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Senate Wyden: Concerned about who will replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Senator Ron Wyden
D-Oregon

Wyden Statement on Senate Floor on the Impacts of a Trump Supreme Court Nominee on Health Care

Madam President, this weekend brought tragic news with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Not a lot of members of the federal judiciary become cultural icons recognizable by only their initials. RBG did, and she earned her recognition and her place in history through an astonishing career fighting for gender equality, for the rights of LGBTQ-plus individuals, for the rights of all those who are pushed to the margins of American society. I’ve heard from a lot of Oregonians who are fearful about what her passing means for their futures,

Leader McConnell and Donald Trump have made it clear that they’re pulling out all the stops to put another far-right Republican on the highest court in the land – breaking their own rule pertaining to election-year appointments. It just goes to show how Trump and Senate Republicans have corrupted the judiciary, no matter the cost to this country.

So, now it’s down to only a few weeks before the election. It goes without saying that the future of the Court will affect just about every aspect of Americans’ lives. My colleagues have talked about a lot of those issues – the list is miles long, from the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans, to workers’ rights, to the ability of every eligible American to vote and much, much more.

However, there is one issue that will come up immediately with a Trump-backed lawsuit going before the Court soon after the election. That issue is health care.

Make no mistake about it, colleagues. Health care in America is on the line. The Affordable Care Act is on the line. Coverage for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions is on the line.

If you don’t trust Republicans with your health care, you cannot trust Republicans with this Supreme Court seat.

Donald Trump and his Justice Department are suing to have the entire Affordable Care Act thrown out – every last bit of it.

The ironclad, guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions – gone. Bans on discrimination against women – gone. The ban on annual and lifetime limits – gone. Coverage for young people on their parents’ plans – gone. Guaranteed, essential benefits for all with coverage – gone. No-cost contraceptives for women – gone. Cheaper prescription drugs for seniors on Medicare – gone. Medicaid coverage for millions and millions of Americans – gone.

That’s the Trump agenda on the Affordable Care Act – ripping it out by the roots, no matter how much pain it inflicts on the American people. It’d be directly back to the dark days when health care in America was reserved for the healthy and the wealthy, because those are the people Donald Trump fights for as president.

In 2017, the president tried and failed to get the Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, so now he’s trying to do it at the Supreme Court. The case Trump’s DOJ is bringing to the Court, along with dozens of Republican state Attorneys General, is legal nonsense. But that might not matter to far-right activist judges who would seize this opportunity to hand a big victory to insurance companies, drug makers and other special interests at the expense of individual people.

Particularly after Justice Ginsburg’s passing, there’s a real chance that the Supreme Court hands down a partisan ruling, giving the president the victory he wants over the ACA. If Donald Trump gets to choose the person who takes the Ginsburg seat, the Affordable Care Act is gone, and the Republican health care agenda is coming.

Donald Trump might tell you different. But the American people know he doesn’t often tell the truth about health care – or much of anything.

Once in a while, however, the truth comes out. That’s what happened one day back in May, the last day when he had the opportunity to pull out of this anti-ACA lawsuit before the Supreme Court. The president was asked whether he might have a last minute change of heart, but he made his goal perfectly clear: “We want to terminate health care under Obamacare,” he said.

Remember, this was in May. Hospitals in COVID-19 hot spots around the country were full of Americans who were dying alone amid a global pandemic that had shut the country down. Not even a nationwide public health disaster caused him to reconsider his position on the ACA.

If Trump wins this Supreme Court case, having had the coronavirus will be a pre-existing condition. Insurance companies will use it to discriminate against you.

Now, it goes without saying that the Trump agenda would leave our health care system in ruins.

Donald Trump has fraudulently promised a new, comprehensive health care plan more times than he can count. But it’s all a fraud because all that his administration has done – since day one – is make health care worse and more expensive for Americans.

Even Medicare is headed for crisis because of Donald Trump and his incompetent administration. He knew the coronavirus was a highly contagious and lethal pandemic, but he denied it for weeks and weeks while the virus quietly spread nationwide. When the pandemic eventually exploded, the economy shut down, and that has been devastating to Medicare’s finances.

The Medicare trust fund will be insolvent within 4 years – during the next presidential term. Whoever wins this election is going to be in charge during the biggest crisis Medicare has ever faced. If Donald Trump is in charge, it will be the end of the Medicare guarantee of defined, secure and high-quality health benefits for American seniors. Older Americans may have to figure out some other way to pay for their health care and their prescription drug bill.

The bottom line is that wiping out guaranteed health care is what the Trump agenda is all about.

They’ve gutted the Affordable Care Act through regulations. They brought back junk insurance and set scammers loose on the American public. They cut access to women’s health care. If he fills the Ginsburg seat and has the Supreme Court totally on his side, then you can bet that the courts will side against typical Americans and for special interests with every opportunity.

Women’s health care, particularly reproductive health care, is right at the center of this debate about the future of the Ginsburg Seat. Republican lawmakers have long been fighting to throw away more than 45 years of settled law on this issue. They’ve been fighting to go against the majority opinion of the American people and overturn Roe v. Wade, denying a woman’s right to access the health care she needs.

Even today, just a few hours ago, Senate Republicans dusted off a decades-old, anti-science battle against a safe and mainstream reproductive health medication formerly known as RU486.

The bill they proposed – and which Democrats blocked – comes down to a backdoor ban on safe and legal medications for reproductive health care. Major new regulations that restrict women’s access to essential, time-sensitive medications – putting the government right in between women and their doctors.

This is wrong. It was wrong back when Republicans were waging this same ideological battle 30 years ago.

The fact is, when you take away women’s reproductive health care choices, more women die. That is a fact.

Colleagues, what sense does it make to bring this anti-science, anti-women health proposal forward in the middle of a raging pandemic? Today the U.S. crossed a terrible milestone: 200,000 American lives lost to COVID-19. Amid all that mass death and suffering, Republicans aren’t working across the aisle to close PPE shortages or expand access to care. They are still waging this endless campaign against women’s health care.

With the passing of Justice Ginsburg, that campaign is now reaching a new stage. In my view it’s not just a question of what happens to Roe v. Wade or access to mifepristone. It’s about a much bigger and more dangerous proposition: government control over women’s bodies.

Donald Trump and the Republican Party are working toward government control over women’s bodies. And that also means government control over women’s futures, their health and safety and their individual freedoms. That’s what’s at stake in this fight. That’s what Justice Ginsburg fought so hard for.

Justice Ginsburg leaves behind a legacy of fighting on the side of fairness and equality in so many legal debates. She’s a hero and an American icon to countless millions who want to live in a country of expanding opportunity that recognizes the dignity and humanity in all its people.

There’s a fight coming here in the Senate, and there is a nationwide election just a few weeks away. In my view, the most immediate, five-alarm, DEFCON One issue is health care, health care, health care.

And as I said at the outset, if you don’t trust Republicans with your health care, you cannot trust Republicans with this election or this Supreme Court seat.

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