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”

GOP Health Care Bill Faces Perilous Path Forward

Congressional Republicans’ push to repeal and replace Obamacare is down but not out. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) surprised everyone yesterday, including his own caucus, when he called off an expected vote on the Senate GOP’s health care bill amid opposition from at least a half-dozen of his party colleagues. It’s an embarrassing about-face for the leader, who last week emphatically promised to pass the bill this week.

But think of the setback more as McConnell hitting the pause button than throwing in the towel. Congress is out next week for its annual Independence Day break, and he will use the time to tweak the bill in the hopes of wooing reluctant Republicans. He wants to hold a vote soon after Congress returns the second week of July. And if anyone can get this done, it’s McConnell, a master of Senate politics and parliamentary procedure. Continue reading “GOP Health Care Bill Faces Perilous Path Forward”

GOP winning streak continues in Georgia

The most expensive House race in history concluded last night in suburban Atlanta with Republican Karen Handel holding off Democrat Jon Ossoff in a race both parties were desperate to win.

It’s not surprising that Handel won the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District to replace former GOP Rep. Tom Price, who joined President Trump’s cabinet in February to head the Department of Health and Human Services. After all, this affluent district is a traditional Republican stronghold that Price easily won in November by 23 percentage points, and that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich held for 20 years. The district has been a Democratic graveyard since the Carter administration. Continue reading “GOP winning streak continues in Georgia”

Baseball Brings Temporary Relief to Partisan Polarization

Bipartisanship finally has triumphed in Washington, at least for a short while.

The Capitol Hill community came together Thursday evening in a genuine showing of Republican and Democratic unity at the annual congressional charity baseball game. The event typically serves as a fun time-out from the usual partisan rancor that engulfs the Capitol. But with Washington still reeling from a gunman’s vicious ambush on the GOP team as it practiced a day earlier, the contest served as a cathartic reminder that life is bigger than politics.  Continue reading “Baseball Brings Temporary Relief to Partisan Polarization”

Dodd-Frank Repeal DOA in Senate

Lost in the Beltway cacophony of Russia-related probes, health care measures and tax reform is the GOP’s call to kill the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Yet despite these efforts, Democrats’ legislative response to the financial crisis will largely remain in place.

A Republican bill that essentially would repeal and replace 2010’s Dodd-Frank Act easily passed the House today along a near-party line vote. But it won’t survive the Senate in its original—or likely any—form. Continue reading “Dodd-Frank Repeal DOA in Senate”

Surprise Comey Firing Roils Capitol Hill

President Trump blindsided Washington once again this week, this time with his shock firing of FBI Director James Comey. On Capitol Hill, the move infuriated Democrats and frustrated Republicans, who are growing weary of being left in the dark by a White House often disconnected from, and sometimes disdainful of, the legislative branch.

The Comey sideshow is poised to further slow a Congress already gridlocked by partisan rancor. And as it faces a full plate of major agenda items—such as a health-care overhaul, tax reform, appropriations bills and a looming debt ceiling—Republicans can ill afford another distraction.
Continue reading “Surprise Comey Firing Roils Capitol Hill”

Health Care Bill Faces Uncertainty in the Senate

House Republicans today rushed through passage of legislation that calls for repealing and replacing key parts of Obamacare, with the 217-213 vote coming largely along party lines. But the issue is far from resolved.

Expect the bill to undergo major changes in the Senate, where some Republicans believe it’s too harsh. One provision likely to be stripped out is a ban on federal payments to Planned Parenthood, which was pushed for by anti-abortion House Republicans. Continue reading “Health Care Bill Faces Uncertainty in the Senate”

Trump’s Tax Reform Plan Faces Tough Challenges

Capitol Hill Republicans have greeted President Trump’s tax reform outline with a mix of lukewarm praise and restrained concern, suggesting that one of the administration’s signature agenda items is no slam dunk.

The tepid response doesn’t necessarily doom the proposal, which is extremely light on details. But it does mean that the White House has plenty of work ahead selling – and likely rewriting – the plan in order to win over enough Republican votes. Continue reading “Trump’s Tax Reform Plan Faces Tough Challenges”

Government Shutdown Will Be Averted

Congress will approve a must-pass spending bill in time to avoid a government shutdown next week, but not before some last-minute histrionics spurred on by the White House.

Federal agencies will run out of operating funds next Friday at midnight, so the massive spending bill is needed to keep them open through September, when the fiscal year ends. But President Trump wants to tack on several of his agenda items, such as money for the proposed Mexican border wall, a ban on federal grants to so-called sanctuary cities, which shield illegal immigrants from deportation, and possibly a defunding of Planned Parenthood. Continue reading “Government Shutdown Will Be Averted”

Senate Rule Change for Gorsuch: A Harbinger of Things to Come?

Today’s confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court gave President Trump his biggest victory since his inauguration. But the action has a much broader impact, as it potentially sets up a monumental change in the way the Senate does business.

By invoking the “nuclear option,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) changed Senate rules and barred the use of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations, meaning that confirmation now is achieved with a simple majority in the 100-seat chamber instead of 60 votes. Gorsuch was confirmed by a vote of 54 to 45, with three Democrats crossing the aisle and one Republican who missed the vote due to illness. Continue reading “Senate Rule Change for Gorsuch: A Harbinger of Things to Come?”