“Democrats in the Senate have been working hard to pass legislation to address racial injustice and get the American people the resources they need,” said Senator Durbin. “I just hope the Republican Party will stop its misguided attack on the Affordable Care Act and join us in a bipartisan effort to address the challenges America faces.”
Washington, D.C. – As America continues to battle a raging coronavirus, racial injustice, and record unemployment, Senator Durbin delivers this week’s Weekly Democratic Address. Senator Durbin begins by sharing stories of Americans who need health care coverage more than ever. He emphasizes that in addition to mismanaging the coronavirus response, President Trump and Senate Republicans are working to dismantle the Affordable Care Act by confirming right-wing judges who are hostile to our health care law. He underscores that communities of color are the hardest hit by these crises and notes that Democrats are working to pass legislation to help these families. Senator Durbin closes by calling on Republicans to drop their attacks on the Affordable Care Act and join Democrats in addressing these challenges.
Senator Durbin’s remarks as delivered follow:
“We face so many challenges today. This pandemic, COVID-19, the state of the economy and systemic racism in law enforcement. Americans across the country are asking for leadership and action and sadly, this president, this Administration is failing them.
“To date, we’ve lost more than 115,000 American lives to COVID-19, more than two million people have been infected nationwide.
“While Congress has passed several bipartisan bills to help those affected by the pandemic, we’ve not done nearly enough to help the American people—many of whom are trying to figure out how they’re going to pay for that mortgage or that rent, put food on the table, educate their kids, or find the needed health care for their family.
“Over the duration of this pandemic, more than 36 million Americans have lost their jobs, tens of millions also have lost their health insurance.
“I have heard from hundreds of constituents about their personal stories about losing health insurance in this pandemic – they’re scared to death for their families’ safety and asking for the peace of mind we all want.
“Emily from Oak Park, Illinois, wrote to me about how she recently lost her job and is not eligible to enroll in the Affordable Care Act plan because the federal government has not created a new special enrollment period.
“Jon from Yorkville, Illinois, told me he lost his job and can’t afford health care coverage for himself and his family. He’s worried about losing his wife if she catches the virus at work.
“I was once a young father of a child with a serious health condition and I didn’t have any health insurance. I know how terrifying that experience can be, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic.
“At a time of great uncertainty, the last thing people need is for their government to rip health insurance away from them.
“The last thing we need is President Trump trying to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including the 2.2 million Americans who have now been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“Yet, that’s exactly what the Trump Administration wants to do in their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“After years and years of trying and failing to undo the Affordable Care Act in Congress, the Trump Administration and Republican officials are fighting in the Supreme Court to strike the law. There is a case pending just across the street from Congress in the Supreme Court right now that could be handed down any day.
“And this week, Senate Majority Leader McConnell has scheduled votes on two judicial nominees with records of open hostility to the Affordable Care Act. Think about that. In the midst of a national health emergency, Senator McConnell is looking for judges for lifetime appointments who want to do away of the one guarantee of protection for millions of Americans.
“The Affordable Care Act has provided 20 million Americans with quality health insurance, protecting people with pre-existing conditions from the abuse of insurance company.
“We need it now—more than ever— to ensure that all communities, especially families of color, continue to have access to critical health care coverage.
“Perhaps those most hard hit by this Administration’s mismanaged pandemic response are the communities of color.
“Black and Latinx families are bearing the brunt of this virus crisis, once again reminding us of the unacceptable and devastating inequality in our nation’s health care system.
“It’s a system that too often sees communities of color left behind without any health insurance, without access to affordable health care, and with higher rates of chronic conditions.
“Not only that, but the devastating killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black Americans have reminded us yet again how the crushing effects of racial injustice weigh on communities of color every day.
“Today, as we celebrate Juneteenth and the end of chattel slavery in the United States, we must also acknowledge just how much more work there is to be done.
“Democrats in the Senate have been working hard to pass legislation to address racial injustice and get the American people the resources they need—more testing, additional resources for health care providers, financial security for struggling families and small businesses and improved access to health insurance coverage.
“I just hope the Republican Party will stop its misguided attack on the Affordable Care Act and join us in a bipartisan effort to address the challenges America faces.”