Full interview: Tillis discusses Supreme Court, Affordable Care Act, pandemic relief
Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis discusses the pending confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice, the future of the Affordable Care Act and efforts to pass another coronavirus pandemic relief package.
We're talking to North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis with eight days until your final chance to vote. Election Day. Senator Tillis. Thanks for your time. Thank you. So the Senate is poised to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in a full vote today. If that does happen, it would be one of the fastest Supreme Court confirmations in history. Do you think Judge Barrett has been thoroughly vetted? I do. You know, she was thoroughly better before she went on the seventh Circuit a couple of years ago. Additional research is done. She's had over 600 cases since she's been on the seventh Circuit. She's got a very broad base of supporters at either end of the political spectrum, every full time faculty member of Notre Dame Law School and even even those who have supported Cagan and other, uh, judges sent forth by a Democratic president. So she's gonna go to the Supreme Court. I think she's gonna do an extraordinary job with a 6 to 3 conservative majority now on the Supreme Court. If that vote does indeed go through, do you think the court will now rule against the affordable care act? I think that that during the hearings, the Democrats trying to get a commitment one way or the other, What I do know is they're gonna follow the Constitution and the law. Andi, I believe that the the false narrative of all these presidents being overturned is probably not gonna prove true. I think Judge Barrett is, uh is going to do her part Thio do what's within the Constitution and the law and not do what Congress needs to If something in the law is proven unconstitutional based on your understanding of those arguments that are set to begin November 10th, do you think that the affordable care act should no longer be the, uh, something that Americans should have? Well, I believe that we have to have a protection for preexisting conditions. I voted five times to do that. The Democrats have voted against it. I have a bill protecting pre existing conditions. But what we have to do is as a matter of legislative policy, recognized that the Affordable care act has come up short. That's why five of the Democratic presidential primary candidates all said that we needed something else. They call it Medicare for all we've got to recognize people have insurance policies that they could only use in a catastrophic condition. We have to recognize that rule health this suffering as these large health systems air contracting from the rural areas. There's a lot of work to do by Congress. We can't expect the Supreme Court toe legislate. We've got a lot of proposals on the table that Democrats and Republicans should come together on and solve this once and for all and make a promise that we can keep unlike the promises that have been broken, like keeping your doctor if you want to keep in your health care if you want. Thio We know that the Affordable Care Act may have been well intentioned but has been poorly executed. It's on Congress to fix it. Can you ensure North Carolinians, then that there, If they have pre existing conditions, they will be protected under whatever plan that you all are working on, there is no doubt in a pre existing conditions will be protected. We've had historic numbers of Republicans vote for a provision to protect pre existing conditions. We know that the democrats say that they want to support it. I believe that many of the things that are positive that came out of the Affordable Care Act will be will be absolutely assured. That's why that gets disgraceful, that people are scaring people who are right now. I just talked with a friend of mine who's had cancer for six years, battling cancer, wondering if there was really a chance that he was gonna lose his healthcare coverage because he had a pre existing condition. I said, It's not gonna happen and people that are going out there and say that's happening are being dishonest or they're really poorly informed. Do you have a plan? Though There's a number of plans out there. If you take a look at my plan toe, literally protect pre existing conditions. It's fairly straightforward. It's only a couple of pages long. There are other proposals out there for high risk pools for allowing insurance to be purchased over state lines for in sending businesses to cover more people that are currently not eligible on the plan. It's not any one thing. It's about several pieces to the puzzle that we can actually solve if we just have people come together and, uh, check the partisan extreme positions at the door and then solve something for the American people and people in North Carolina. There's a number of plans out there. Dr Barrasso, Dr Cassidy, both senators from the states of Louisiana and Wyoming. A number of people, Lamar Alexander and my colleagues. The Democrats know that Cal Cunningham knows that. We need to cut the politics out and solve the problem because there is a problem out there that even if if the affordable care act is upheld, we've still got a lot of work to do, and it's gonna be work done in Congress. Given the record number of coronavirus cases that we're now seeing in North Carolina and across the nation, what steps specifically should the federal government be taking well, we have to continue Thio bear down on the vaccine approval. We've got several vaccines, some of the research being done in North Carolina, that looked like they could be approved by the end of the year. Then we have to work on manufacturing and getting it to the broader population. But first, the at risk population we have to pass a follow up to the Cares Act paycheck protection program funding for schools so they can open safely. Additional funding for vaccine research, the extension of the unemployment benefit. That was something I hope that we were going to vote on this week, but now it looks like it may may fall into the week or so after the election, but it's giving healthcare systems. The resource is that they need school systems, the resource is they need and also providing additional economic payments toe. The number of people have fallen into poverty, maybe not the same scope that we did in the first cares act. But I do believe there's individual assistance payments that need to go out as well. And then we have to continue to tell everybody to do their part through social distancing, wearing a mask, getting your flu shot because you could get cove it and the flu at the same time. So we've got a manager while we're working on ultimately ending it through the vaccine. I do want to talk about that stimulus deal because I listened to your town hall a couple of weeks ago where you said when you recovered from Cove in 19 your number one priority would be getting that relief package done as you mentioned, the likelihood of that happening, not certainly before the election. It would happen after the election. So what are you saying to the many families who are really counting on another stimulus package? Who are struggling right now? I'm seeing for a month are a little over a month ago. I have a trillion dollar package that my opponent, Cal Cunningham, said he would vote against. It wasn't perfect. It didn't have all the provisions in it that I wanted. I'm prepared to vote on another package that I think will be in excess of a trillion dollars. That's critically important to make sure we keep businesses open. You know, the tourism industry in North Carolina has been especially, had hard. They were first in the crisis. They're gonna be the last cell. If Congress doesn't act, the economic consequences of not acting probably far surpasses a trillion dollars orm. Or that I think Congress has to appropriate whether this unprecedented crisis that we have in front of us Senator Tillis, thanks so much for your time. Thank you. Have a great day. You too,