Tim Kaine weighs in on Obamacare, Sessions and Tillerson

Sen. Tim Kaine on Tuesday called on Republicans to join Democrats in improving Obamacare and he also discussed his concerns with Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson.

The former vice presidential nominee and Virginia Democrat spoke to “CBS This Morning” after a long night of speeches Senate Democrats delivered on the Senate floor defending Obamacare and listing the repercussions of repealing the law.

“We’re trying to get them to slow down and join us around the table to talk about, we would call it reforms and Republicans can call it a replacement. But the key is let’s make it better. Let’s fix it, not break it,” Kaine said.

If Republicans dismantle the law without a replacement plan, Kaine said that 30 million people could lose their health insurance, which he said amounts to “a combined population of 19 states.”

Kaine said that Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, will highlight Sessions’ record on civil rights at his confirmation hearing Tuesday and he said he also expects questions on the use of torture.

“On the Armed Services, on which I sit with Sen. Sessions, we’ve had a number of bipartisan votes over recent years to clarify that the United States will not engage in torture, whether in the Army or intelligence agencies,” he said. “Jeff Sessions is [among] the small number of senators who repeatedly voted against torture bans that are otherwise bipartisan. And I suspect that you’re going to see that as a significant source of questioning in the hearing today.”

Kaine, who will grill Tillerson at his confirmation hearing Wednesday, said he has questions regarding his relationship with the Russian government and Vladimir Putin. He said he also has concerns about what Tillerson might know about ExxonMobil funding organizations that Kaine said “tried to muddy up or denied the reality of climate science.”

“ExxonMobil is an organization filled with scientists and engineers. And from what I’ve read, they understood long ago, decades, that humans were affecting climate in ways that could be dangerous,” he said. “But the allegation is that they then made a decision to cover that evidence up, as long as they could, for their own financial benefit. And I want to explore what Mr. Tillerson knows about that.”

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.