Nebraska

With Divided Congress, Health Care Action Hightails It to the States
Medicaid expansion was the biggest winner in last week’s elections

As health care debates raged over the last few years, Congress was smack dab in the middle. After Tuesday’s elections, most of the action moves to the states. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Newly-elected leaders in the states will be in a stronger position than those in Washington to steer significant shifts in health care policy over the next couple of years as a divided Congress struggles with gridlock.

State Medicaid work requirements, prescription drug prices, insurance exchanges and short-term health plans are among the areas with the potential for substantial change. Some states with new Democratic leaders may also withdraw from a multistate lawsuit aimed at killing the 2010 health care law or look for ways to curb Trump administration policies.

Tim Kaine’s Policy Agenda For a Divided Congress
Former governor, veep candidate sees opportunities for cooperation

Sen. Tim Kaine says infrastructure and health care could be two policy areas ripe for bipartisanship in a divided Congress. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One day after the election, Virginia’s newly re-election Sen. Tim Kaine was ready to talk policy and where he thinks that Republicans and Democrats could rally to move forward in a divided Congress.

He said that for the first time in a while, there could be common ground on health care, and he singled our for praise the bipartisan opioids bill that was signed into law last month.

Feud Over Professor’s Facebook ‘Like’ Prompts Complaint Against Fortenberry Chief of Staff
Staffer not amused by ‘Fartenberry’ prank

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., participates in the news conference on a bill to repeal certain provisions on the Affordable Care Act in 2012. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ethics Committee received a complaint this week about the chief of staff of Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. The staffer has hounded a political science professor in recent days for liking a Facebook post mocking Fortenberry, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

The Facebook post shows a photo of a manipulated campaign sign. Vandals added googly eyes to the congressman’s photo and changed the wording to read, “Jeff Fartenberry: Strong Families, Strong Communities, Strong Odor.”

Ben Sasse Doubts Donald Trump will Face a Real GOP Challenge in 2020
Says he will discuss possible 2020 Nebraska Senate re-election campaign next summer

Sen. Ben Sasse does not expect a serious GOP challenger to President Donald Trump for 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Ben Sasse, who has at times criticized the style and substance of President Donald Trump, said Wednesday it was unlikely the president would face a strong primary challenger in 2020.

The Republican senator from Nebraska said that was because Trump, “has captured the majority of the Republican Party over the course of the last two-and-a-half years. The Republican Party electorate is pretty comfortable with the ‘anti’ positions that President Trump takes on a lot of issues.”

Ethanol Lobbying Is Up, and It Seems to Be Paying Off
Biofuels groups are spending more this year, and they may soon have summer E15 to show for it

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, holds an ear of corn in 2008. As industry groups have lobbied the Trump administration to rethink the Renewable Fuel Standard, lawmakers in the corn belt have applied pressure too. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Biofuel groups upped their spending on lobbying this year as they pressured lawmakers and the Trump administration on issues related to the Renewable Fuel Standard, which sets minimum volumes of biofuels to be used to power cars and trucks.

Some of those efforts appear to be paying off for now, as the Trump administration has proposed to allow year-round sales of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, or E15, which is currently prohibited between June and September. The EPA had argued previously that E15 contributes more to summer smog than the more commonly sold gasoline with 10 percent ethanol.

November Elections Bring High Stakes for Medicaid
From expansion to work requirements, the future of the program hangs in the balance

What voters do at the polls Nov. 6 will shape access to Medicare in several states. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The midterm elections could bring sweeping changes to Medicaid, from possible eligibility expansions to new rules requiring low-income people to work, depending on voters’ choices for governors’ offices and state legislatures across the country.

Medicaid covers more people than any other federally funded health program.

Even Without Democrats, Trump Judicial Nominee Gets Some Tough Questions
Sen. John Kennedy asked about Allison Jones Rushing’s experience for appeals court

Allison Jones Rushing, nominee to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit, testified Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t make the trip back to Capitol Hill to question one of President Donald Trump’s federal appellate picks Wednesday.

But that doesn’t mean she got away without some tough questions.

NewDemPAC Helps Candidates Navigate Trump, Raise Money
Political arm of New Democrat Coalition has endorsed 38 recruits

NewDemPAC has endorsed Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger, who’s challenging GOP Rep. Dave Brat in the 7th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With 38 endorsed candidates, the political arm of the moderate New Democrat Coalition is hoping to play a significant role helping Democrats win the House majority next month, and in doing so, grow their own business-friendly caucus. 

The coalition’s political action committee, founded in 2005, got involved in races earlier than ever before this cycle — at times choosing favorites in competitive primaries. It also hired a political director for the first time and has been able to help raise more than $2 million for candidates from members and donors.

Democratic PAC Pulls Spending From Top Nebraska Pickup Opportunity
Money now going to support Iowa Democrat Cindy Axne

Nebraska Democrat Kara Eastman is challenging GOP Rep. Don Bacon in the 2nd District. (Courtesy Kara Eastman for Congress)

A super PAC tied to House Democratic leadership has pulled its television advertising funding from a competitive Nebraska district, a spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

The money the House Majority PAC had committed to Democrat Kara Eastman’s bid to unseat freshman GOP Rep. Don Bacon in the Omaha-area 2nd District will now go to support Cindy Axne in Iowa’s 3rd, the spokesman said. Election forecasters see that race as a slightly better pickup opportunity for Democrats. 

Stick With Senate Farm Bill or Extend Existing Law, Groups Say
Agriculture committee staffers in both chambers continue to work on compromise

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., helped push through their farm bill that passed the chamber on an 86-11 vote. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Unless key farm bill negotiators use the Senate version as the template for a new bill, an extension of the now expired 2014 farm law would be better than using the House farm bill as the basis for a conference report, representatives from nutrition, environmental, small farmer and food policy groups said Monday.

At a briefing, the organizations said the House and Senate farm bills differ sharply in important areas. While they want a new bill to replace the farm law that expired Sept. 30, the organizations say they represent a broad coalition that would oppose a bill based on the House farm bill version, which calls for changes, including to farm payments and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.