House con­demns Trump for chal­lenge to health care law

The Tribune (SLO) - - Insight - BY ROBERT PEAR

WASHINGTON

The House voted Wed­nes­day to con­demn the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion for push­ing a fed­eral ap­peals court to oblit­er­ate the Af­ford­able Care Act, and it urged the Jus­tice Depart­ment to de­fend the law in court.

The vote, 240-186, was non­bind­ing, but it doc­u­mented the House’s sup­port of the health law, which was passed nine years ago with­out the votes of any Repub­li­cans. With the res­o­lu­tion, Democrats sought to put Repub­li­cans on the record for fail­ing to come to the de­fense of the health law’s most pop­u­lar pro­vi­sions, such as pro­tect­ing peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions and man­dat­ing cov­er­age for “essential health ben­e­fits,” like men­tal health cov­er­age, pre­scrip­tion drugs, emer­gency ser­vices and ma­ter­nity care.

Eight Repub­li­cans voted for it. One Demo­crat was op­posed.

“The Af­ford­able Care Act is the law of the land, and it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Jus­tice Depart­ment and the ad­min­is­tra­tion to de­fend the law of the land in court,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said. “What are they do­ing? Just the op­po­site. Why? Be­cause they don’t believe in gov­er­nance. That is why they are happy to shut down gov­ern­ment.”

The res­o­lu­tion, which ex­presses the sentiment of the House but is not sub­ject to ap­proval by the Se­nate or by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, states: “The ac­tions taken by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion seek­ing the in­val­i­da­tion of the ACA’s pro­tec­tions for peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions, and later the in­val­i­da­tion of the en­tire ACA, are an unac­cept­able assault on the health care of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

Repub­li­cans called it an empty ges­ture.

“This will do noth­ing for your health care,” said the House Repub­li­can leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. “But what will it do? It will make a great press release.”

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said the res­o­lu­tion was a po­lit­i­cal screed and “doesn’t do a darn thing to pro­tect peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions.”

“Democrats would rather play pol­i­tics with health care and attack the pres­i­dent for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses, rather than work with us on what could and should be bi­par­ti­san so­lu­tions,” Walden said.

Amid blow­back from Capi­tol Hill, Trump switched gears Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to pres­i­den­tial tweets re­ported by The As­so­ci­ated Press. In tweets, Trump sug­gested he never wanted Con­gress to vote to re­place the ACA, of­ten re­ferred to as Oba­macare, un­til af­ter the 2020 elec­tion.

Trump’s new tweets shifted his ra­tio­nale for the ACA fight. First he said it was his choice to put off the health care votes. Then he said he never ex­pected there to be any votes at all un­til af­ter 2020.

Trump claimed Wed­nes­day he had never in­tended to re­open old wounds. But in keep­ing the is­sue at the fore­front, the pres­i­dent put fresh at­ten­tion on the GOP’s long-run­ning ef­fort to end ACA.

Democrats rel­ished the opportunity to test Repub­li­cans’ com­mit­ment to health care, an is­sue sure to fig­ure in 2020 elec­tions.

“I have heard my col­leagues on the other side of the aisle re­peat­edly claim that they stand for pro­tec­tions for peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions and for other pro­tec­tions in­cluded in the Af­ford­able Care Act,” said Rep. Frank Pal­lone Jr., D-N.J., chair­man of the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee. “Well, now is your chance to show it.”

ANDREW HARNIK AP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California calls the House cham­ber to or­der Wed­nes­day. Later, she led the House in a non-bind­ing vote to con­demn the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion for push­ing a fed­eral ap­peals court to strike down the Af­ford­able Care Act.

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