U.S. President Barack Obama is going to Capitol Hill Wednesday to rally Democratic lawmakers to protect his landmark healthcare legislation. Vice President-elect Mike Pence will be there too, to talk with Republicans about their agenda, which includes repealing the program frequently referred to as “Obamacare.”
The dueling meetings highlight one of the major upcoming battles as the White House transitions from Obama to President-elect Donald Trump.
The Affordable Care Act passed Congress in 2010 when Democrats had control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as having Obama in control of the presidency. On January 20, that concentration of power shifts back to the Republicans.
Trump has called Obamacare a “lousy” program that costs far too much, and while he has not laid out specifics of a plan to replace it, he has made it clear he wants to.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday that Obama would be discussing with Democrats how to counter the Republican goal of repeal.
“The President has long been open to the idea that if there are Republicans who are genuinely interested in reforming the Affordable Care Act in a way that would strengthen the program, the president would be strongly supportive of that effort,” Earnest said. “But that’s not what Republicans have offered.”
A focus on the contrasting policy positions of Obama and Trump will likely be on display next week when the president gives his farewell address, followed the next day by Trump’s first major news conference since being elected in November.
Trump announced the January 11 “general news conference” in a Twitter post Tuesday evening.