Democrat Senator: 'We want to rebuild' Obamacare, add 'public option' if we take back Senate

Asked if she supports expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Democrats want to handle the court vacancy situation "one step at a time."

Updated: September 23, 2020 - 11:23pm

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Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee's Health Care Subcommittee, said that Senate Democrats will focus on rebuilding and strengthening Obamacare and add a "public option" to the law if they take back the majority in the Senate.

Stabenow and Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin warned Democratic voters that another conservative justice on the Supreme Court would imperil the future of Obamacare since the California v. Texas case will be decided shortly after the November election takes place.

Stabenow, who opposes a GOP effort to fill the Supreme Court vacancy before the November election, declined to say if she supports expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court.

"As the person, if we're in the majority, who would be chairing the Health Subcommittee of Finance, I will tell you that, certainly a priority along with getting our arms around COVID-19 and the national strategy on COVID-19, we want to rebuild and strengthen the Affordable Care Act, and then move forward with the other initiatives like adding a public option under Medicare and all the other things that will strengthen health care," Stabenow said on a conference call Wednesday with Baldwin, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.

"So we certainly are going to do everything we can to rebuild and strengthen health care for people if we are fortunate enough to be in the majority," she added.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden supports a federally-run public option and opposes the "Medicare-for-all" plan that was a centerpiece of rival Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2020 primary campaign. In 2010, former President Barack Obama and Biden, the former vice president, were not able to push the Affordable Care Act through the Democrat-led House and Senate with a public option that would compete with private insurance plans.

Some polls have shown that most Democrats favor a public option while most Republicans oppose it.

Baldwin said that Democrats want to continue "shining a spotlight" on the implications of letting President Trump fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat versus having "the people vote" on the next president of the United States first.

"Senator Whitehouse has done such a fabulous job of shining this spotlight, so that citizens speak up and speak loudly just as they did leading up to the Senate vote on whether to overturn the Affordable Care Act back in 2017," Baldwin said. "I believe it was the people who helped mightily in defeating that attempt, cynical attempt, to overturn, and the people engaged with us in this fight help our chances of being able to wait until after the election."

Stabenow and Baldwin were asked if they support "stacking the court" in response to the GOP proceeding with the nomination to fill the vacancy.

"I would say we want to take it one step at a time," Stabenow replied. "We're focused on what we need to do right now to be able to get these four Republicans to join us. We're not naive. We know this is tough, but they need to be held accountable." 

Baldwin also did not share her position on expanding the court.

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