Dec 16, 2018, 11:36 AM ET

Sen. Dick Durbin: Obamacare ruling ‘once again puts Republicans in Washington on the spot’


Just days after a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, the Senate minority whip said Sunday the ruling is bad news for Republicans in Congress.

"It once again puts Republicans in Washington on the spot," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday. "If you're going to take away the Affordable Care Act, how will you protect the millions of people currently using it for health insurance for their family?"

PHOTO: Sen. Dick Durbin speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Aug. 28, 2018.J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Sen. Dick Durbin speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Aug. 28, 2018.

Judge Reed O'Connor, appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in 2007 by former President George W. Bush, ruled that the individual mandate is illegal and therefore the entire law is unconstitutional. He did not issue an injunction, however, and the law remains in place pending appeal.

President Donald Trump tweeted twice late Friday that the ruling, which throws the health care of millions covered under the law into flux, is "Great news for America!" and said that “Mitch and Nancy” need to "get it done," suggesting that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and incoming House speaker Nancy Pelosi pass new health care legislation.

Former President Barack Obama posted messages on social media encouraging Americans to enroll by Sunday's open enrollment deadline, despite the ruling.

"You might have heard about a federal court decision on a Republican lawsuit trying to strike down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety," Obama wrote on Facebook and then shared on Twitter. "That can be a scary thing to hear, particularly if you or someone you care about has a pre-existing condition. And that’s why it’s so important for you to know that last night’s ruling changes nothing for now. As this decision makes its way through the courts, which will take months, if not years, the law remains in place and will likely stay that way."

PHOTO: President Barack Obama is applauded after signing the Affordable Care Act into law in the East Room of the White House on March 23, 2010. Charles Dharapak/AP, FILE
President Barack Obama is applauded after signing the Affordable Care Act into law in the East Room of the White House on March 23, 2010.

Durbin said that Democrats would be "happy" to sit down and talk about new health care legislation, but that "you have to look at the history," which is that the "president for two years has done everything in his power to put an end to the protections included."

Republicans in Congress are already facing a precarious political fight over government funding, which will expire on Dec. 21. Trump said last week that he would be "proud" to shut down the government over border wall funding.

Durbin said that the shutdown is "entirely in the hands of President Donald Trump, who bragged last week that this was his decision."

He added that Congress should be looking at other border issues and that a wall would do "virtually nothing" to stem drug trafficking, namely the influx of fentanyl. Durbin cited a Centers for Disease Control report released on Wednesday that said fentanyl has become the drug most associated with overdoses in the U.S.

"We could be scanning vehicles coming into the United States to see if they contain contraband, narcotics, firearms, even victims of human trafficking," he said.

He also said Democrats are trying to give the Department of Homeland Security what they need, including putting $1.3 billion on the table for "barriers," though he noted that the "barriers" are defined in such a way "so we aren’t building some medieval wall."

The Trump administration has asked for $5 billion in funding to construct a border wall, and Trump has continued threats to close the government just as investigations into his associates heated up.

News - Sen. Dick Durbin: Obamacare ruling ‘once again puts Republicans in Washington on the spot’

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  • Nick

    Here's a fun game to play. Ask a red-state bible thumper what they don't like about the affordable care act and why it should be repealed.

    The results are quite disturbing.

  • Ron Hedman

    Another nail in the Republican coffin.

  • SJC

    Republicans tried to kill preexisting condition coverage, there is NO denying that.

  • Pro-Marx

    Trump wants to build a wall....between you and any kind of reasonable health care.

  • Ronny Demeyere

    Unbelievable, France is a democratic country and the citizen who does not agree with the cost increase has come to the streets in order to change the government decision. America who claims to be a democracy there is not the citizen who comes on the street but the government and the president who threaten to close the administration because he does not want to pay his administration employees their wages. He wants to do this because the people's representation in the congress does not agree with the gigantic expenses of which they do not see the point. That is the reverse democracy of this in France. It is up to you to decide who applies democracy here.

  • Bud Simpson

    The GOP could care less about providing American's with affordable health insurance and they've proved it over and over.

    First they lied when they said they'd be working on a new and better health plan, right after the ACA was passed.

    That was a lie.

    When Trump was running and thought he was going to lose, he told everyone they all but had a better plan completed.

    That was a lie.

    They then had a GOP majority in both the Senate and the House and a Republican President and what did they do?


    Oh, they promised they'd do something, but it died on the vine and they never returned to it, so anyone that thinks there is going to be some GOP epiphany over health care...they are sadly mistaken.

  • ogrot

    Republicans are kind of like the dog that caught the car on this one. They have nothing they can do with it now that they've gotten it, and now they are surrounded by a lot of angry passengers.

  • Doughboy

    If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.

  • kaymichigan1

    Trump is out there claiming that now "we're gonna have great health insurance".

    Forgive me if I fail to believe this since he campaigned on the idea that he had a fantastic plan all lined up, but when it was time to put it out there he had NOTHING. And eventually the only plan they could throw together was SO horrible that not one single medical authority endorsed it. Not ONE.

    So this time around, yeah, more lies. You got a better plan, Donald? Let's see it.

  • neophyte

    I like how Republicans run around like peacocks strutting their feathers about how bad ACA is and how they are going to "repeal this bad law". Then when they actually get the chance to do something about ACA they reveal themselves as spineless slugs.

  • Sam

    I don't think it is the Repub's that were put on the spot. Who in just a few days will rule the house. :) They may be put on the spot. It will be up to the Dem's to do something about it.


    Republicans are doing their best to turn this country into scores of poor people ruled by a few oligarchs.

  • Bluejay

    After screaming "Repeal and replace" for 7 years and voting to repeal it about 80 times in the House under Obama,
    the GOP will once again prove they don't have a clue how to govern and get anything done.

    And their failure could result in the death of thousand.

    No wonder Trump is happy! He's an idiot!