Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, vowed Monday to hold oversight hearings “right away” on the Trump administration’s involvement in a court case over the weekend that ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called ObamaCare, was unconstitutional.
Pallone will take over the chairmanship of the panel when Democrats assume the House majority next year. He said they will “get to the bottom” of the administration’s decision not to defend the health-care law against a lawsuit filed by Republican attorneys general.
“The problem is that the Republicans in the House, including the Republicans on my committee, have never had any serious oversight about what the Trump administration is doing to sabotage the [Affordable Care Act],” Pallone, currently the Energy and Commerce Committee’s ranking Democrat and a member of its Health Subcommittee, said in a call with reporters Monday morning.
“This sabotage, which takes form of inaction in the courts, action in the courts, regulations, all kinds of sneaky things. We don’t know what they’re doing. We will have hearings right away to get to the bottom of this and to see what they’re doing and not doing.”
A federal district judge in Texas issued a long-awaited ruling Friday night siding with 20 Republican attorneys general who argue ObamaCare is unconstitutional now that Congress has repealed the law’s individual mandate penalty.
The Trump administration largely declined to defend ObamaCare against the lawsuit, arguing that the protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be struck down.
A group of 17 Democratic-led states defended the law in court after winning the right to do so and say they plan to file an appeal as soon as possible.
House Democrats will also try to intervene in the lawsuit and will vote on a bill to do so “in the next few weeks,” Pallone said.
“We’re not going to let this stand,” Pallone said.
“We’re going to fight this decision tooth and nail in the courts and with the new Democratic majority in the House.”
House Democrats also plan to move legislation to stabilize ObamaCare and protect people with pre-existing conditions “almost immediately.”
Democrats plan to vote on a version of the ACA stabilization actintroduced last year and legislation that reaffirms protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
He said, in light of the court decision, there may be other aspects of the ACA that need reaffirmed and could be added to the bill.
Republicans should be willing to support the legislation, Pallone said, because many said they support protections for people with pre-existing conditions in their campaigns.
“We’re putting them on the line to see if they mean what they say or are just spreading fake news again,” he said.
However, such legislation, which would expand the ACA, is unlikely to pass the Senate or be signed by President Trump.