California Senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris spoke during Day 1 of Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing Monday, with a copy of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg picture book I Dissent prominently beside her.
Harris echoed many Democrats’ speeches in warning that Barrett, if confirmed to take the late Justice Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court, would likely rule against the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, removing health care protections for millions.
Harris accused Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham and Republicans of “deliberately defying the will of the American people” and conducting an unsafe hearing with coronavirus deaths on the rise in the United States.
Here’s what you need to know:
Harris Called the Entire Confirmation Hearing ‘Illegitimate’ & Accused Republicans of Trying to Use the Court to Take Away Health Care
MOMENTS AGO: Sen. Kamala Harris appears at "illegitimate" Amy Coney Barrett hearing with RBG book "I Dissent' behind her. pic.twitter.com/BPlPJOxnwt
— The Hill (@thehill) October 12, 2020
Harris joined her Democratic colleagues in tying Barrett’s likely confirmation to overturning the Affordable Care Act, something Trump and Republicans have publicly supported.
She spoke virtually, as did several other senators.
Harris also excoriated Graham for holding the hearing as coronavirus deaths in the United States surpass 215,000 and at least two members of the committee — Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis — recently tested positive.
“This hearing should have been postponed,” Harris said, calling it “reckless” and a proceeding that put janitorial staff, senate aides and capitol police at risk of contracting coronavirus. According to Harris, the Senate should be prioritizing a new stimulus bill, after talks appeared last week to come to a dead stop.
“Nine million people have already voted, and more will while this illegitimate committee process is underway,” Harris said, referring to the unprecedented confirmation process during an ongoing presidential election. “My Republican colleagues know that, yet they are deliberately defying the will of the American people in an attempt to roll back health care protections.”
“In 2017, President Trump and Republicans repeatedly tried to get rid of the ACA. But remember, people from all walks of life spoke out and demanded that Republicans stop trying to take away the American people’s health care,” she continued. “They finally realized the ACA was far too popular to repeal in Congress, so now they are trying to bypass the will of the voters and have the Supreme Court do their dirty work.”
As She Spoke, Harris Had the Ginsburg Picture Book I Dissent Sitting Prominently Beside Her
Harris first appeared with a photograph of one of her constituents, a 7-year-old Calirofnia girl with a congenital heart defect who, Harris said, would lose her affordable health coverage if the Supreme Court strikes down the ACA, and faces $15,000 MRI scans every six months.
However, midway through her remarks, she removed the photo to display a copy of the picture book I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy.
USA Today described the book as a child’s biography of Ginsburg, following her from childhood through law school and as a lawyer, then as a Supreme Court justice. “On each page, kids witness Ginsburg’s dissenting in the face of injustice,” the outlet wrote.
Senator Amy Klobuchar also evoked Ginsburg’s legacy, telling senators that, “In the name of RBG, we should not go backward” in confirming Barrett.
The first day of the confirmation hearing recessed at 2:15 p.m. Monday and was to resume at 9 a.m. on Tuesday with rounds of questioning from the Senate Judiciary Committee.