Mitch McConnell’s announcement Tuesday that the Senate would cancel most of its August recess was seen as a political blow to Democrats, who would have less time at home to campaign and fund-raise ahead of November elections in which they have 24 Senate seats up for grabs. But Democrats are planning a political counter-punch. They are looking to use the August session to pin the blame for health care prices on Trump and the GOP.
Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, wrote a letter to McConnell, asking him to allow time in August for votes on a range of health care and prescription drug proposals, such as higher tax credit for Affordable Care Act plans, a Medicare buy-in for people 55 and over and allowing Medicare to negotiate on drug prices.
“We Democrats, our entire caucus, believes this previously unscheduled session time can be put to good use to finally help Americans secure the affordable health care that President Trump and congressional Republicans have thus far failed to deliver,” Schumer said Wednesday.
McConnell said Tuesday that Senate Republicans plan to use the August session to confirm more of the president’s judicial and executive-branch nominees and to push ahead on appropriations bills for 2019. But Democrats say they’ll hammer away at their health care message. As one senior Senate Democratic aide told Politico:
“August will be health care month. Every time they say ‘nominations,’ we’ll say ‘lower premiums.’ When they say ‘appropriations process,’ we’ll say ‘bring down drug prices.’ Health care has been President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ biggest failure, and it’s the issue that’s top of mind for voters. We’re going to be relentless in pushing to prevent the Republican rate hikes that are set to land just before Election Day.”