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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.”

Trump Says Senate GOP Health Care Holdouts Are ‘Four Good Guys’
President appears eager to avoid offending conservative senators in quest for 50 votes

President Donald Trump told Fox News four Senate Republican holdouts on the health care bill want to see some changes, “and we’ll see if we can take care of that.” (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump called four conservative holdouts who could wreck Senate Republican leaders’ health care bill “good guys,” saying there is a “narrow path” to win their support and pass the measure.

Hours after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other GOP leaders briefed senators on then released a “discussion draft” of a bill that would repeal and replace the 2010 health law, GOP Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah announced they could not support the bill as-is.

Senate Health Care Bill Gets Lukewarm White House Reaction
Tepid response follows cheerleading from Mike Pence

President Donald Trump will not take a position on any provision in Senate GOP leadership’s health care bill, his spokeswoman said Thursday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump and his top aides responded to the health care overhaul bill crafted by Senate Republican leaders with striking silence, even after Vice President Mike Pence said a final vote must happen in the next few weeks.

The White House did not issue any paper statement about the bill, either under Trump’s name or that of any senior official. And when Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders briefed reporters a few hours after the bill was made public, she declined to discuss any of its contents.

Batter Up! The 9th Congressional Women's Softball Game in Photos
The June 21 event as captured by Roll Call's photographer

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., bats in the Congressional Women’s Softball Game on Wednesday that pits members of Congress against female journalists at Watkins Recreation Center on Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The press team prevailed 2-1 in this year’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game that pits journalists against members of Congress. It’s the ninth annual such event. Bipartisanship was on full display more than ever this year, Alex Gangitano reports, at an event where members from both sides of the aisle have traditionally played on the same team.

The game benefits the Young Survival Coalition that helps young women with breast cancer.

GOP Frets About Fiscal Restraint Progress
Conservatives pushing cuts to mandatory spending

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan says Republicans are still discussing options for the budget and appropriations process, even as conservatives are pushing for steep cuts to mandatory spending. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Fiscal restraint has long been part of the Republican Party’s brand, but GOP lawmakers have made little progress on reducing the amount of money the federal government spends. And frankly, they’re sick of it.

That’s the impetus for what has become a serious push by rank-and-file House Republicans to use the budget reconciliation process to enact mandatory spending cuts.

Bipartisanship Continues to Show Strength in Congressional Softball Game
Members’ team lost but the focus was on camaraderie and charity

Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., greets members of the press team at the Congressional Women's Softball Game. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The positive energy and sense of community spilled over to the Congressional Women’s Softball Game from the previous week’s Congressional Baseball Game. With a record number of tickets sold and money raised for young women with breast cancer, the members losing 2-1 to the media team didn’t seem so bad.

“We tried hard and we’ll try hard next year, but it was a great night and I felt like not only did we come together as a Congress, both Dems and Republicans, but as a community,” New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said. “I think it showed our strength.”

Press Beats Members at Congressional Women's Softball Game, to Record Crowd
The Bad News Babes win 2-1 over the members' team

Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner throws out the first pitch in the Congressional Women’s Softball game on Wednesday at Watkins Recreation Center on Capitol Hill. Griner was injured in last week’s shooting at the Republican baseball practice. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Between the large crowds, record-breaking fundraising, a heroic first pitch, bipartisanship throughout the stadium and the game itself, it was hard to pinpoint just one takeaway at Wednesday’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game.

The press team, known as the Bad News Babes, won the ninth annual game, 2-1, against the members of Congress.

For Scalise, Les Bons Fleur-de-Lis Flair
Hospital upgrades condition of Louisiana Republican

Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, right, and Mike Conaway, R-Texas, leave a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol on June 21, 2017. Members wore fleur-de-lis stickers to honor House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who was injured in last week’s shooting at the Republican baseball practice. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Was it the fleurs-de-lis?

On a day when his GOP colleagues donned Louisiana fleur-de-lis flair, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s condition improved to fair and he is beginning an extended rehabilitation process, MedStar Washington Hospital Center said in a statement Wednesday.

House GOP Undecided on Spending Path
Speaker says Republicans still having ‘family conversation’

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., says Republicans are still at the 'family conversation' level of figuring out the appropriations process. Also appearing are, from left, Reps. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With a little more than seven legislative weeks before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, House Republicans still do not have a consensus on the process for funding the government, fueling some discontent in the conference. 

“We haven’t decided exactly how we’re going to go about our appropriations process in this first year, but we’re going to move together on consensus,” Speaker Paul D. Ryan told reporters after the Republican conference met Wednesday morning.

In Ralph Norman, Trump Gets a Strong Ally
Incoming South Carolina congressman gives president an A-plus

South Carolina Rep.-elect Ralph Norman won on his second attempt for the 5th District seat. (Courtesy Ralph Norman for Congress)

Republican Ralph Norman, a developer of hotels, shopping centers, and retail stores, won a House seat 11 years after his first unsuccessful bid for the same South Carolina seat in 2006.

In Tuesday’s 5th District special election to replace former Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who resigned from the House to become head of the Office of Management and Budget, Norman defeated Democrat Archie Parnell, a former Goldman Sachs executive and tax lawyer by an unexpectedly close 51 percent to 48 percent margin.