WASHINGTON (CN) – In a largely symbolic vote Wednesday, House Democrats condemned the Trump administration for waging legal war on the federal health care law.
The resolution passed 240-186, largely along party lines, and takes aim at the recent decision by the Justice Department to fight the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
After Republicans used their 2017 tax overhaul to repeal a provision of the health care law that required most Americans to obtain individual insurance, Texas filed a lawsuit claiming that insurance companies can’t be required to provide essential health benefits without the individual mandate.
A federal judge agreed and declared the law unconstitutional. An appeal of that ruling is now before the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, but the case is expected to eventually go to the Supreme Court.
The Democratic resolution that passed Wednesday asks the Justice Department to reverse its position on the case and otherwise cease efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act.
Eight Republicans supported the resolution and one Republican voted “present.”
During debate on the resolution Tuesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy bemoaned the measure and blasted Democrats for putting forth what he said amounts to “a press release.”
“If you were serious about your words, if you believe you care and are concerned about a court case – because maybe you wrote a bill that isn’t constitutional – you could have solved it today,” said McCarthy, a Republican from California.
McCarthy said they would put a bill on the floor if Democrats truly want to protect health care.
“It is a shame that we’re trying to put a resolution on the floor,” McCarthy said.
At a press conference Tuesday morning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her colleagues need to show their hands on health care.
“The American people deserve to know exactly where their representatives stand on the Trump administration’s vicious campaign to take away their health care,” said Pelosi, a California Democrat.
According to the think tank the Urban Institute, nearly 20 million people would become uninsured if the courts invalidate the Affordable Care Act.
Such estimates have done little, however, to make the law palatable to President Donald Trump.
In a series of tweets late Monday, the president called the Affordable Care Act “really bad” health care.
Last week the president suggested Republicans have a replacement plan should the Supreme Court rule that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.
Though he has yet to provide any details about the plan, his Monday tweets said Republicans are working on “a really great” health care plan that will lower costs and “will work for America.”
Trump then walked back any impression that Republicans had a plan ready to put forward, saying Monday any vote on the unknown plan will happen after the 2020 election.
“Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House,” Trump tweeted.
On Wednesday Trump signaled that health care could factor heavily into the election, and insisted he never planned a vote before the election.
“I was never planning a vote prior to the 2020 Election on the wonderful HealthCare package that some very talented people are now developing for me & the Republican Party,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “It will be on full display during the Election as a much better & less expensive alternative to ObamaCare.”
Trump brought health care to the fore last week, dubbing Republicans the “party of health care” and insisting that any plan they put forward will protect pre-existing conditions.
The rebranding came on the heels of the Justice Department’s decision to stop defending the Affordable Care Act.
House Democrats meanwhile have put forth a bill, which they unveiled last week, that would bolster protections for those with pre-existing conditions, lower insurance premiums and curtail the availability of what they call “junk” insurance plans, which don’t meet federal standards.