Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.) on Monday dodged a question about whether Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I., Vt.) single-payer health care proposal is hurting Democrats.
Steve Rattner, the former head of the Obama administration's Auto Task Force and a New York Times contributor, asked Cantwell on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" whether the "Medicare for All," single-payer health care bill is "helping or hurting the Democratic Party come together behind a cohesive set of ideas in anticipation of the next two elections."
Cantwell immediately deflected the question. She referenced back to an earlier segment on the NFL and said that she wants to focus on "playing this week's game," noting the debate on the Graham-Cassidy health care bill this week.
"This week's game is making sure that we stop this ill-conceived idea that our colleagues seem content on continuing to push even though there are hospitals, physicians, organizations all across America who are saying, ‘This will gut our health care, so please stop putting this proposal on the table,'" Cantwell said, referring to the Republican health care bill proposed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R., La.).
"We have to fight that battle first, and as you can see, while we've had some good support just this past Friday, we have to make sure that we execute on this this week and continue to win this debate," Cantwell added.
Republican lawmakers in the Senate must pass the health care proposal aimed at repealing and replacing Obamacare by Sept. 30 under the budget reconciliation process. Otherwise, they cannot do so with a simple, 51-vote majority and will need Democratic support to pass the legislation, effectively killing it. Congress is currently awaiting a Congressional Budget Office "preliminary report" to see if it complies with budget rules.
Several potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates in the Senate are backing Sanders' single-payer health care proposal, despite several vulnerable incumbent senators staying mum on the issue.
At least four potential 2020 contenders have signed on to co-sponsor Sanders' "Medicare for All" bill. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) earlier this month became the latest possible candidate to support the bill following similar announcements from Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), and Cory Booker (N.J.).