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Rosen urges Affordable Care Act defense in Senate floor debut

WASHINGTON — Nevada Democrat Jacky Rosen used her first Senate floor speech Thursday to make a powerful pitch for Congress to take immediate legislative action to defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

“Nevadans sent me here to protect their health care,” Rosen said. “That’s what I’m going to do. That’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

One of the first bills Rosen introduced after joining the Senate in January was legislation with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to have Senate lawyers represent the chamber in a Texas lawsuit challenging the pre-existing condition clause in the ACA.

Rosen was instrumental in a similar effort in the House last session. That bill was refiled and approved this year after Democrats took control of the House.

The Senate version filed by Rosen faces an uphill battle.

Senate Republicans in 2017 came just two votes short of passing legislation that would have repealed the health care act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

Rosen, in her floor speech, took the extraordinary step of asking for unanimous consent of the Senate to take up the bill. It died on an objection raised by Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D.

As one of the Senate’s newest members, Rosen supports the ACA but also is seeking to keep intact provisions that allowed roughly 230,000 Nevadans to gain health care coverage through the Medicaid expansion.

In her speech, she also urged lawmakers to protect insurance coverage for those with pre-existing health conditions, shield those who could lose access to care if ACA provisions are eliminated and allow children to stay on their parent’s policies until age 26.

Rosen, a former synagogue president, was elected to the House in 2016 and was successful in her Senate bid in 2018, defeating Republican incumbent Dean Heller in a midterm election where health care was a major issue and Democrats made gains in the House, governorships and state legislatures.

But Republicans kept control of the U.S. Senate and picked up two seats for a 53-47 majority, which includes two independents who caucus with Democrats.

In the speech, Rosen also championed clean energy, noting Nevada’s success in solar energy and the potential for jobs for veterans in that industry.

Rosen also spoke in favor programs for immigrants, including the DREAM Act, a program that provides residency status for children brought into this country illegally as minors, and the Temporary Protection Status for immigrants from countries granted protected status for humanitarian reasons.

“In Nevada, we come together from every background and walk of life to make cities that shine from out of the desert,” Rosen said. “Our diversity truly captures who we are.”

Rosen also is active in opposing Senate efforts to revive licensing proceedings on a Department of Energy application to permanently store nuclear waste in the desert 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

“If there’s any issue that threatens Nevada’s beautiful landscapes and the people who call our state home, it’s Yucca Mountain,” Rosen said. “Mark my words, Nevadans’ voices matter. We do not consent to this ill-conceived project — not now, not ever.”

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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