South Dakota

Senate Health Care Discussions Continue as Agenda Stalls
Numerous revisions to the GOP health bill under consideration

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is seeing his legislative plate pile up, while health care discussions continue. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans, in the aftermath of a major setback Tuesday, are weighing a swath of changes to legislation to overhaul the U.S. health insurance system, as the rest of their agenda piles up and deadlines near. 

The current plan, according to GOP lawmakers, aides and health care lobbyists, is for the conference to try to come to an agreement by Friday on a new draft of the bill to repeal and replace portions of the 2010 health care law. That would give the Congressional Budget Office time to analyze the revisions and let the GOP conference start preparing to vote on the measure when lawmakers return from the July Fourth recess.

Podcast: McConnell's Health Care Seesaw
The Big Story, Episode 59

From left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., after announcing there would be no vote on the health care bill this week. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate majority leader hasn’t abandoned hope of finding 50 votes for the year’s top GOP priority. But postponement over the July Fourth break won’t make it easier to bridge the gap between those focused on Obamacare’s repeal and those worried about too stingy a replacement, Roll Call's Niels Lesniewski and David Hawkings explain.

Show Notes:

Hatch Promises Open Process for Senate Tax Bill
Utah senator says all Finance panel Republicans will be involved

Senate Finance Chairman Chairman Orrin G. Hatch says his panel’s tax overhaul efforts will not be a “secretive exercise.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Opinion: Let the Senate Be the Senate Again
The alternative: Taking the road to irrelevance

From left, Sen. John Barrasso, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. John Thune conclude a news conference after McConnell announced there would be no vote on the health care bill this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

I have a question for the senators trying to decide whether to vote for the Obamacare repeal bill when it comes up in the Senate:

Did you really fly 1,000 miles in coach for this?

CBO Score Makes GOP Health Care Slog Harder
Growing number of senators oppose bringing current bill to floor

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to vote on a health care measure by the end of the week has been complicated by a Congressional Budget Office score that estimated millions would lose their health insurance under the measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to pass a massive overhaul of the U.S. health insurance system that has virtually no support outside of Congress and the White House became even more difficult after the release of a damaging analysis of the legislation from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

And now, with several Republican members voicing opposition to the current proposal, even a vote on a procedural motion to start consideration of the legislation appears destined to fail.

The Senate at a Deliberative Crossroads
Health care debacle challenges unique traditions, process

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune highlighted bipartisan work ongoing at the Commerce Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The release of the Senate Republicans’ draft health care measure, coming on the heels of the demise of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, provoked a spasm of hard feelings in the chamber and questions about whether senators could restore its now-quaint reputation as the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. 

“This is not the role model in my world, but I also understand that when the Democrats say, ‘We’re not going to vote for anything,’ that limits the options,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican. “But, I would love to see a Senate that functions, in which all hundred senators have the opportunity to present ideas, amendments and take votes.”

Senate Obamacare Repeal Bill Largely an Entitlement Overhaul
Proposal would maintain key aspects of the 2010 health care law

From left, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso conduct a news conference after the Senate policy luncheons in the Capitol last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A draft of the Senate counterpart legislation to overhaul the U.S. health insurance system unveiled Thursday would make drastic changes to the Medicaid program, but largely retain the existing federal tax credit structure from the 2010 health care law that helps individuals afford insurance, among other provisions. 

The proposal is part of the Republicans’ seven-year effort to gut former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. Senate GOP leadership, which has crafted the bill largely behind closed doors with virtually no public input, has faced difficulty in bridging the gap between moderate and conservative demands.

Rural Areas Brace for Health Care Bill Impact
Senate GOP bill could undermine health insurance coverage

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is concerned her state's residents could lose out on health insurance safeguards. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate historically has paid special attention to the needs of rural areas, but as the chamber readies its health care bill, there are concerns that the bill would undermine coverage in those places more than anywhere else.

While the exact text of the Senate bill is not yet posted publicly, all signs point to somewhat similar language to the House bill (HR 1628), which would reduce funding for Medicaid compared to current law and impose caps on Medicaid funding. Under the House bill, older people also would face higher premiums — and rural areas tend to be home to a large number of older Americans.

McHenry, Scalise’s Deputy, Steps Up to Run GOP Whip Operation
A temporary but open-ended promotion

Megan Bel Miller, chief of staff for the personal office of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., takes a selfie with Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C., during a blood drive in the foyer of Rayburn Building on June 20, 2017. The drive was held to honor those injured in last week's shooting at the Republican team practice in Alexandria. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As members flew back to town for the first time since the baseball practice shooting, the House’s No. 3 Republican remained absent indefinitely, and his leadership post was already being occupied temporarily.

The trauma to the Capitol from the grievous wounding of Steve Scalise, who’s set to remain hospitalized into the July Fourth recess and may not return to work before Labor Day, was not reaching in any visible way into the workings of his majority whip operation.

Republicans Vent About Lack of Health Care Details
Majority leader is driving the process as member frustration mounts

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has kept details of the massive rewrite of the health insurance under lock and key. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

BY JOE WILLIAMS AND NIELS LESNIEWSKI

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has taken full control of the chamber’s effort to rewrite the U.S. health insurance system, prompting frustrated Republican members to vent their dissatisfaction over the secretive process.