Democrats have tapped former Gov. Steve Beshear to deliver the party’s response to President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, highlighting the Kentucky Democrat’s efforts to expand health care coverage under the law Republicans are determined to repeal and replace.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made the announcement on Friday in which they also turned to immigration activist Astrid Silva to give the Spanish language response to Trump’s speech. Silva is a so-called Dreamer who came to the country at the age of five as an illegal immigrant.
Silva spoke at the Democratic convention and her selection is a reminder of Trump’s initial policies on immigration. While the Trump administration has cracked down on immigrants living in the country illegally, Trump has said he wants to spare the children.
During his tenure as governor, Beshear embraced the 2010 health care law and expanded the Medicaid program to provide coverage to thousands of Kentuckians.
“American families desperately need our president to put his full attention on creating opportunity and good-paying jobs and preserving their right to affordable health care and a quality education,” Beshear said in a statement. “Real leaders don’t spread derision and division — they build partnerships and offer solutions instead of ideology and blame.”
Republicans have repeatedly criticized the law as too costly and vowed to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s overhaul.
House Republicans aim to roll out legislation in coming weeks to replace major elements of the Affordable Care Act with a new system involving tax credits, health savings accounts and high risk pools, but crucial details remain unknown.
They’ve had to defend their plans at raucous town hall meetings around the country this week, and a new poll showed support for the law at a record high.
The choice of the former governor stands as a counterpoint to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is at the forefront of efforts to repeal the law.
Silva moved to Nevada as a child and contact with former Sen. Harry Reid helped to transform her into an immigration activist.
“President Trump would have people believe that all immigrants are criminals and that refugees are terrorists,” Silva said in a statement. “But like my family, the vast majority of immigrants and refugees came to this country escaping poverty and conflict, looking for a better life and the opportunity to reach the American Dream.”