HONOLULU — President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers will strategize next week about how to prevent Republicans from destroying “Obamacare.” The president also plans to give a major valedictory speech next month in Chicago, his hometown, 10 days before his presidency ends.
Obama will travel to the Capitol on Wednesday morning for the meeting with House and Senate Democrats, according to an invitation sent to lawmakers. The White House cast the meeting as an effort to unite Democrats behind a plan to protect the law, known as the Affordable Care Act, before Republicans have a chance to settle on their own strategy for repealing it.
Democrats are on edge over the future of the law, Obama’s signature legislative achievement, given the GOP’s disdain for it and President-elect Donald Trump’s vows to gut it. Though Republicans are united behind the notion of repealing the law, they’re split over how best to replace it. Some want to strip out unpopular provisions while leaving others intact, while other Republicans prefer a start-from-scratch approach.
It’s that lack of unanimity among Republicans that Obama and Democrats hope can be exploited, if they can lay the groundwork even before Trump takes office. To that end, Obama also planned to answer questions about Obamacare on next Friday during a livestreamed event at Blair House, just across Pennsylvania Ave. from the White House.
Blair House, the historic government guest house, is traditionally inhabited by incoming presidents in the days before they’re inaugurated, making it a particularly poignant place for Obama to push back on Trump’s plans for his health law.
The Obamacare push will likely be one of the president’s final efforts to influence the direction of U.S. policy before he leaves office on Jan. 20. Already, the White House is starting to ramp down operations, with Obama aides set to start “offloading” after New Year’s as Trump’s team prepares to take over.
Obama’s speech in Chicago on Jan. 10 is expected to serve as his closing words to the nation as president. His appearance will be open to the public and followed by a “family reunion” for alumni of Obama’s former campaigns, according to a save-the-date notice sent to Obama alumni and obtained by The Associated Press.
The White House has not confirmed Obama’s speech or trip to Chicago.