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A lot of people have benefitted from the ACA and those protections are at stake: Sen. Sherrod Brown

Sen. Sherrod Brown, (D) Ohio joins the On the Move panel to discuss the latest with the 2020 election, stimulus and SCOTUS hearings.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: The senator from Ohio, he's joining us from the North Coast from near Cleveland, because there's so much to talk about. We've got the Supreme Court hearing, the nominee confirmation hearings. We've got the election, and we've got the stimulus talks because millions of people still hurt. Senator, it's good to see you, as always. I got to start with the Supreme Court issue, though.

SHERROD BROWN: Well, first, hold on a second. Only a guy who used to live in Cleveland would call it the North Coast. But thank you for that.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Well, thank you.

SHERROD BROWN: It is the North Coast. We're on the greatest body of fresh water in the world. But thank you.

ADAM SHAPIRO: I miss swimming in Lake Erie and donuts from Jillie's in Little Italy. But I got to get to the business at hand, and that is the Supreme Court nominee. The hearings are underway right now. And your colleague, Mr. Graham, Lindsey Graham, was attacking the Affordable Care Act today, as if making a justification for its repeal. What is at stake here?

SHERROD BROWN: Well, what's at stake is that for a decade, a whole lot of people in this country have benefited from the Affordable Care Act. There are hundreds of thousands of people in my state of Ohio who are 19, 22, 25 years old that are on their parents' health plan. Governor Kasich, a Republican, and I, working together, extended Medicaid to 600,000 people.

And we know in my state of 12 million, 5 million-- this was pre-pandemic-- 5 million people have a preexisting condition. And there is no question that if the president has his way, and Lindsey Graham has his way, and Mitch McConnell, that those protections are gone for preexisting condition. There is no dispute about the facts of that.

They couldn't do it through the democratic, small D, process. They tried to repeal the Affordable Care. They've tried literally dozens of times on the House or Senate floor over the last decade-- fallen short. They're using the court to try to legislate, in a sense. And they want the Supreme Court to wipe it away, the Affordable Care Act.

But if they do, that's several million people that will lose-- several million in my state alone that will lose their consumer protections for preexisting condition.

JESSICA SMITH: Hi, Senator, Jessica Smith here.

SHERROD BROWN: Hey, Jessica. It's you again.

JESSICA SMITH: I know, it's been a while.

SHERROD BROWN: In your not so new job anymore, so.

JESSICA SMITH: What do you say the biggest goal is for Democrats on this committee? Clearly, it doesn't look like they're going to have the votes to actually stop this nomination. So what's the goal as this hearing goes on for the next couple of days?

SHERROD BROWN: I think the goal is two things. One is to show that this is illegitimate in the way they're doing this, that there are literally millions of people that have voted in Ohio. There are already hundreds of thousands that have voted with absentee ballots or taking it in, mailing it in, or going to early vote. Never in history have we voted on a Supreme, has there been a vacancy occurred this late before an election.

Lincoln stopped. He didn't move forward with a nominee when it happened with him 150 years ago, nor should McConnell. So the first is to show it's a power grab. It's illegitimate. But the other thing is, this Supreme Court, the Republicans can't repeal the Affordable Care Act. They hate it. It's [INAUDIBLE] Obamacare, OK?

Fine, they couldn't repeal it through the legislative process, so their only way of doing it is shifting it to the courts. And that's anti-democratic, small D. It's not what the public wants. It means a whole lot of people. In the midst of a pandemic, a whole lot of people will lose their insurance and struggle with what do I do next.

I mean, already, when McConnell and Trump took away the unemployment benefit for 600,000 Ohioans and tens of millions of Americans, there are already people losing their health insurance that way. But compounded now by the Affordable Care Act, wipe it away is just-- it's morally and-- it's just morally bankrupt.

JULIE HYMAN: Senator, it's Julie here. I want to move on to the election that is already in progress, right? We've been seeing pictures of a lot of long lines in various places, including in Georgia, over the past couple of days.

We've had some rulings across the country. In Texas, for example, there's only a single ballot collection box that's allowed in each county. In neighboring Pennsylvania, there have been some concerns about what is happening with ballots.

This is largely administered, of course, on a local level. On your level, is there any recourse in trying to do some kind of broad-based election reform to make all of this easier?

SHERROD BROWN: Yeah, first of all, it should be some national standards. It's insane that in Ohio, you have to do this. In other states, you have to have a witness to do absentee balloting. In other states, the poll is open. The early voting opens much later than other states.

Ohio has the same situation, Julie. We have a Secretary of State who might as well be on candidate Trump's payroll. He's paid by taxpayers, elected, but he didn't win his election by that much-- that's beside the point. But he has ordered only one dropbox per county.

We've gone to court. People have gone to court to say more than one-- my wife and I took our ballot in on Sunday afternoon. Downtown Cleveland was a 20-minute drive. It was worth it for us. But a lot of people, that's pretty hard to do. And there was a bit of a line. It was Sunday afternoon, not a long line.

But there should be dropboxes, secure dropboxes in libraries and places that are accessible to the public. But it's just one in a number of things they're doing just to make it harder to vote. I mean, to make it hard for secretaries of state who, in too many cases, have just been political hacks in Ohio-- for the Secretary of State to make it harder to vote in the midst of a pandemic to vote safely is just wrong.

And I mean, I know that Donald Trump said if everybody votes, Republicans lose. I don't really believe that. I was Secretary of State of Ohio a few years ago. And there were some really big turnout years of Republicans wipe Democrats out. And other years, good turnout, Democrats win.

So but there is a national mission from the top down among Republicans to push-- to keep people from voting, frankly. I mean, it's what we've seen around the country chapter and verse. They're all out of the same-- they're all playing out of the same playbook. And it's in-- but that's not going to work because there is such an excitement about voting this year.

In Columbus, my daughter's city councilwoman, Elizabeth Brown in Columbus, and she went to her early voting on the first day on last Tuesday. Got there about 9:30. The polls had opened at 9:00. There had been people that had lined up at 4:00 AM to vote on the first day. So there is a huge demand-- sorry about the dogs in the background. There is a huge demand for people voting this year.

ADAM SHAPIRO: It's all right to have the dogs. I've got to ask you, though-- after the election, no matter who wins, we've got millions of people who will need help. Not only with the stimulus, but then once we're past that, what is going to be priority number one for you in helping millions of people who are right now out of work?

SHERROD BROWN: Well, the priority number one is the $600 a week unemployment benefit that were taken away. That benefit was taken away by McConnell and Trump in August. And what are people to do? 600,000 people can't find jobs. What are they going to do without that benefit? And they've all-- and we're going to see a wave of evictions coming. We're pretty certain. I mean, I don't know how that will be avoided unless Congress acts.

So my top two priorities are $600 a week for unemployed workers and some emergency rental assistance so we don't see, in the midst of a pandemic, this huge wave of evictions where people will go who knows where if they're evicted.

I would add to that investing in school districts so that public schools can safely open. We all have children, grandchildren, or people we know that have had to learn remote, which is so hard on young children especially, because Congress has failed and the president has failed to get help to school districts so they can open for business for kids actually in person.