Democratic Win Inadvertently Helps Republican ‘Wildcards’ Gain Clout

Republicans’ loss in this week’s special election in Alabama strengthens the hands of a cadre of independent-minded Senate GOPers.

Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Arizona’s Jeff Flake and John McCain, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Maine, Tennessee’s Bob Corker and occasionally others have used the GOP’s tenuous 52-48 majority to their advantage, threatening to hold up major legislation unless they get certain concessions. Continue reading “Democratic Win Inadvertently Helps Republican ‘Wildcards’ Gain Clout”

GOP Optimism Grows For Tax Bill

There is growing likelihood on Capitol Hill that the Senate will pass its version of the Republican tax reform package this week, as party leaders offer changes in a scramble to win over a half-dozen holdouts.

It’s still difficult to predict the outcome with certainty, as ongoing horse trading is changing the dynamics of the tax reform landscape by the hour. But the belief among Senate Republicans that they’ll get the necessary votes for passage is much stronger than it was yesterday. Continue reading “GOP Optimism Grows For Tax Bill”

Consumer Watchdog Down But Not Out

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is set to lose some of its potency. Although Republicans—who have opposed the agency since its inception—will succeed in extracting some of its teeth, the GOP won’t be able to totally defang it.

Now that CFPB Director Richard Cordray is stepping down at the end of the month, President Trump, a critic of the consumer watchdog, is free to nominate a more business-friendly replacement. The administration also will work with congressional Republicans, many of whom want to dismantle the agency, to revamp its structure and refocus its mission. Continue reading “Consumer Watchdog Down But Not Out”

Sizing Up The GOP Tax Plans

Congressional Republicans’ push to overhaul the tax code is centered around two basic principles: Providing corporations with a big tax cut while helping average Americans. But like almost every major issue lawmakers tackle, competing House and Senate bills aimed at achieving these goals aren’t as simple or clear-cut as their authors want the public to believe.

Independent analyses of the tax plans undercut the GOP’s rosy predictions for how much middle-income earners would benefit (especially the House version). Although Senate Republicans’ measure is akin to the one House Republicans are preparing to approve this week, they take significantly divergent paths. If both bills pass intact, Republicans will have to broker a compromise among themselves to advance final legislation to President Trump’s desk. Such an endeavor would be messy and contentious, with success far from guaranteed. Continue reading “Sizing Up The GOP Tax Plans”

GOPer Roy Moore Is Trouble For Party Establishment

Republican firebrand Roy Moore’s easy victory in this week’s Alabama Senate primary runoff against appointed Sen. Luther Strange sent a chill down the spine of the party establishment. And the takeaway for Capitol Hill Republicans was crystal clear: Deliver on key campaign promises, such as repealing Obamacare, or face swift intra-party ouster—no matter how much money or how many high-profile endorsements you’ve pocketed.

The controversial, former state Supreme Court chief justice’s victory was a rebuke of the GOP-controlled Congress and its inability to advance the party’s agenda since winning control of the White House and Congress. Despite endorsements from President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and receiving hefty campaign donations as a result, Strange could muster no better than a 9-percentage point loss. Continue reading “GOPer Roy Moore Is Trouble For Party Establishment”

GOP Health Care Overhaul Down But not Out

Republicans are fully focused on overhauling the tax code after yet another attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act flopped in the Senate this week. But that doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned hope of dismantling President Obama’s signature domestic program. Far from it.

Senate GOPers say that despite their embarrassing failure to do away with Obamacare, they’re within striking distance of drafting a plan their entire 52-member conference can support—a claim President Trump made repeatedly Wednesday. They vow that as soon as they approve a tax reform package (though that endeavor will take months, or longer, and could also end in failure), they’ll immediately pivot back to health care. Continue reading “GOP Health Care Overhaul Down But not Out”

Florida tourism will bounce back from Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma punched Florida hard, but she failed to deliver a knockout blow to the state’s top industry – tourism.

The Sunshine State’s most popular tourist destinations, including Orlando-area theme parks and coastal beaches, are fine, as are most hotels and resorts. The mega storm hit during one of Florida’s slowest tourism periods, buying precious time to rebuild ahead of the busy winter season. Continue reading “Florida tourism will bounce back from Hurricane Irma”

Flood Insurance Program Will Swell But Not Breach

Congress will reauthorize and revamp the National Flood Insurance Program before it expires at the end of September. Lawmakers are in no mood to let the program lapse in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. What’s less certain is just how extensive those reforms will be.

The 49-year-old Federal Emergency Management Agency program enables property owners in flood-prone areas to purchase flood insurance that is administered and backed by the federal government. Local governments must adopt and enforce floodplain management plans for their communities to be eligible. Continue reading “Flood Insurance Program Will Swell But Not Breach”

2018 elections could become a GOP family feud

Look for Republican incumbents on Capitol Hill to face a wave of primary challengers in 2018 if by year’s end they cannot deliver two key campaign promises: Obamacare repeal and tax reform.

It’s very early in the election cycle so many potential challengers are waiting to see how 2017 ends. There’s time for congressional Republicans to mitigate their legislative shortcomings, but the clock is ticking. Continue reading “2018 elections could become a GOP family feud”

Senate Republicans Double Down on Health Care Reform

Senate Republicans are no closer to reaching consensus on a health care bill than they were before they broke for the Fourth of July recess 13 days ago. However, they’re still plugging away, determined to get this done one way or another.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that he will release a revised package Thursday morning and hinted at a possible floor vote next week. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is expected to analyze the plan’s fiscal impact sometime early next week. But eye McConnell’s renewed push warily. Continue reading “Senate Republicans Double Down on Health Care Reform”