Kamala Harris blasts Senate GOP for holding indoor hearing for Supreme Court nominee

Republicans trying to "have the Supreme Court do their dirty work," the Democrat vice-presidential nominee said via remote connection from her Senate office.

Updated: October 12, 2020 - 6:32pm

The confirmation hearing for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett got underway on Monday, but Sen. Kamala Harris didn't show up.

The Democratic vice presidential candidate, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, decided to beam in from a remote location and blasted Republicans for holding the hearing indoors.

"This hearing has brought together more than 50 people to sit inside of a closed-door room for hours, while our nation is facing a deadly airborne virus," the California Democrat said. "This committee has ignored common sense requests to keep people safe, including not requiring testing for all members, despite a coronavirus outbreak among senators of this very committee."

"This hearing should have been postponed," Harris said. "The decision to hold this hearing now is reckless and places facilities workers, janitorial staff and congressional aides and Capitol police at risk."

Harris proceeded to toe the Democratic line, sticking to the talking point to target Barrett over the Affordable Care Act  — commonly known as the ACA or Obamacare. Harris and others alleged that Barrett, a 48-year-old mother of seven, and Republicans will seek to overturn the Obama-era law if she wins confirmation to the nation's highest court.

"They are deliberately defying the will of the people in their attempt to roll back the rights and protections provided under the Affordable Care Act," Harris said. "And let's remember: In 2017, President Trump and Congressional Republicans repeatedly tried to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, but people from all walks of life spoke out and demanded Republicans stop trying to take away Americans' health care."

"Republicans finally realized the ACA is too popular to repeal in Congress, so now they are trying to bypass the will of voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work," Harris also charged. "That's why President Trump promised to only nominate judges who will get rid of the Affordable Care Act."

Harris went on to say more than nine million Americans have already cast ballots in the presidential election and that "millions more will vote while this illegitimate committee process is underway."

"A clear majority of Americans want whomever wins this election to fill this seat," she said. "And my Republican colleagues know that. Yet they are deliberately defying the will of the people in their attempt to roll back the rights and protections provided under the Affordable Care Act."

Unlike many other Democrats, Harris directly referenced Roe v. Wade, the 1971 landmark decision that deemed abortion a constitutional right.

"The right to safe and legal abortion is at stake," she said.

Read Harris' remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. Chairman, this hearing has brought together more than 50 people to sit inside a room for hours while our nation faces a deadly airborne virus.

This committee has ignored common sense requests to keep people safe — including not requiring testing for all members — despite a coronavirus outbreak among senators of this very committee.

By contrast, in response to this recent Senate outbreak, the leader of Senate Republicans rightly postponed business on the Senate floor this week to protect the health and safety of senators and staff.

For the same reasons, this hearing should have been postponed.

The decision to hold this hearing now is reckless and places facilities workers, janitorial staff, congressional aides, and Capitol Police at risk.

Not to mention, that while tens of millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills, the Senate should be prioritizing coronavirus relief and providing financial support.

The American people need help to make their rent or mortgage payments. We should provide financial assistance to those who lost their job, and help parents put food on the table.

Small businesses need help. As do the cities, towns, and hospitals that this crisis has pushed to the brink.

The House bill would help families and small businesses get through this crisis, but Senate Republicans have not lifted a finger for 150 days to move that bill.

Yet you are determined to rush a Supreme Court confirmation hearing through in just 16 days.

Senate Republicans have made it crystal clear that rushing a Supreme Court nomination is more important than helping and supporting the American people who are suffering from a deadly pandemic and economic crisis.

Their priorities are not the American people's priorities. But, for the moment, Senate Republicans hold the majority in the Senate and determine the schedule, so here we are.

The Constitution entrusts the Senate with the solemn duty to carefully consider nominations for lifetime appointments to the United States Supreme Court.

Yet the Senate majority is rushing this process and jamming President Trump's nominee through the Senate while people are actually voting.

Just 22 days before the end of the election.

More than nine million Americans have already cast ballots and millions more will vote while this illegitimate committee process is underway.

A clear majority of Americans want whomever wins this election to fill this seat. And my Republican colleagues know that.

Yet they are deliberately defying the will of the people in their attempt to roll back the rights and protections provided under the Affordable Care Act.

And let's remember: In 2017, President Trump and Congressional Republicans repeatedly tried to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, but people from all walks of life spoke out and demanded Republicans stop trying to take away Americans' health care.

Republicans finally realized the ACA is too popular to repeal in Congress, so now they are trying to bypass the will of voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work.

That's why President Trump promised to only nominate judges who will get rid of the Affordable Care Act.

This administration, with the support of Senate Republicans, will be in front of the Supreme Court on November 10th to argue that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down.

That's just 29 days away.

That's a big reason why Senate Republicans are rushing this process.

They are trying to get a justice onto the Court in time to ensure they can strip away the protections in the Affordable Care Act.

If they succeed, it will result in millions of people losing access to health care at the worst possible time in the middle of a pandemic:

23 million Americans could lose their health insurance altogether.

If they succeed, they will eliminate protections for 135 million Americans with preexisting conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart disease or cancer.

A list that now includes over seven and a half million Americans who contracted COVID-19.

Insurance companies could deny you coverage, or could sell you a plan that won't pay a dime toward treating anything related to your preexisting condition.

If the ACA is struck down, you will have to once again pay for things like mammograms, cancer screenings, and birth control.

Seniors will pay more for prescription drugs.

And young adults will be kicked off their parents' plans.

These are not abstract issues.

We need to be clear about how overturning of the ACA will impact the people we all represent.

For example, Myka, who is eleven years old and lives in Southern California.

Myka enjoys being a Girl Scout, reading, ice-skating, eating pasta, and baking.

Her mother says the only reason Myka is able to live her life as she does now is because the Affordable Care Act guarantees that her health insurance can't deny coverage or limit her care because it's too expensive.

You see, Myka has a Congenital heart defect.

She goes to multiple specialists throughout the year and gets an MRI with anesthesia every six months.

At just eleven months old, Myka's family had already hit $500,000 in medical expenses.

Her biannual MRI costs $15,000 a session.

If Republicans succeed in striking down the ACA, insurance companies will be able to deny coverage to children with serious conditions.

Children like Myka.

And parents, will be on their own.

No one should face financial ruin to get their child, spouse, or parent the care they need.

And no family should be kept from seeing a doctor or getting treatment because an insurance company says the treatment is too expensive.

In America, access to health care shouldn't be determined by how much money you have.

Access to health care should be a right.

Myka and millions of others who are protected by the ACA know this is fundamentally what is at stake with this Supreme Court nomination.

And there's more at stake.

Throughout our history, Americans have brought cases to the Supreme Court in the ongoing fight for civil rights, human rights, and equal justice.

Decisions like Brown v. Board of Education, which opened up educational opportunities for Black boys and girls, Roe v. Wade, which recognized a woman's right to control her body, and Loving v. Virginia and Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized that love is love, and that marriage equality is the law of the land.

The United States Supreme Court is often the last refuge for equal justice when our constitutional rights are being violated.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg devoted her life to this fight for equal justice. She defended the constitution. She advocated for human rights and equality.

She stood up for the rights of women. She protected workers. She fought for the rights of consumers against big corporations. She supported LGBTQ rights. And she did so much more.

But now, her legacy and the rights she fought so hard to protect are in jeopardy.

By replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone who will undo her legacy, President Trump is attempting to roll back Americans' rights for decades to come.

Every American must understand that with this nomination, equal justice under law is at stake.

Our voting rights are at stake. Workers' rights are at stake. Consumers' rights are at stake. The right to safe and legal abortion is at stake. Holding corporations accountable is at stake. And so much more.

Mr. Chairman, this hearing is a clear attempt to jam through a Supreme Court nominee who will take health care away from millions people during a deadly pandemic that has already killed more than 214,000 Americans.

We must listen to our constituents, protect their access to health care, and wait to confirm a new Supreme Court justice until after Americans decide who they want in the White House.

Thank you.

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