Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters Thursday that he agrees with Democratic leaders in the House who have threatened to vote against a temporary spending bill—potentially triggering a government shutdown over the weekend—if the House calls a quick vote on their revived bill to kill the Affordable Care Act.
“[Former] Speaker Pelosi is right,” he said. “Instead of rushing through health care, they need to fund the government: plain and simple. Let’s hope they see the light over there in the House.”
Schumer said that “it’s hard to come up with a crueler bill” than the first version of the American Health Care Act, which was scuttled in March due to lack of support, and which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cause 24 million people to lose their health insurance. “But this new Trumpcare manages to do it,” he said.
Pressed on whether Democrats would really trigger a government shutdown over a vote on the health care bill—which Schumer acknowledged would likely die in the Senate anyway–he told reporters that if such a shutdown occurred, the GOP would bear the blame.
“We have done everything we can to get something passed,” he said. “Republicans control the House and the Senate and the White House. If there’s a shutdown, they will own it, and they know that.”
Schumer noted, as many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have told TPM, that despite President Trump’s bluster and volleys of threats, negotiations between the parties have been largely peaceful and constructive. On Wednesday, after the White House seemed to back down on threats to strip away subsidies to health insurers and demands for border funding, there was widespread optimism about a bipartisan deal.
“Once the wall was taken out and the cost sharing was taken out, there was real progress,” Schumer said. “I give Leader McConnell real credit. He wanted to get this done. Unfortunately, the president is now standing in the way.”