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With eye on election, Democrats hammer health care on first day of Barrett hearing

Senate Democrats came to the first day of the Supreme Court hearings Monday with a singular message: Health care coverage and protections for millions of Americans are at risk if Barrett is confirmed.

Like a choir singing in unison, Democrats carried the same tune, in different vocal ranges. Each showed photos of constituents who have battled illness and stand to lose potential lifesaving treatment if the Affordable Care Act were axed, demonstrating an unusual level of harmony for a party not known for message discipline.

The relentless attacks were aimed at exploiting the GOP's Achilles' heel in the election — a pandemic-weary public that continues to cite health care as a top issue and trusts Democrats more on the topic. Without the votes to stop Republicans from confirming Barrett, 48, to a lifetime appointment on the court, Democrats are seeking to maximize their revenge at the ballot box.

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And that's a wrap: Day 2 of Barrett hearings close out after over 11 hours of testimony

Day 2 of Barrett's confirmation hearing wrapped up after more than 11 hours of testimony.

Barrett was sharply cross-examined by Democratic lawmakers over her personal and judicial philosophies and pressed for answers on subjects such as abortion and LGBTQ rights. The Affordable Care Act was also a focal point for many Democrats. 

Barrett repeatedly insisted to senators that she has no “agenda” on issues like the Affordable Care Act, the future of abortion rights or same-sex marriage and that she would be nobody's “pawn” if confirmed to the Supreme Court.

 

Barrett dodged several questions from lawmakers but told when pressed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., about Trump's remarks on him only appointing judges that advance his agenda she told the committee: "I am 100 percent committed to judicial independence from political pressure."

Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn that he thought Barrett was doing "incredibly well" in her confirmation hearings. Trump has tweeted about the hearings throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday.

The hearing will return tomorrow at 9 a.m. and each senator will be given 20 minutes each. 

Harris takes to Twitter after her questioning

Trump on Harris questioning: 'So pathetic'

President Donald Trump told a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania Tuesday night that he'd watched Sen. Kamala Harris's questioning of Barrett, calling the California senator "pathetic."

"I just watched her on television. She's so pathetic," Trump said of Harris. He said he'd watched them aboard Air Force One en route to the rally. 

He told the thousands gathered at the Johnstown airport where the event was being held that "I tried to watch as much [of the hearing] as I could," referring to Barrett as "our great future Supreme Court justice."

"I will tell you, Amy's made a great impression," he said, as the crowd chanted, "Fill that seat!"

 

Blackburn last senator to question Barrett on Day 2

Blackburn, one of the junior Republican members of the committee, is the last senator to question Barrett. 

Blackburn has used her time during the dayslong hearing to humanize Barrett with questions about her family life and being a conservative female judge.  

Barrett: 'I am not a liar'

 

Kennedy picked up after Harris grilled Barrett about her judicial philosophy and other topics, including the president.

Kennedy, R-La., claimed that Harris had called Barrett a liar, apparently referring to the moment when Harris pressed Barrett about whether she knew that Trump had said he wanted specific types of justices on the court.

"Sen. Harris called you a liar. Are you a liar?" Kennedy asked.

"I am not a liar, Sen. Kennedy," Barrett replied.

"So when Sen. Harris and her colleagues say you're a liar, they're wrong?" He continued.

"They are," she said.

It's been common in this hearing for Democrats to be sharply critical of Barrett, and Republicans have followed up to offer her wiggle room to explain further on controversial topics.

Harris points out significant timeline on view of Obamacare decision

 

Barrett dodges Harris' questions about recusal

Barrett dodged questions about how she would decide to recuse herself from cases that might present conflicts when pressed by Harris. 

Barrett has repeatedly sidestepped the question when asked by other Democratic senators, noting that there is a process of recusal. But Harris noted that the decision to recuse is up to the justice. 

Barrett did answer Harris' question about whether she weighs how a judicial decision affects American lives. This is notable, as Democratic senators, including Harris, have said millions of people would be affected if the Affordable Care Act is overturned. 

 

Kamala Harris uses opening to talk about protecting health care, Covid-19 relief

Harris began her opening to directly focus on protecting health care, such as the Affordable Care Act and the Senate's passing new coronavirus relief legislation. 

That has been a talking point of many Democratic senators over the past two days. They have also called the hearing part of a larger ploy by Republicans to repeal Obamacare. 

Harris' opening was more of a campaign speech to voters about what is at stake in the election. 

"Following a decade of failure, Washington Republicans have realized that the Affordable Care Act is working too well and helping too many people to repeal it," she said, claiming that the GOP is using the Supreme Court to strike down the law. 

Harris has started her virtual questioning

Following a dinner break, the hearing continued with Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president, who is questioning Barrett virtually.  

She is the last Democratic senator who will address Barrett during the second day of hearings. 

Barrett won't say that Trump should commit to a peaceful transfer of power

Barrett would not say that Trump should commit to a peaceful transfer of power when pressed by Sen. Booker at her confirmation hearing. 

"Senator, that seems, to me, to be pulling me in a little bit into this question of whether the president has said that he would not peacefully leave office," she said. "And so to the extent that this is a political controversy right now, as a judge, I want to stay out of it and I do not want to express a view."

Trump, who has made baseless claims about election rigging, has repeatedly dodged questions about whether he would accept the results of the election. 

Barrett did, however, speak generally and called the idea of peaceful transfers of power the "genius of our Constitution" and the "good faith and goodwill" of American voters. 

Dinner break until Harris speaks

The Senate took a 30-minute dinner break beginning around 6:22 p.m. ET. They will return shortly before 7 p.m. ET, at which point Harris will begin her line of questioning.

As the Democratic vice presidential pick, she could be the senator most directly affected by Barrett's confirmation should the high court take up an election-related case later.