“Dear GOP: When Democrats are setting themselves ablaze by advocating for the destruction of American health care, try to resist the temptation of asking them to pass the kerosene,” tweeted Josh Holmes, a Republican consultant who previously served as chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Michael Steel, the longtime press secretary for then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), posted that moving to repeal Obamacare without a consensus alternative “makes as much political sense as diving headfirst into a wood chipper.”
Democrats are already going on the offense, believing that the administration’s position on the lawsuit will matter far more to voters in 2020 than anything coming out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election.
On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced plans to introduce an amendment to a disaster aid funding bill that would prohibit the Justice Department from using any more funds to litigate that lawsuit seeking to strike down the entirety of Obamacare ― the one where the department is essentially siding with the plaintiffs. Schumer’s goal, in the unlikely event that a vote on his amendment is granted by McConnell, is to get GOP senators on the record about where they stand on the lawsuit.
Still, Republicans insisted on Wednesday that making another run at repealing Obamacare was a matter worth discussing even though it would prove more difficult this year than it did when they controlled both houses of Congress.
“It would be very hard. That’s all pie in the sky,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), adding that conversations were needed to explore how “we move it forward.”
Asked how Republicans can repeal Obamacare with Nancy Pelosi wielding the speaker’s gavel, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said, “Very carefully.”
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), meanwhile, said that his party needs to address the issue of Obamacare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which the lawsuit is seeking to invalidate. If that legal challenge succeeds in the courts, it would also do away with other popular provisions of the law like the one allowing parents to keep their children on their health insurance plan until the kids turn 26 years old.
“That obviously hurt us last November because it was mischaracterized, but we can do a lot better job of taking care of pre-existing conditions,” Wicker said.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who opposed the 2017 Obamacare repeal effort, said the law needs to be repaired through legislation rather than eliminated by a legal challenge, which could throw the entire health care system into chaos. She urged the president to come up with an alternative plan before that happens.
“He’s sort of got the cart before the horse. You need to have a plan for what a replacement would be that would improve upon the ACA,” Collins said of Trump’s push for repeal.