Patrick J Toomey

Senate GOP Looks to Kill Individual Mandate to Pay for More Tax Cuts

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, wants more individual tax cuts, but might object to killing the health insurance mandate to pay for them. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A growing chorus of Senate Republicans wants the bigger tax cuts for individuals and families in their tax overhaul, but the problem remains how to pay for it. And their leader says the biggest pot of money is in repealing the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. 

“We’re optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful and that’s obviously the view of the Senate Finance Committee Republicans as well,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday. 

Senate Tax Markup Will Be Spirited, but Don’t Expect Fireworks
Finance panel has more than 350 amendments to weigh over the next several days

Senate Finance ranking member Ron Wyden, left, and Chairman Orrin G. Hatch prepare to make opening statements during committee markup of the Republican tax bill Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday begins in earnest its markup of the Republican bill to overhaul the U.S. tax code.

Following opening statements Monday, the panel has more than 350 amendments to consider over the course of the next several days.

GOP Knocks Casey for Supporting Assault Weapons Ban
Casey is running for re-election in a state Trump narrowly won

Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., D-Pa., is co-sponsoring a bill banning assault weapons. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Bob Casey was the only Democrat in a competitive 2018 race to sign onto a bill banning assault weapons, and Republicans wasted no time criticizing the move. 

The Pennsylvania Democrat has evolved on gun control issues since he was first elected in 2006. And Republicans are accusing him of misleading Pennsylvania voters.

Senate Majority PAC Announces New Senior Staff
Group is focused on backing Senate Democrats

J.B. Poersch, president of the Senate Majority PAC, is welcoming several new senior staffers to his group. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The super PAC dedicated to helping Democrats win back the Senate is announcing several new senior staffers for the 2018 cycle, according to an announcement shared first with Roll Call.

J.B. Poersch, president and co-founder of the Senate Majority PAC, said in a statement that the group had assembled a “first-rate team” in the face of a “challenging Senate map.” Senate Democrats are defending 25 seats next year compared to the Republicans’ eight.

Bipartisan Tax Bill More Durable, GOP Says After White House Meeting
Toomey sees overlap, but Democrats show little enthusiasm

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, seated left, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, seated center, and Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, standing center, were among the Finance Committee members who met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday about a tax overhaul bill. Also pictured, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, standing right. (Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call File Photo)

After huddling Wednesday with President Donald Trump and a handful of Democrats, Senate Republican tax writers said an overhaul bill that secures bipartisan support would be more “durable” than a GOP-only path. 

Senate Republicans are moving ahead with plans to ensure a tax bill could pass with as few as 50 GOP votes, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. But after a White House meeting with Trump and five Senate Finance Committee Democrats, three GOP members on that panel said they agree with the president that a bipartisan bill is preferable.

Who Benefits From the State and Local Tax Deduction?
Roll Call analysis finds higher-income earners reap substantial returns from the deduction

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch is among the “Big Six” Republican tax negotiators. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Corrected on Nov. 15 | A fight within the Republican Party over a proposal to eliminate the state and local tax deduction threatens the future of the GOP effort to overhaul the U.S. tax code.

Battle lines have been drawn, as lawmakers from states that see substantial benefit from the deduction — such as New Jersey and New York — are already sounding alarms at the proposal to remove it. 

What Happens When Corker Lays Down His Foreign Relations Gavel?
Tennessee Republican leaves a committee far from what it used to be

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker is the first senator to announce his retirement this Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Neither Peyton Manning nor Reese Witherspoon is going to become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next year. Not Charlie Daniels, Dolly Parton or Samuel L. Jackson, either.

The most clear-cut reason is that none of those celebrity Tennesseans is likely to end up running to become a senator, much to the disappointment of Beltway insiders starved for glitzy, if harmless, political distractions in the Trump era and already enthralled by Kid Rock’s flirtation with a Senate run in Michigan.

Measuring the Odd Couples of the Senate
What happens when a state sends one Democrat and one Republican to the chamber?

Pennsylvania Sens. Patrick J. Toomey, left, a Republican, and Bob Casey, a Democrat,are the second most likely pair of same-state senators to cancel out each others votes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Several states have, by virtue of electing senators of opposite parties, virtually nullified their power in the Senate.

Senate Committee Advances Children’s Health Care Bill
Only Sen. Toomey spoke out against

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., emphasized the need to keep CHIP legislation bipartisan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday approved by voice vote its bipartisan bill to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Senators withheld amendments in an effort to speed up passage. During the voice vote, only Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., spoke out against the measure.

Gun Control Movement Turns to Campaigns
Sen. Chris Murphy says focus should be outside the Capitol

Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, at their news conference at the Capitol on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Gun control advocates quickly urged Congress to act after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. But the real fight may be on the campaign trail.

Many of them suggest that even after a gunman opened fire on thousands of concertgoers in Las Vegas on Sunday night — killing nearly 60 people and injuring more than 500 — it’s unlikely that the Republican-controlled House and Senate will act.