Democratic leaders want to know why the Department of Justice has changed course in its stance on the Affordable Care Act, and are ramping up their efforts to get answers from the Trump administration.
In a pair of letters sent Monday to Attorney General Bill Barr and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.; Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J.; Richard Neal, D-Mass.; Robert Scott, D-Va.; and Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. demanded details regarding what influence, if any, the White House and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had in the DOJ's position.
"This action could deprive millions of Americans of health insurance coverage, including 133 million people with pre-existing conditions," said the letters, obtained by Fox News. The representatives called the DOJ's position a "sudden and extremely troubling reversal," and said the administration has not complied with their requests for documents or testimony from officials.
This comes after a federal judge ruled that the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare, is unconstitutional now that there is no penalty attached to the individual mandate that required people to get insurance coverage. The Supreme Court ruled that ObamaCare was legal because the penalty amounted to a tax, which falls under congressional authority.
That penalty was eliminated after President Trump took office, and 20 states led by Texas argued in a lawsuit that ObamaCare became invalid because there was no longer any Congressional authority behind the mandate. Rather than defend the law that the government passed during the previous administration, the DOJ agreed with the lawsuit's argument and declined to defend ObamaCare.
The Democrats expressed concern that the DOJ took this new position because "politically-motivated forces inside the White House and the Office of Management and Budget may have brought undue pressure on the Department to reverse its prior legal conclusions, and that this occurred over the objection of Attorney General Barr."
The representatives renewed their request for records and testimony, and asked Cipollone to make OMB Acting Director Russ Vought available for an interview. They threatended additional action if the administration does not comply with a May 27 deadline.
"If we do not receive a response by this date, we will have no choice but to consider alternative means of obtaining compliance," the letters said. While the letters did not specify what type of "alternative means" they might use, subpoenas could be possible. Fox News reached out to Cummings' office.
House Democrats have recently used subpoenas in their quests to obtain Trump's financial records and an unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report.