The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a resolution Wednesday calling on the Justice Department to halt its new advocacy for abolishing the Affordable Care Act, a move the measure calls “an unacceptable assault” on Americans’ health care.
The House vote comes amid renewed jockeying over a prominent issue in last year’s midterm elections that President Trump has thrust back into the spotlight with his attempt at a court-ordered end to President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.
The resolution passed 240 to 186, with eight Republicans joining the chamber’s Democrats in rebuking Trump. One Democrat, Rep. Collin C. Peterson (Minn.), broke ranks and voted against the resolution.
With Wednesday’s vote, Democrats were seeking to put Republicans on record as siding with Trump in his attempt to use the courts to overturn the ACA, known as Obamacare, including politically popular provisions that protect people with preexisting conditions and allow individuals to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26.
“Once again, House Republicans have shown that they are full accomplices in President Trump’s campaign to destroy protections for people with preexisting conditions and take away Americans’ health care,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement after the vote.
Wednesday’s vote is likely to be little more than symbolic, however. Leaders of the Republican-led Senate are not expected to take up the measure rebuking Trump, who has pledged to develop an alternative to the ACA.
Lawmakers in both parties were caught off guard by Trump’s abrupt decision last week to direct the Justice Department to intervene in a federal case seeking to eliminate the law.
The nonbinding resolution considered Wednesday directs the Justice Department to reverse its position in a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans that challenges the law’s constitutionality.
Before last week, the Justice Department had argued in a brief that a provision previously struck from the law that imposed a penalty for not buying insurance was legally distinct from other parts in the ACA, which could still stand.
The language of the Democrats’ resolution is pointed in condemning Trump’s action.
“Whereas contrary to President Trump’s public claims that he supports protections for people with preexisting conditions, he has ordered his Department of Justice to actively pursue the destruction of these protections in Federal court,” it says at one point.
The resolution also ticks through numerous negative consequences that Democrats argue would result from invalidating the law, including denying coverage to millions of Americans with preexisting conditions or offering them coverage at “an exorbitant price.”
It also says millions more Americans would lose coverage by the invalidation of a major expansion of Medicaid that was authorized by the ACA.
Trump has said Republicans will produce a superior replacement plan, contending in a tweet on Tuesday that it will be “far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare.”
During a meeting last week with Senate Republicans, Trump called on the GOP to be “the party of health care” and asked for help in writing a new plan.
“Moving forward in Courts and Legislatively!” Trump wrote in a tweet two days later.
Late Monday night, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) advised him that his chamber would not consider such a measure that soon, Trump tweeted that there would not be a vote until shortly after next year’s elections.
Trump predicted that he would still be in office and that both chambers would be controlled by Republicans.
On Wednesday morning, Trump went on Twitter to claim that he had never sought a vote from McConnell before the elections.
“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,” he said.