Weekly Democratic Address
October 9, 2020
Hello, I’m Senator Amy Klobuchar and I’m proud to represent Minnesota in the United States Senate.
I know that this week, a lot has been going on, and a lot of the news has focused on Americans at the highest level of government who have been infected with the coronavirus, including President Trump, the First Lady, and several of my Senate colleagues. And we wish them all a speedy recovery.
But there are millions of Americans who don’t make the headlines who have been affected by this virus – who have gotten sick, lost friends or family members, or lost their jobs and businesses. Almost every single one of us has a story to tell about how this virus has changed our lives.
And I’m one of them, so this is deeply personal to me.
My husband John got coronavirus earlier this year. He was really sick and got severe pneumonia, and ended up in the hospital on oxygen. And back then, it took six days to get his test results. And when he was finally discharged, we made sure to be extra careful that he didn’t infect anyone else. He stayed isolated for two weeks and saw no one, not even me.
My 92-year-old dad also got COVID in assisted living, and I’ll never forget standing outside the glass window looking into his room. He has Alzheimer’s, and while he knew who we were, he couldn’t figure out why we were standing outside in masks. I remember he looked so small, and I thought it was going to be the last time I ever saw him. Miraculously, he ended up recovering, but so many others didn’t.
Unfortunately, our story isn’t unique, and so many people who got sick like my dad and my husband never came home.
This virus has killed more than 210,000 Americans and reached the highest levels of our government – including the White House, the Senate and the military. It has hit frontline workers and people of color especially hard. And sadly, cases have continued to rise in 33 states over the past several weeks.
To help the millions of Americans struggling during this pandemic, last week, the House passed the updated version of the HEROES Act – which provides the necessary funding for increased testing to try and get ahead of this virus and allow our economy to open in a consistent manner. Because it shouldn’t just be the people in the White House who get the testing and the support that they need.
But the President on Tuesday instructed his team and my Republican colleagues in the U.S. Senate to stop negotiating a bipartisan agreement to get additional relief funding to Americans and their families and instead to focus on trying to rush through a Supreme Court nominee. That is their priority, instead of help for the American people.
And it isn’t just any Supreme Court nominee – this is a nominee who has already criticized Chief Justice Roberts for upholding the Affordable Care Act.
From the beginning, President Trump and Mitch McConnell’s goal has been to overturn the Affordable Care Act. And if you don’t believe me, it’s right there in capital letters in the President’s tweets. The day after announcing his nominee to the Court, he said it would be a “big win” if the court strikes down the health law. Well, just a week after Election Day, guess what? The Supreme Court will hear arguments in a challenge to the Affordable Care Act. This administration has argued that this law should be thrown out.
And the stakes have never been higher. Without the Affordable Care Act, over 20 million Americans could lose their health insurance.
The protections that prevent insurance companies from denying you healthcare coverage for a pre-existing condition would be gone. The ability to keep your kid on your insurance until they’re 26 would be gone. Free preventive care for your loved ones would be gone. The guarantee of free birth control would be gone.
Millions of seniors would see their drug costs soar and Medicare’s financial security would be severely harmed, putting benefits at risk for all seniors.
And the stability of health care for Native Americans would be threatened by cutting off additional funds available to Native Americans through Medicaid and Medicare, and leaving the entire system in jeopardy.
This challenge in court, backed by President Trump’s Department of Justice, to take away health insurance from millions of Americans and these protections for every American comes in the middle of the pandemic – when we need our health care the most.
The American people know how important this is. They know that we are in the middle of an emergency pandemic. They know their health care is on the line. According to a recent poll, a record number of voters support the Affordable Care Act and the protections it provides for their families. That’s why they’re voting now. And they are voting in droves.
So as my Republican colleagues move forward with this Supreme Court hearing, they can’t hide what they’re doing from the American people. It’s right there on TV. They’re not trying to help you. They are literally jamming a Supreme Court nominee through right before a court case in which they have argued to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.
Americans deserve to have their voices heard when it comes to protecting their health care, whether they’re Democrats, Independents or Republicans. And that’s why we should not be holding these hearings in the middle of a pandemic just weeks before the American public chooses the next president. The winner of that election should choose the Court nominee.
This is not about rhetoric. This is about peoples’ lives. It’s about the mom juggling a toddler on her lap while trying to do her job from home because she doesn’t have childcare. It’s about the first grader having to understand having to use the mute button to learn to read. It’s about the seniors isolated in their homes, not able to attend birthday parties or their grandkid’s graduations.
So let’s focus on this – improving the Affordable Care Act, bringing down the cost of prescription drugs instead of ripping people’s health care away. And let’s make sure that during this pandemic, we get American families the help they need.
So thank you for listening, and please, make sure you have a plan to vote so that your voice will be heard in this important election.