GOP Sens Cautious On O’Care Ruling, Schumer Calls For Intervention Vote

The Washington Post/The Washington Post

After a federal judge said Friday that the Affordable Care Act was invalid given the vote by Republicans in Congress earlier this year to effectively repeal the law’s individual mandate, several of those Republicans were hesitant to celebrate the ruling on Sunday. Across the aisle, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urged Congress to vote to intervene on the side the ACA.

In an appearance on “Meet the Press,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) — who like every Republican senator voted for the tax bill that stripped away Obamacare’s penalty for qualified individuals who didn’t buy health insurance — emphasized that District Judge Reed O’Connor’s decision wouldn’t take effect immediately.

“It said if the mandate goes away, then other things go away,” Barrasso said, characterizing O’Connor’s decision.

“As a doctor, people say to me, ‘What does this mean to me?’ And for right now, very little,” he continued. “If you’re getting treatment, if you have a preexisting condition, if you signed up for Obamacare on this recent sign-up period, it doesn’t change a thing.”

Any Supreme Court decision on O’Connor’s ruling, Barrasso stressed, “may be several years” away.

In a separate interview Sunday with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), CNN’s Jake Tapper asked whether the senator agreed with President Donald Trump, who called O’Connor’s ruling “great.”

“I don’t,” Collins responded, quickly adding: “First of all, I would point out that this ruling is not going to affect people who are currently enrolled or in Obamacare policies, or their policies for 2019.”

She said later: “There’s no reason why the individual mandate provision can’t be struck down, and keep all of the good provisions of the Affordable Care Act.”

Schumer, on the other hand, joined his fellow Democrats Sunday in bashing O’Connor’s ruling, calling it “an awful ruling” and calling on Congress to vote to intervene in the case on the side of Obamacare, alongside several Democratic attorneys general who will appeal the ruling.

“The first thing we’re going to do when we get back there, in the Senate, is put a vote on the floor urging an intervention in the case.” he said in an interview on “Meet the Press.” “A lot of this depends on congressional intent, and if a majority of the House and a majority of the Senate say that this case should be overturned, it will have a tremendous effect on the appeal. So our first stop is the courts.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who followed Schumer on “Meet the Press,” said a congressional vote to intervene in the case is “not what we ought to be doing this week.”

But like other Republicans giving interviews Sunday, he was lukewarm on O’Connor’s ruling.

“The thing to remember about the judge’s ruling is it has no immediate impact,” he said. “Nothing changes yesterday, nothing changes tomorrow. This will have to go through a circuit court process. Who knows if the circuit court would uphold it or not. That will either be quickly dismissed, which is one option, or a long period of time, in my view, before the circuit court deals with it.” 

Asked about the President’s tweet, Blunt wouldn’t say whether he agreed with it.

The ruling, he said, means “we’re going to continue to debate this.”

“Health care clearly matters to people,” he added.

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