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U.S. Sen. Cory Booker. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

In confirmation fight, Booker wants all eyes on health care

By Nikita Biryukov, October 12 2020 4:27 pm

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-Newark) is keeping focus on the Affordable Care Act as he and other Democrats in Congress’s upper chamber enter a confirmation fight for late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat that they will likely lose.

“Donald Trump told us what it’s about. He has explicitly said that he is going to put a justice on that will overturn the Affordable Care Act,” Booker said on a press call following the first day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings. “He has not minced words whatsoever. That is his purpose.”

The battle over a seat that could give Republicans a 6-3 majority on the highest court in the land for a generation is likely unwinnable for Democrats. Republicans have the votes, and while a small number of GOP senators expressed concerns about rushing to confirm Barrett weeks before a presidential election, none have signaled opposition to President Donald Trump’s nominee.

The move could imperil the future of the Affordable Care Act. Trump’s administration is backing a suit headed to the Supreme Court that could end with the law struck.

Though Democratic leaders in the Senate have floated a cavalcade of arcane procedural measures to slow the process, there’s little hope that those efforts will succeed.

Booke, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he had not discussed with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) skipping the hearings in a bid to deny Republicans a quorum, as some top Democrats have suggested.

“I have no plans right now beyond my questioning tomorrow,” he said.

While Democrats have pointed to their GOP colleagues’ brazen about-face on the Thurmond Rule, an unwritten and shakily-followed rule that says a president should not nominate a justice to the Supreme Court with a presidential election on the horizon, those attacks have found little purchase.

That didn’t stop Booker from launching hits along the same line, though the senator’s focus, clearly, was on health care.

“Lindsay Graham invited us to use his words against him, that he would not put up a justice this close to an election,” Booker said, referring the Republican Senate Judiciary chairman. “Judge Barrett, to me, is to me not the issue as much as the illegitimacy of this process and trying to push a nominee through who is clearly intended to kill the Affordable Care Act.”

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