October 12, 2020

Harris: Republicans Are Rushing Confirmation to Strike Down Affordable Care Act

Full Video of Harris’ Statement

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Monday participated in the hearing to consider the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States. Senator Harris spoke out against Senate Republicans’ attempt to jam through a nominee who will take away healthcare from millions of Americans— all while our nation is in the midst of a deadly pandemic.

In her statement, Harris highlighted that the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the rights she fought to protect are at stake with Judge Barrett’s nomination. Harris demanded the committee wait to confirm a new Supreme Court justice until after the American people—who are currently voting—have the chance to decide who they want in the White House.

Key Excerpts:

  • This hearing has brought together more than 50 people to sit inside of a closed door room for hours while our nation is facing a deadly airborne virus. This committee has ignored commonsense requests to keep people safe.
  • Senate Republicans have made it crystal clear that rushing a Supreme Court nomination is more important than helping and supporting the American people who are suffering from a deadly pandemic and a devastating economic crisis.
  • A clear majority of Americans want whomever wins this election to fill this seat. And my Republican colleagues know that. Yet they are deliberately defying the will of the people in their attempt to roll back the rights and protections provided under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Republicans finally realized the Affordable Care Act is too popular to repeal in Congress, so now they are trying to bypass the will of voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work.
  • By replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone who will undo her legacy, President Trump is attempting to roll back Americans’ rights for decades to come.
  • Every American must understand that with this nomination, equal justice under law is at stake. Our voting rights are at stake. Workers’ rights are at stake. Consumer rights are at stake. The right to safe and legal abortion is at stake. Holding corporations accountable is at stake. And again there is so much more.
  • I believe we must listen to our constituents and protect their access to health care, and wait to confirm a new Supreme Court justice until after Americans decide who they want in the White House.

A full transcript of Harris’ statement, as delivered:

HARRIS: Thank you Mr. Chairman. This hearing has brought together more than 50 people to sit inside of a closed door room for hours while our nation is facing a deadly airborne virus.

This committee has ignored commonsense requests to keep people safe – including not requiring testing for all members – despite a coronavirus outbreak among senators of this very committee.

By contrast, in response to this recent Senate outbreak, the leaders of Senate Republicans rightly postponed business on the Senate floor this week to protect the health and safety of senators and staff. Mr. Chairman, for the same reasons, this hearing should have been postponed.

The decision to hold this hearing now is reckless and places facilities workers, janitorial staff, and congressional aides, and Capitol Police at risk.

Not to mention, that while tens of millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills, the Senate should be prioritizing coronavirus relief and providing financial support to those families.

The American people need to have help to make rent or their mortgage payment. We should provide financial assistance to those who have lost their job, and help parents put food on the table.

Small businesses need help. As do the cities, towns, and hospitals that this crisis has pushed to the brink.

The House bill would help families and small businesses get through this crisis, but Senate Republicans have not lifted a finger for 150 days, which is how long that bill has been here in the Senate, to move the bill. Yet this committee is determined to rush a Supreme Court confirmation hearing through in just 16 days.

Senate Republicans have made it crystal clear that rushing a Supreme Court nomination is more important than helping and supporting the American people who are suffering from a deadly pandemic and a devastating economic crisis.

Their priorities are not the American people’s priorities. But for the moment, Senate Republicans hold the majority in the Senate and determine the schedule, so here we are.

The Constitution of the United States entrusts the Senate with the solemn duty to carefully consider nominations for lifetime appointments to the United States Supreme Court.

Yet the Senate majority is rushing this process and jamming President Trump’s nominee through the Senate while people are actually voting. Just 22 days before the end of the election.

More than 9 million Americans have already voted and millions more will vote while this illegitimate committee process is underway.

A clear majority of Americans want whomever wins this election to fill this seat. And my Republican colleagues know that.

Yet they are deliberately defying the will of the people in their attempt to roll back the rights and protections provided under the Affordable Care Act.

And let’s remember: In 2017, President Trump and Congressional Republicans repeatedly tried to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, but remember people from all walks of life spoke out and demanded Republicans stop trying to take away the American peoples health care.

Republicans finally realized the Affordable Care Act is too popular to repeal in Congress, so now they are trying to bypass the will of voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work.

That’s why President Trump promised to only nominate judges who will get rid of the Affordable Care Act.

This administration, with the support of Senate Republicans, will be in front of the Supreme Court on November 10th to argue that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down.

That’s in 29 days that that’ll happen.

That’s a big reason why Senate Republicans are rushing this process. 

They are trying to get a justice onto the Court in time to ensure they can strip away the protections of the Affordable Care Act.

And if they succeed, it will result in millions of people losing access to health care at the worst possible time in the middle of a pandemic.

23 million Americans could lose their health insurance altogether.

If they succeed, they will eliminate protections for 135 million Americans with preexisting conditions like diabetes and asthma, heart disease or cancer.

A list that now will include over 7 million Americans who have contracted COVID-19.

Insurance companies could deny you coverage, or could sell you a plan that won’t pay a dime toward treating anything related to your preexisting condition.

If the Affordable Care Act is struck down, you will have to once again pay for things like mammograms and cancer screenings, and birth control.

Seniors will pay more for prescription drugs.

And young adults will be kicked off their parents’ plans.

And these are not abstract issues.

We need to be clear about how overturning of the ACA will impact the people we all represent.

For example, Myka, who is eleven years old and she lives in Southern California.

So Myka enjoys being a Girl Scout and ice-skating and reading, eating pasta, and baking.

Her mother says the only reason Myka is able to live her life as she does now is because the Affordable Care Act guarantees that her health insurance cannot deny her coverage or limit her care because it’s too expensive.

You see, Myka has a Congenital heart defect.

She goes to multiple specialists throughout the year and gets an MRI with anesthesia every six months.

At just eleven months old, Myka’s family had already hit $50,000 in medical expenses.

And her biannual MRI costs $15,000 a session.

And so correction: by 11 months old her family had already hit $500,000 in medical expenses.

If Republicans succeed in striking down the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will be able to deny coverage to children with serious conditions.

Children like Myka.

And parents, well, they’ll be on their own.

No one should face financial ruin to get their child, their spouse, or their parent the care they need.

And no family should be kept from seeing a doctor or getting treatment because an insurance company says the treatment is too expensive.

In America, access to health care should not be determined based on how much money you have.

Health care and access to health care should be a right.

Myka and millions of others who are protected by the Affordable Care Act know this is fundamentally what is at stake with this Supreme Court nomination. 

And of course there’s more at stake.

Throughout our history, Americans have brought cases to the United Sates Supreme Court in the ongoing fight for civil rights, human rights, and equal justice.

Decisions like Brown v. Board of Education, which opened up educational opportunities for Black boys and girls, Roe v. Wade, which recognized a woman’s right to control her body. Loving v. Virginia and Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized that love is love, and that marriage equality is the law of the land.

The United States Supreme Court is often the last refuge for equal justice when our constitutional rights are being violated.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg devoted her life to this fight for equal justice. And she defended the constitution. She advocated for human rights and equality.

She stood up for the rights of women. She protected workers. She fought for the rights of consumers against big corporations. She supported LGBTQ rights. And she did so much more.

But now, her legacy and the rights she fought so hard to protect are in jeopardy.

By replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone who will undo her legacy, President Trump is attempting to roll back Americans’ rights for decades to come.

Every American must understand that with this nomination, equal justice under law is at stake. Our voting rights are at stake. Workers’ rights are at stake. Consumer rights are at stake. The right to a safe and legal abortion is at stake. And holding corporations accountable is at stake. And again there is so much more.

So Mr. Chairman, I do believe this hearing is a clear attempt to jam through a Supreme Court nominee who will take health care away from millions people during a deadly pandemic that has already killed more than 214,000 Americans.

I believe we must listen to our constituents and protect their access to health care, and wait to confirm a new Supreme Court justice until after Americans decide who they want in the White House.

Thank you.

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