Judge Reed O'Connor, appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in 2007 by former President George W. Bush, ruled that the individual mandate is illegal and therefore the entire law is unconstitutional. He did not issue an injunction, however, and the law remains in place pending appeal.
Former President Barack Obama posted messages on social media encouraging Americans to enroll by Sunday's open enrollment deadline, despite the ruling.
"You might have heard about a federal court decision on a Republican lawsuit trying to strike down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety," Obama wrote on Facebook and then shared on Twitter. "That can be a scary thing to hear, particularly if you or someone you care about has a pre-existing condition. And that’s why it’s so important for you to know that last night’s ruling changes nothing for now. As this decision makes its way through the courts, which will take months, if not years, the law remains in place and will likely stay that way."
Durbin said that Democrats would be "happy" to sit down and talk about new health care legislation, but that "you have to look at the history," which is that the "president for two years has done everything in his power to put an end to the protections included."
Republicans in Congress are already facing a precarious political fight over government funding, which will expire on Dec. 21. Trump said last week that he would be "proud" to shut down the government over border wall funding.
Durbin said that the shutdown is "entirely in the hands of President Donald Trump, who bragged last week that this was his decision."
He added that Congress should be looking at other border issues and that a wall would do "virtually nothing" to stem drug trafficking, namely the influx of fentanyl. Durbin cited a Centers for Disease Control report released on Wednesday that said fentanyl has become the drug most associated with overdoses in the U.S.
"We could be scanning vehicles coming into the United States to see if they contain contraband, narcotics, firearms, even victims of human trafficking," he said.
He also said Democrats are trying to give the Department of Homeland Security what they need, including putting $1.3 billion on the table for "barriers," though he noted that the "barriers" are defined in such a way "so we aren’t building some medieval wall."
The Trump administration has asked for $5 billion in funding to construct a border wall, and Trump has continued threats to close the government just as investigations into his associates heated up.