeover of health care, though a Politico/Morning Consult poll Wednesday said 45 percent of Americans trust Democrats to handle health care reform, compared to 35 percent of those who put their faith in Republicans.
Bailey Vogt contributed to this article.