Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), up for re-election in 2020, is making known via a letter her disdain for the Justice Department’s new, aggressively anti-Obamacare stance in a high-profile lawsuit.
“Rather than seeking to have the courts invalidate the ACA, the proper route for the Administration to pursue would be to propose changes to the ACA or to once again seek its repeal,” Collins said in a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr Monday. “The Administration should not attempt to use the courts to bypass Congress.”
Collins has for days, since the administration’s changed its posture in the lawsuit, talked about sending the letter protesting the DOJ move, which signaled it would ask an appellate court to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act.
She sent a similar letter to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, when the Justice Department was just seeking to have parts of the law struck down. It’s not clear whether she’ll take any other steps to pressure the administration into backing down.
The lawsuit is one brought by Texas and a host of other Republican states seeking to nix the entirety of the Affordable Care Act on the basis that Congress with its 2017 tax legislation got rid of its individual mandate. Previously, the Trump administration was seeking that just the Obamacare pre-existing conditions protections be struck down, a stance Collins also opposed. Last Monday, a court filing indicated that the Justice Department would now be adopting the position that the whole law would need to go, which is how a far-right federal judge ruled in a decision the judge paused for the case’s appeal.
Collins’ letter said that she wished to express her “profound disagreement” with the administration’s refusal to defend any part of the law.
“If Congress had intended to eliminate these consumer protections along with the individual mandate, it could have done so. It chose not to,” Collins said.
The Justice Department’s move — reportedly driven by the White House officials’ desire to put a health care overhaul on the front burner after the disastrous 2017 repeal effort — took Congress completely by surprise.
It is also a move Barr reportedly didn’t favor, but ultimately went along with, giving Hill Democrats more ammo to criticize his handling of this and other contentious DOJ issues, such as the Russia probe report.
Read the full letter, via Politico, below: