Senate Democrats today fought back against attacks on President Barack Obama’s health care law, insisting the Supreme Court would uphold the legislation while attempting to tie Republicans to the most controversial element: the mandate to purchase insurance.
As day two of oral arguments concluded, Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) recited for reporters the history of conservatives and Republicans supporting the policy of having the government require individuals to purchase health insurance. And a few of his colleagues who attended today’s hearing said the questions posed by the justices left them encouraged that the mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act would be found constitutional.
“What we’re seeing now is baffling. The Republicans were the fathers of the individual mandate, and now they want to give it up for adoption,” Schumer said during a noon Capitol Hill news conference.
“I am convinced after listening for two hours this morning that this court can go no other way than to uphold the individual mandate,” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) added.
Senate Republicans and a trio of GOP state attorneys general who spoke to reporters immediately following disagreed, citing the questions posed by swing Justice Anthony Kennedy as proof that the case was likely to go their way. Should the Supreme Court ultimately uphold the Affordable Care Act, the Republican Senators vowed to push for the repeal of the law anyway.
“It’s still a bad idea,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, reiterating that a repeal bill would be the first order of business next year if Republicans win the Senate and he becomes the Majority Leader.
“Obamacare has been a disaster for America,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) added.
The Republican attorneys general who attended today’s oral arguments whole-heartedly disagreed with Democratic claims that the Supreme Court was likely to uphold the law.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who is running for Senate; and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson also predicted the individual mandate would be thrown out as unconsititutional.
“We feel very confident,” Bondi said.
“I feel a lot better after witnessing two hours of argument than when I started,” Bruning added.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.