While the remnants of last week’s presidential election are still what is dominating the political headlines, there is a lot more going on in Washington, DC as the nation goes about its business. Here is a look at the biggest stories in and around the capital.
Supreme Court Hears ACA Arguments: The big news on Capitol Hill on Tuesday was the much-anticipated Supreme Court hearing of a case regarding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This marks the third time that the highest court in the land has heard a case relating to the ACA. This current case positions California and many of its blue state counterparts up against Texas and the like-minded red states.Read More »
Although the court heard the case on Tuesday, it should be noted that it will be weeks or months before a decision is rendered. While most Republican leaders were optimistic that the third time would be the charm in overturning the ACA, the court struck a different tone during the hearing.
Following the recent confirmation of the right-leaning Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the conservatives enjoy a 6-3 advantage in the court. Because of this, it is no surprise that the Democrats were worried that the legislation would be overturned, resulting in over 20 million Americans losing their health care insurance. Equally devastating would be the loss of the protection for individuals with preexisting conditions as well as children under the age of 26 still under the coverage of their parents.
Despite the worry from the Democratic camp, the initial remarks from Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh painted a more promising picture of the survival of the ACA. Both of these justices indicated through the line of questioning that they may be more likely to simply deem certain provisions of the ACA unconstitutional rather than laying down a mandate to strike down the entirety of the legislation.
As expected, President Trump and President-elect Joe Biden are siding with their parties on the desired outcome of the case. Biden addressed the issue at his Tuesday press conference, being clear in his support for the ACA. Remember that Biden was in office as Obama’s right-hand man when the legislation was created and put into law.
Conversely, Trump and his team have thrown their support behind Texas. However, they have indicated recently that should the court decide that the legislation is unlawful, their decision should only apply to the 18 conservative states bringing the case to the court. This leaves a bit of wiggle room as the justices ponder their decision.
Key Republicans Refuse to Acknowledge Biden’s Victory: Several of the key senior Republicans are siding with the president on his refusal to officially concede the election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell addressed some members of Congress on Monday saying that Trump is acting within his rights to try to make his case in court and go after the allegations of voter fraud. In addition, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has also told Trump to not concede the election at this moment.
While the opinions of these lawmakers do not account for much in the legal sense, the more pressing issue for the Biden team is the refusal of the General Services Administration (GSA) administrator Emily W. Murphy to sign off on the documents to initiate the transition process. By holding this document hostage, the GSA prevents Biden and his staff from being able to access the funds needed to help in the transition process.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Hints at Second Trump Term: Leading the pack of Republican dissenters is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The Trump ally addressed the media at the State Department on Tuesday, stating that there will be a smooth transition when Trump begins his second term in office. Despite some of the biggest world political leaders calling Biden to congratulate him on the victory, Pompeo’s department is still holding to the assertion that Trump will remain in the Oval Office when all of the votes are counted. Pompeo used the microphone to state his belief that the Constitution explicitly outlines the voting procedure, asserting that Trump will come out on top at the end of the process.
Biden’s Reaction to Republicans Digging in Heels: During his Tuesday press briefing, Biden was asked by a reporter about the refusal of Trump’s team to accept the results of the election. Biden continued to project confidence about his transition team efforts, saying that Trump and his administration will not be able to hinder their efforts to move forward with the business of the country.
Biden referred to the president’s refusal to concede the election as “an embarrassment.” During his remarks, he repeatedly reassured the public that this unusual dynamic between him and the outgoing president will not impede his ability to build his transition team to be ready to take over on January 20 when he takes the oath of office.
First Lady Also Mum on Transition: Trump is not the only one in the White House dragging their heels on moving forward with the transition. It is being reported that First lady Melania Trump has not yet reached out to Dr. Jill Biden to invite her to the White House, as is tradition after the election. It was exactly four years ago today that the Obamas invited the Trumps to visit the White House.
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