Senate rule places GOP health bill on fast track
- Author: Larry Hoffman Jun 18, 2017,
Jun 18, 2017, 23:16
In a White House meeting, Trump welcomed indications by senior Republicans that the Senate might vote on a health care bill in July, before it breaks for the summer, after the House of Representatives passed its own version in May.
Acting as if he had not just been told what to say, Hatch, the longest-serving Republican Senator in USA history, told McCaskill, "I don't know if there's going to be another hearing but we've invited you to participate and give your ideas". Hatch replied he didn't know if there would be another hearing but "we've invited you to participate and your ideas".
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., flanked by Sen. The Senate's next week-long recess begins at the start of July. "Republicans are dead-set on getting to 50 votes so they can jam some version of Trumpcare through the Senate", Sen. Or the House or Senate get tax reform week.
Cornyn and Thune made their comments as they walked in and out of a late-afternoon meeting in McConnell's office that included other key GOP senators. A sticking point remains how to unwind the Medicaid expansion in Obama's law, since some states expanded Medicaid and some did not, and there are Republican senators representing states that did both.
That option would present numerous challenges for legislators, because Republicans would be severely limited in their tax-cut plans because of the rules for passing legislation via the reconciliation process, which is how budget bills make their way through Congress.
House GOP leaders say the Senate budget depends on unreliable financing and would lead to midyear cuts. It's unclear when a physical draft of the bill will be produced. But the broad outline discussed among members points to a slower phaseout of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion than the House bill entails and a shifting of tax credits from younger people to older people. But she added: "I'm not saying I support phasing it out".
Critics say the problem is aggravated by uncertainty over what Trump and Republicans intend to do. Some have openly doubted that the talks are leading anywhere positive. Hatch, after conferring with an aide, did not commit to a hearing but said Democrats were welcome to give ideas on the bill. Over the Memorial Day recess, Sen.
Sen. Shelly Capito, R-W.Va., called it a "good discussion with much more detail".
But now, with pressing budget deadlines looming and President Donald Trump eager to focus on tax legislation, Senate GOP leaders have decided it's time to vote and move on. Current funding runs out September 30, and many Republicans are hoping to enact spending cuts, which could complicate the process. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities took note of this Republican sabotage, noting, "By refusing to include a measure guaranteeing the continued payment of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) in the new fiscal year 2017 spending bill, the Administration and congressional Republican leaders have endangered health coverage for millions of Americans".
"Quietly, people are preparing for a lot of possible outcomes and how to deal with them", said one Republican in frequent communication with Republican senators and staff, who like other aides and allies interviewed for this story were granted anonymity to speak candidly.
McConnell is working with hardly any margin for error. Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate.
It's been more than a month since House Republicans muscled their own repeal bill to passage. "It is all being done with an eye to try to get it by with 50 votes and the vice president". Toomey argues that using the growth rate of medical care spending would lead to an unsustainable Medicaid program, so he advocates for tying Medicaid funding increases to the standard inflation rate instead.
Some Republican leaders sound much more like they are wishing that will happen than are counting on it. "I don't want to pull the rug out from under anyone", Johnson said, "but let's not leave the rug out there for a couple more years to have more people stand on the rug".