WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright on Tuesday accused U.S. Attorney General William Barr of making a “breathtaking” move by urging federal courts to invalidate the Obama administration’s signature health care law.
Cartwright, a Democrat who represents the northeastern Pennsylvania-based 8th District, grilled Barr at a U.S. House hearing over his department’s recent declaration that the entire Affordable Care Act should be tossed out in court.
“It’s unbelievable. It stands out, your decision does, for its breadth, its scope, its recklessness and its lack of legal justification to invalidate the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” Cartwright said.
The congressman warned Barr that if the effort is successful, tens of millions of Americans would see their healthcare premiums skyrocket.
Barr told lawmakers throughout the hearing that he isn’t responsible for setting policy.
“I’m a lawyer. I’m not in charge of health care,” he said. The attorney general told Cartwright, “When we’re faced with a legal question, we try to base our answer on the law.”
Barr also told the Pennsylvania Democrat that if he thinks the administration is taking “such an outrageous position, you have nothing to worry about. Let the courts do their job.”
Cartwright asked the attorney general if he would support a stay on a possible Supreme Court ruling that tossed out the Affordable Care Act to avoid stranding people whose healthcare could lapse.
But Barr declined to speculate on such a situation. “From my experience, the Supreme Court would likely deal with that in their opinion and provide some kind of period to wind it down,” he said. “Your premise that the Justice Department makes health care policy is simply wrong.”