Kamala Harris targets vulnerable GOP senators over Obamacare at Amy Coney Barrett hearing

Senator Kamala Harris has delivered a blistering campaign-like speech at the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett,  targeting vulnerable Republicans on the Judiciary Committee vetting Ms Barrett for their efforts to repeal the 2010 health care law more commonly known as Obamacare.

Appearing remotely via teleconference, Ms Harris, the running mate of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, on Tuesday rattled off the projected numbers of people in five states who would lose their health insurance if Obamacare were repealed by Supreme Court fiat.

“Insurance companies reinstating annual and lifetime caps [would mean] more than 20 million Americans losing insurance at the worst possible time, again, in the midst of a pandemic, including nearly 2 million Texans, 607,000 North Carolinians, 288,000 South Carolinians, 227,000 Iowans and 4.2 million Californians,” Ms Harris said.

GOP Senators John Cornyn of Texas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Joni Ernst of Iowa — all of whom sit on the Judiciary panel — are each facing highly contested re-election battles this fall.

Ms Harris urged the Senate to be “laser focused” on passing legislation to help American workers and health facilities struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.

“But sadly, Senate Republicans have rushed to hold this Supreme Court confirmation hearing rather than help those who are suffering from a public health crisis not of their making,” the California Democrat said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Monday he was teeing up a vote on another “targeted” Covid-19 relief package aimed in part at providing aid to small businesses.

The Republican leader has panned House Democrats’ latest $1.8trn proposal as exorbitantly expensive. His own bill is not expected to receive a final vote in the Senate, where Democrats control enough seats to filibuster it.

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“I’m going to try next week one more time. … I want to give our friends on the other side one more chance,” Mr McConnell told reporters on Monday while campaigning in Kentucky, where he is also up for re-election.

The upcoming election, now just three weeks away, has pervaded the Barrett hearings so far this week.

Democrats must pick up four seats to reclaim an outright Senate majority they haven’t savored since 2015. If Mr Biden wins the presidency, they only need a net pickup of three seats since a vice president Harris would break any tie vote in the chamber.

Mr Graham, the Judiciary Committee’s chairman, is in a fight for his political life after his Democratic opponent in South Carolina, former state party Chairman Jaime Harrison, raised $57m in the third quarter this year, a record fundraising haul.

Several national elections handicappers have rated the Palmetto State’s Senate race a Tossup.

Mr Harrison’s fundraising figures have so shocked Republicans that Mr Graham and Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho both mentioned campaign finance reform at the top of their remarks on Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of money being raised in this campaign. I’d like to know where the hell some of it’s coming from,” Mr Graham said.

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