With the general elections fast approaching, vulnerable Senate Republicans are dodging questions about whether they support a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
The Supreme Court said this week it would take up the case, thrusting the issue to the forefront and posing a headache for Republicans in tough races this year.
President Donald Trump supports the lawsuit, which would strike down the entire health law, but ObamaCare’s popularity has risen to a record high, especially after the Coronavirus outbreak, posing a danger for Republicans in seeking to strike it down.
“I’m not saying whether I support it or not, it’s in the hands of the Supreme Court now so we’ll see,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) told The Hill on Thursday. Ernst is up for reelection this year.
The lawsuit threatens coverage for roughly 20 million people and would also take away the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which are particularly popular.
Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who faces a difficult reelection race this fall, said the issue is a “judicial proceeding” so she would not weigh in.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (Ga.), who like McSally was appointed to her seat and will face voters this fall, said to contact her office when asked if she supported the lawsuit.
In a follow-up email, a Loeffler spokeswoman did not directly answer if the senator supports the lawsuit.
“Regardless of what the courts do or do not decide, there is no question Congress needs to address healthcare issues facing Americans,” a Loeffler spokeswoman wrote in the email, saying the senator wants action that “lowers insurance costs” and “expands coverage options.”
Democrats are seizing on the issue, after the party’s strategy of focusing on the House GOP’s efforts to repeal ObamaCare helped it win back the House in 2018.
Stewart Boss, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, called the ACA lawsuit the “single most important issue in Senate battlegrounds across the country.”
The office of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) did not respond to a request for comment on if he supports the lawsuit. Gardner told The Hill in August that the issue is “the court’s decision,” but added: “If the Democrats want to stand for an unconstitutional law, I guess that’s their choice.”
Gardner may be the most endangered Senate Republican facing reelection this year.
Republicans point to Democratic calls for Medicare for All, which would take away private health insurance and replace it with a government plan, in pushing back on Democrats.
But that counterattack is getting more complicated as former Vice President Joe Biden becomes the frontrunner for his party’s presidential nomination. Biden, unlike Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) does not support Medicare for All.