GOP Senator Chuck Grassley Reportedly Called Supreme Court Case Attacking Obamacare ‘Ridiculous’

Ian Millhiser Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst, Think Progress

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) may have done more than any other member of Congress to obstruct passage of the Affordable Care Act. As ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley was the senior most Republican member of the so-called “Gang of Six” convened by committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) in an attempt to achieve bipartisan support for the legislation. Grassley, however, largely succeeded in delaying the bill’s passage — at one point sending a fundraising letter seeking “immediate support in helping me defeat ‘Obama-care’” while he was ostensibly negotiating over the bill’s contents.

Yet, when a veteran journalist asked Grassley about a lawsuit seeing to gut the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court, Grassley reportedly labeled this lawsuit “ridiculous.”

Grassley’s views were first reported by Steven Brill, the author of a recent book on the Affordable Care Act, during an appearance last week on MSNBC. Brill was discussing King v. Burwell, a lawsuit that seeks to cut off tax subsidies that help millions of Americans pay for health insurance in states that opted to have the federal government set up their health exchange rather than doing it themselves. According to Brill, when he asked Grassley about King, the senator initially “didn’t even know what the suit was about.”

 

Once Brill explained the suit to Grassley, the senator responded “oh, that’s ridiculous. We obviously meant that the subsidies would go to the federal exchange and not just the state exchange,” according to Brill.

Nor was Grassley alone in this view. Rather, Brill says that when the suit was filed, he asked “all the Republican staffers” who worked on the bill about this suit, and “they laughed at it.”

Grassley and the Republican staffers interviewed by Brill join a wealth of Republican lawmakers and conservative operatives who once understood that the Affordable Care Act guarantees tax credits in all fifty states, although many of these individuals have since changed their view now that King gives them an incentive to say that the law says something else. A short list of Obamacare opponents who previously indicated that the law provides tax credits regardless of who operates a particular state’s exchange includes RepublicanGovernors Dave Heineman (R-NE), Nikki Haley (R-SC), Bob McDonnell (R-VA) and Scott Walker (R-WI), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI), and the conservative Heritage Foundation.

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This has been reposted from Think Progress.

Ian Millhiser is a Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Editor of ThinkProgress Justice. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from Kenyon College and a J.D., magna cum laude, from Duke University. Ian clerked for Judge Eric L. Clay of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and has worked as an attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center’s Federal Rights Project, as Assistant Director for Communications with the American Constitution Society, and as a Teach For America teacher in the Mississippi Delta. His writings have appeared in a diversity of legal and mainstream publications, including the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report, Slate, the Guardian, the American Prospect, the Yale Law and Policy Review and the Duke Law Journal; and he has been a guest on CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English, Fox News and many radio shows.

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