Schumer Floor Remarks On Senate Republicans’ Siding With President Trump’s Lawsuit To “Terminate” The Affordable Care Act Over The Health Care Of The American People

October 1, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) today spoke on the Senate floor in advance of a vote on proceeding to a bill to prevent the Trump administration from advocating in court to strike down the Affordable Care Act. The overwhelming majority of Republicans voted to block the bill. He also reiterated that a vote for Judge Barrett is a vote to terminate the Affordable Care Act and to overturn Roe. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

On another issue of great importance to America: the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has thrust the issue of health care back into the spotlight. Her confirmation to the highest court in the land could put health care for hundreds of millions of Americans at risk.

As you’d imagine, taking away health care is deeply unpopular with the American people. So, it seems, the strategy from the Republican majority is to invent some new distraction—a fresh outrage—to talk about.

My colleagues on the other side would rather talk about anything besides the fact that their president, their party, and their Supreme Court nominee poses a dire threat to Americans’ healthcare.

Today, the outrage from the Republican leader was directed, once again, at the idea that Democrats would attack the nominee’s religious beliefs. But of course, in their zeal to manufacture this issue, Republican Senators began telegraphing this line of attack even before a nominee had been named.

One Republican Senator wrote me a letter to warn against anti-Catholic attacks that happened yet against a nominee who hadn’t been named. That’s how transparent this Republican diversion, ruse is.

It appears that the Republican majority will crank up the outrage machine to any level of absurdity to avoid talking about America’s health care. The health care so many Americans desperately want and need. 

In fact, all week, the Republican Leader has mocked the idea that a far-right Supreme Court majority might strike down the Affordable Care Act, and that Judge Barrett might play a decisive role.

Of course, President Trump promised to nominate Supreme Court Justices who would “terminate” the Affordable Care Act. And he picked Judge Barrett.  

That's the president's words. He's only going to pick justices that would terminate the Affordable Care Act.

And it’s no mystery why he picked Judge Barrett. In both major cases brought against the ACA, Judge Barrett twice sided against the law. She publicly criticized Justice Roberts for upholding the law, and said that if the Supreme Court read the statute the way she does, they would have had to “invalidate” it.

President Trump: “terminate” it.

Judge Barrett: “invalidate” it. 

Guess what? President Trump and Republican Attorneys General are in court, right now, suing to do just that—invalidate our healthcare law—in a case that will be heard one week—one week—after the election.

The threat to Americans’ health care is very, very real.  

And Senate Republicans are tying themselves in knots in trying to explain how it’s not.

Leader McConnell, from the floor of the Senate, called it a “joke” –a “joke”—that Judge Barrett and a far-right majority on the Court might vote to take away health care or turn back the clock on women’s rights.

 Maybe he didn’t get that message around to his conference, because the Republican Senator from Utah, only a few days earlier, claimed that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional and that striking it down “shouldn’t tarnish” Judge Barrett if that’s what she chooses to do.

Another Republican Senator said he “wanted to see evidence that the nominee, [Amy Coney Barrett], understood that Roe was wrongly decided, that Roe was an act of judicial imperialism. And I do believe Amy Coney Barrett’s record bears that out.”

That’s his quote.

The Junior Senator from Missouri expressing confidence that Judge Barrett believes Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. On the Supreme Court, a Justice Barrett could enforce that view.

So which is it, Republican Leader?

Is it absurd to think that Judge Barrett might strike down the Affordable Care Act, or is it a good thing that shouldn’t tarnish her reputation?

Is it a joke that Judge Barrett could curtail women’s fundamental rights, or are Republican Senators relieved to think that she thinks Roe v. Wade is “judicial imperialism”?

Americans are starting to get pretty sick of these double standards and mealy-mouthed talking points.  

Pretty sick of politicians who, just four years ago, declared they couldn’t possibly confirm a Democratic nominee to the Supreme Court in the early months of an election year, but are now rushing to confirm a Republican nominee in the middle of an election that’s already underway.

And most of all, pretty sick of Republicans claiming that they support protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, while at the same time, supporting a lawsuit that would eliminate them. 

Well, we’re about to put a few of these Senate Republicans on the record.

Soon, the Senate will vote on a bill that, if passed, would protect the healthcare of hundreds of millions of Americans and prevent efforts by the Department of Justice to advocate that courts strike down the Affordable Care Act. 

I was able to move this measure to the floor, despite the fact that Republicans didn’t want it. And now we’ll have a vote.

Will Senate Republicans vote to stop President Trump’s Justice Department from spending taxpayer dollars trying to eliminate the taxpayers’ healthcare?

We will see very shortly.

If Senators truly want to support protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, they’d vote to damage President Trump’s legal effort to eliminate them. It’s as simple as that. No amount of sophistry or explanation is needed. Yes or no.

It’s simple as that. Are they with the people who want protection or not? Or are they standing with President Trump, who wants to destroy it? It is that simple. 

Because if the if President Trump and Republicans’ lawsuit is successful, every single American stands to lose vital health care protections or access to care.

Millions of Americans would see drug costs skyrocket.  

Tens of millions of families would lose health care coverage during the worst health crisis in a century.

More than 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions would lose vital protections, including every American who contracted COVID, which would be treated as a pre-existing condition.  

Women would see their country hurtle backward to a time when they could be charged more than men for insurance simply because they were women. This vote, which I was fortunate enough to obtain, will show America which party stands with protecting Americans’ health care, and protections for pre-existing conditions, and which party opposes it. It’s plain and simple.

Are you with Leader McConnell, who wants to rip away people’s protections?  

Are you with President Trump who wants to ruin our American health care by eliminating ACA?

Are you with the American people who desperately need these protections?

Are you with the mother or father whose son or daughter has cancer and the insurance company says you’re not getting any insurance?  

Are you gonna require that company to give them insurance that family so desperately needs?

The eyes of America are on this body and on Republican Senators right now.  

Who’s side are you on? President Trump’s or the American people who want health care?