for the week ending June 30, 2017
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Congress begins the July 4th week break and will be back on July 10th
Clearly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) does not have the votes to pass his Better Care Reconciliation Act, the replacement for the House-passed American healthcare Act which was the replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
Trump and Senate Republicans favoring the Senate bill continue to say that Obamacare is collapsing but it is the Houses American Healthcare Act that has collapsed since it has no future in the Senate.
McConnell’s bill, though, will be revisited when Congress returns from the July 4th break on the tenth with the idea enough dissenting Republicans will change their mines and vote for the bill before the five week August break begins on July 30th. He has to claw back support from 7 of the 9 Senators pledging not to vote for the bill. (More about this on our Editorial page.)
McConnell and staff are making revisions to the bill and will then send it to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring with the hope of ending up with a bill that does not violate Senate budget guidelines and can be debated as soon as Congress reconvenes after the July 4th break.
As was the case with the original bill the changes are being kept under wraps but various sources speculate on the changes and it is not hard to see what they might be due to the media coverage of Senators opposed to the bill; more generosity to Medicaid or, at least slowing the time frame for the cuts, increasing funds to healthcare accounts Americans can use to help pay for care, increasing tax credits Americans would receive to cover their healthcare expenditures, and perhaps not cutting the investors tax that came with the Affordable Care Act.
Based on the current numbers McConnell will have nearly $200 billion with which to negotiate demands from Republicans holding back their votes.
While the drama over healthcare dissipates in the Senate the House took up and passed HR 3003 which cuts off various funds to cities known as sanctuary cities because they do not necessarily go along with federal regulations regarding undocumented immigrants. The bill makes it clear that any municipality or state that does not adhere to federal law may will lose grants under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the ‘Cops on the Beat’ program, or the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, or any other grant administered by the Department of Justice or the Department of Homeland Security that is substantially related to law enforcement, terrorism, national security, immigration, or naturalization. The funds would be cut off for a year and replenished if compliance is still not met. Any funds not distributed would go to States and municipalities who do comply.
The House also wrangled over HR 1215 that, essentially revives Republican efforts to impose tort reform regarding malpractice claims limiting payouts and setting higher standards to determine that the injury was the result of malpractice. The first effort Republicans made to instill this type of calculation was in the earlier 2000’s when several companies were facing thousands of suits from workers with mesothelioma after workforce exposure to asbestos. In that case the contention centered on Haliburton that had bought an asbestos mining company in Montana when Haliburton was CEO’d by Dick Cheney who divested himself of that position before becoming vice president. At least one proposed amendment to change the Affordable Care Act proposed similar tort reform. The bill is not likely to gain favor in the Senate.
Those investigations –
Another week of limited information on the four congressional investigations into the Russian hacking during the 2016 elections, potential collusion between Russia or Russian actors and the Trump campaign, and the source of leaks of possibly classified information that led to the investigations. The later being something of a side agenda to the House Intelligence Committee investigation.
The docket clear for the big healthcare debate this week, the Senate, in the absence of the debate was mainly concerned with various military appointments.
The House, where the above sanctuary city bill was debated, also passed HR 3004 which gets specific on prison time a previously deported alien would get if he or she reentered the US.
Other House bills aim to increase the opportunities for veterans to become truckers or heavy equipment operators, makes some revisions to how the US Coast Guard operates,
ISIS in the US / Syria / Chemical Weapons
Magic Mondays (Video)
Political educations (Video)
The Senate and House are adjourning and will return to work on Monday, July 10th. The next edition of TheWeekinCongress.com will be published Thursday Evening July 13, 2017.
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