Republican Senators Strive for Unity on Health Care Bill

After coming within one vote of total failure today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was able to rally Republicans to at least allow a floor debate over altering the Affordable Care Act. Until ailing Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced late yesterday he would return to Washington sooner than expected, after being diagnosed with brain cancer, to participate in the procedural vote, it looked like the Senate would break for August recess without even considering some sort of GOP Obamacare repeal or replacement plan.

But even though the one-time Republican presidential nominee provided McConnell the much-needed momentum that for months had eluded him, it is entirely unclear whether enough support exists to get any sort of repeal bill through the Senate, let alone a comprehensive package. Continue reading “Republican Senators Strive for Unity on Health Care Bill”

After Health Care, Congressional Republicans Pivot to Tax Reform

While Senate Republicans torpedo the GOP’s latest attempt at unraveling President Obama’s signature health care law, House Republican budget writers are trying to keep the party on track to deliver its other top agenda item: Tax reform.

House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane Black (R-TN) yesterday unveiled her first fiscal blueprint as head of the panel once led by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). In addition to spelling out the party’s spending priorities, Republicans plan to use the budget resolution as a vehicle for overhauling the tax code. Senate Republicans can advance legislation on simple-majority votes — and avoid potential Democratic filibusters — only if they use the procedural workaround known as budget reconciliation. And they need an approved budget resolution before they can invoke reconciliation to pass a tax bill. Continue reading “After Health Care, Congressional Republicans Pivot to Tax Reform”

From Russia With Love: New Revelations Once Again Put White House on the Defensive

Russia has historically been the downfall of many promising political careers.  Napoleon was on a roll until he decided to invade the country in 1812, when a brutal Russian winter froze his formidable army in its tracks. In America after World War II, the Red Scare ensnared many prominent figures who had once had Soviet sympathies, most notably Alger Hiss, a well-respected diplomat who was tried as a Russian spy (and eventually convicted of perjury).

Donald Trump may be next. No matter how hard the president tries, he can’t seem to shake allegations that members of his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.  

Continue reading “From Russia With Love: New Revelations Once Again Put White House on the Defensive”

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”

Supreme Court Gives Trump’s Travel Ban a Boost

President Trump’s travel ban is once again the law of the land—at least for now. The Supreme Court decided Monday to reinstate certain parts of the president’s controversial executive order, pending a full review by the justices this fall.

In a unanimous opinion, the high court struck down two lower court orders that put a hold on the travel restrictions, freeing the Trump administration to impose a freeze on new visas from six Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) for 90 days.            

Continue reading “Supreme Court Gives Trump’s Travel Ban a Boost”

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”

What Does Special Counsel Mean for Trump’s Political Fortunes?

Washington today feels like London during the blitz: Every day brings a new bombshell about President Donald Trump’s apparent efforts to derail an FBI investigation into his campaign’s alleged Russian ties.

The latest: A special counsel. The Justice Department Wednesday appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the bureau’s probe following Trump’s decision to fire Director James Comey earlier this month. Continue reading “What Does Special Counsel Mean for Trump’s Political Fortunes?”