Harry Reid Remains Confident About SCOTUS Obamacare Case

The Senate minority leader hasn't joined in the King v. Burwell speculation fray, but he thinks the answer is clear.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has less to say about a Supreme Court case with the potential to fatally cripple Obamacare than the law's namesake does, but he agrees with President Obama that the Court never should have heard the case.

"I believe the language is so very clear that they shouldn't have even taken the case up," Reid told National Journal.

The case in question, King v. Burwell, challenges the legality of subsidies offered on federal Obamacare exchanges. Brought by conservative opponents of the law, it threatens the tax credits of more than 6 million people in 34 states.

As both parties use the case to make larger points about the success or failure of Obamacare in the weeks leading up to the decision, Reid believes the law's war on words is already over.

"The message, we've won," he said. "Let's just hope the Supreme Court understands their obligation to the American people."

Reid lamented the possible fallout if the Court sides against the administration.

"It's clear that we have 6 or 7 million people who will lose their subsidies, and it would be such a disservice to them," Reid said. "And knowing that it throws the whole system out of kilter, if 17 million people who are part of this, it would endanger what we have getting the poorest of the poor on Medicaid—so it's awful if they turn this down."

At the same time, he has declined to speculate what should be done if the Court strikes down subsidies. To some extent, it might not matter how much Reid and the Senate Democrats have to say about King legislation. The Republican budget proposal used vague language to describe how reconciliation is to be used, and one possible use is to pass post-King legislation. That would mean only 51 senators would have to vote for a bill for it to head to the president's desk. But it would face an almost-certain veto.

While Reid hasn't publicly spoken on any of the Republican legislation put forth to deal with a King win, he did bring up one of the proposal's authors to make a point on the potential ensuing chaos.

"Even Ron Johnson, who has voted to repeal Obamacare so many times ... this morning he's impressing it would be bad if they didn't get their subsidies," Reid said.

Johnson has introduced legislation with 31 cosponsors that would extend Obamacare subsidies until 2017 and would also repeal the individual and employer mandates.

Last week, when asked about statements the president had just made on a one-sentence solution to subsidy invalidation and whether the Court should have heard the case, Reid had a short answer.

"I didn't make them," he said.

And last month, Reid gave a potential reason for his brevity: None of this is his problem.

"I don't think they will [win]," Reid said then. "If they do, that's a problem that the Republicans have."

Tuesday, Reid was still waiting.

"We're all just waiting to see what's going to happen. I believe something that is so clear that they're having trouble making a decision—for all we know, they already made it," he said Tuesday. "But we'll see what happens. But I'm waiting."