Updated at 11:28 a.m. ET
Democrats on Monday executed an old move from the playbook used by a party when it doesn’t control the majority during a big hearing: changing the subject.
Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein of California and her colleagues don’t have the votes to stop Judge Amy Coney Barrett from being confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate Judiciary Committee or the full chamber. All they have is the time they can talk between members of the majority.
On Monday, they used it to talk about what they called the real subject of the proceedings this week: the desire by President Trump and Republicans to sink the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” via a ruling from the high court.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., scolded Republicans for what he called the “screaming-tire 180” they’d pulled since 2016, when they declined to hear President Obama’s nominee for the court that year until after Election Day.
Now, Whitehouse observed, “We get this mad-dash rush. Why? Look at the Supreme Court calendar.”
A case scheduled for mid-November could grant an opportunity for a court with a new conservative majority to fire a “torpedo” into Obamacare, the Democrats charged — and Barrett herself embodies that weapon.
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Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., argued that Republicans had failed to pull down or reform Obamacare via legislation, including when they had total control in Washington, and now they’re hoping to send Barrett to do so.
Democrats used their time to tell stories about constituents whom they said had been helped by the ACA, including an Illinoisan, in Durbin’s case, who might have had a child’s coverage cut off and a Rhode Islander, in Whitehouse’s case, who might not have been able to go ahead with a kidney transplant.
The Democrats showed Barrett huge photos of the constituents whose stories they told, including with big placards that staff members set up behind Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
With such stories “coming in from around the country, why would we rush forward?” Whitehouse asked.