Charles E Grassley

Alexander, Murray outline plan to lower health costs
Alexander he hopes it will get a committee mark up next month and the Senate will debate a bill in July

Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and ranking member Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., conduct a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled "Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?" on March 5, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two influential senators released draft health care legislation Thursday, a package of narrowly tailored proposals that will likely be part of a measure to lower health care costs that lawmakers hope to pass this year.

The draft bill, from Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and ranking member Patty Murray, D-Wash., targets five areas: banning surprise medical bills; speeding low-cost generic drugs to market; increasing transparency; improving public health; and enhancing health information technology, according to a summary.

Retirement savings bill seeks small business buy-in
Bipartisan momentum for change comes as retirement crisis looms

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal’s retirement savings bill would create incentives for businesses to provide access to workplace savings plans for some of the most underserved groups. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House on Thursday will take up what could be the most significant changes in retirement savings policy in more than a decade.

But the bill’s backers acknowledge it’s just an initial step in addressing what critics call a huge hole in Americans’ nest eggs, at a time when traditional pension plans are increasingly rare and Social Security is facing financial headwinds.

Trump‘s car import move is getting panned
The decision to set an 180-day clock ticking on possible trade action has drawn criticism from industry, lawmakers and the EU

Brand new cars sit on a truck that is leaving a lot at the Auto Warehousing Company near the Port of Richmond on May 24, 2018 in Richmond, California. U.S. president Donald Trump has set a clock on possible trade action or tariffs against car imports from Japan and Europe. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The White House announcement Friday that President Donald Trump has set a 180-day clock ticking on possible trade action against imports of cars and car parts from Japan and Europe brought strong pushback from the private sector.

The president’s implied threat to use Section 232 authorities to impose tariffs or other trade measures if negotiations to limit imports are not successful cited national security and, in particular, the need to protect research and development by U.S. automakers.

Grassley, Wyden want to end uncertainty over temporary tax breaks
Five task forces charged with coming up with solutions for so-called tax extenders

Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, right, and ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are seen at a hearing in February. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley announced the creation of five task forces charged with delving into what to do about 42 myriad tax breaks that continually get turned on and off by Congress, ranging from an incentive to sell cleaner-burning biodiesel fuel for trucks to a deduction for mortgage insurance premiums.

The joint announcement by the Iowa Republican and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, the committee’s ranking member, comes 16 and a half months after 26 tax “extenders” expired at the end of 2017. Grassley said the task force is charged with coming up with solutions by the end of June, including whether to consolidate or change certain provisions, make them permanent or allow them to lapse.

House vote combining drug, health law bills irks Republicans
Combining the two bills sets up a political minefield for Republicans who are torn between the two issues

Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., center, Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, right, and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., are seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building. The House is set to vote Thursday on legislation meant to lower prescription drug prices and strengthen “Obamacare” health insurance exchanges. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House is set to vote Thursday on legislation meant to lower prescription drug prices and strengthen the individual health insurance exchanges, setting up a political minefield for Republicans who are torn between the two issues.

Democratic leaders’ decision to combine legislation that would make it easier to bring generic drugs to market with bills that would bolster the 2010 health care law does not damage the prospects of passage for the package of bills. But that does make it certain that most Republicans will vote against the bipartisan drug pricing legislation.

Sources: Swagel to replace Hall as CBO director
Senate Budget Chairman Enzi expected to announce appointment later this week

CBO Director Keith Hall, right, was said to be interested in serving another term, but Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi opted to go in a different direction. He’s expected to name Phillip L. Swagel as Hall’s successor later this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate and House budget leaders have chosen Phillip L. Swagel, a University of Maryland economist and former Treasury official in the George W. Bush administration, as the next director of the Congressional Budget Office, according to several sources with knowledge of the discussions.

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi spearheaded the selection and is expected to announce the appointment later this week.

3 things to watch when Trump, GOP senators discuss immigration
Jared Kushner has been WH point person — but Stephen Miller has been Trump’s voice

Sens. David Perdue, R-Ga., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., will meet with President Donald Trump on Tuesday to discuss immigration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Perhaps sensing momentum in the post-Mueller report realm, President Donald Trump has summoned a group of Senate Republicans to the White House to talk about overhauling the immigration system.

A small group of GOP senators will meet Tuesday afternoon with Trump and senior White House aides to hear details of a plan administration officials have been cobbling together. Presidential son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner has been the point person in crafting the proposal.

Iowa's David Young wants a rematch against Cindy Axne
Republican seeks comeback after bid for third term failed by 2 points last fall

Former Rep. David Young has announced a big for his old seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Iowa Rep. David Young is back for a rematch in Iowa’s 3rd District, which he lost to Democrat Cindy Axne by 2 points in 2018. 

“The policies advocated by Cindy Axne and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in this current Congress are harming Iowa’s families by hurting our economy and rights,” Young said in a statement Monday evening. “Iowans deserve better from their current representative.” 

Jeff Sessions, Doug Jones ring in happy birthday for Richard Shelby

A bipartisan group of senators, and one prominent ex-senator, wished Richard Shelby a happy birthday on Monday. (Jennifer Shutt/CQ Roll Call)

The hallways outside the Senate Appropriations Committee filled with the Happy Birthday song Monday afternoon as dozens of senators and staff gathered to wish Chairman Richard C. Shelby a happy 85th birthday.

The closed-door event included coconut cake, champagne and red napkins that read “Happy Birthday Senator Richard Shelby!”

Senate vote upholds Trump veto of Yemen resolution
The vote didn't reach the two-thirds majority needed to overturn President Donald Trump’s veto last month

Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, center, Tim Scott, R-S.C., left, and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, conduct a news conference in the Capitol on December 19, 2018. Lee was one of several lawmakers who gave impassioned pleas to override a veto by President Donald Trump on a resolution to end U.S. military participation in the Yemen civil war. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate on Thursday voted to uphold a presidential veto of a resolution that would have ordered an end to U.S. military participation in the civil war in Yemen.

The vote came despite impassioned bipartisan pleas from lawmakers like Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who argued Saudi Arabia does not deserve “unflinching, unwavering, unquestioning” U.S. support for its involvement in the war.