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Gillibrand speaks out on Charleston shooting and upcoming Supreme Court ruling

Tom Magnarelli
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in Syracuse on Monday.

Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, and other Republican lawmakers in the state are calling for the confederate flag to be removed from the state capitol. The decision was made after the recent tragedy in Charleston where nine people were killed in an apparently race-motivated shooting in an historic black church.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), speaking in Syracuse Monday, said a national conversation about the inspiration of the attack and the meaning of the confederate flag is needed.

“We also have a role obviously in common sense gun reform," Gillibrand said. "Whether it could have impacted this crime or not is not really the issue. We have far too much gun death in this county that is created by lax rules on criminals; people who should never have access to weapons, terrorists. We can do more.”

The debate on whether the confederate flag should be flown at the capitol has been a controversial one for years in South Carolina. It has been raised again because the alleged shooter at the church had the flag on his car, and is in photos on the internet posing with the flag.

Optimistic on Obamacare

The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision in the next week that will affect millions of people who have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. At stake is whether those people who live in states that let the federal government setup healthcare exchanges, are entitled to subsidies. Gillibrand said the Supreme Court has had previous opportunities to unwind the healthcare law and did not.

“I'm optimistic that they will rule in our favor," Gillibrand said. "If they don't, we will work hard to find a way for perhaps states to be able to open up their exchanges to other states. That might be a way to solve the problem, consistent with legislation.”

The lawsuit, King v. Burwell, is focused on one phrase written into the law that grants subsidies only to states that setup and run their own healthcare exchanges, such as New York.