House condemns Trump for challenge to health care law
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.”
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.