(Bloomberg) — Congressional Democrats are warning they will fight to prevent President Donald Trump from withholding payments used to subsidize insurance costs for poor Americans under the Affordable Care Act, signalling the issue could become part of the debate to avoid a government shutdown at the end of April.
Top House and Senate Democratic leaders are pushing to guarantee the cost-sharing reduction subsidies as part of a spending bill that must be approved by April 28, the last day of government funding under current law, according to three Democratic aides.
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, also signaled a tough stance Thursday, saying Democrats “will not negotiate with hostage takers.”
Trump told the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that he might withhold the cost-sharing-reduction payments to force Democrats to negotiate changes to the ACA, which Republicans have been seeking to repeal.
The three Democratic aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said both Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi agree that cost-sharing-reduction payments must be included in the omnibus spending bill being negotiated as permanent, mandatory spending.
Those payments to lower-income people have been at the center of an almost three-year legal battle between Republicans and Democrats.