Politics

Trump Is ‘Very Supportive’ of Senate Health Care Bill
President breaks silence after spokeswoman signaled hands-off approach

President Donald Trump threw his support behind the Senate GOP’s health care bill on Thursday evening. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday evening that he is “very supportive” of the health care bill crafted by Senate Republican leadership, departing from an earlier more cautious approach by his White House communications team.

The president’s support for the bill — which proposes Medicaid cuts, and an end to the 2010 health care law’s individual mandate — comes as Senate leaders must win over several conservative senators who on Thursday announced they have concerns with the measure. It is unclear whether Trump’s support will help bring those conservatives on board.

Now vs. Then: Senate Republicans on Health Care Overhaul
Some singing same song, others flip flop

A group of 13 Senate Republicans worked on the health care overhaul bill released Thursday. From left, Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas on June 6, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Prior to the release of Senate legislation to overhaul U.S. health care Thursday, Democrats took aim at Republican leadership for crafting a bill largely behind closed doors.

Seven years ago, roles were reversed as Senate Republicans railed against Democrats for a lack of transparency in the passage of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. 

Schiff Wonders, is a Tweet an Official Response?
Top Intel House Dem concerned that Devin Nunes still involved in Russia probe

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, is wondering if President Donald Trump’s tweets constitute an official response. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee wants to clarify with White House counsel whether President Donald Trump’s tweets about not having tapes of conversations with former FBI Director James B. Comey constitutes an official statement from the White House.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the committee, said Thursday he believes a request that the panel receive any evidence of tapes by Friday prompted Trump to respond the day before in an effort to avoid the administration from being subpoenaed. 

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.

Trump Has ‘No Idea’ if There Are Comey Tapes
President tweets he did not make recordings of former FBI director

President Donald Trump says he did not tape his conversations with former FBI Director James B. Comey. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

On the day Senate Republicans released their until now secret health care bill, President Donald Trump used Twitter to answer a question hanging over his embattled presidency: He does not have recordings of his conversations with former FBI Director James B. Comey.

The president and his top aides had promised to provide information before week’s end about whether or not he had, as he alluded to in a May 12 tweet, “tapes” of his private talks with Comey. His Twitter disclosure also came one day before a House Intelligence Committee deadline for the White House to hand over any such recordings or information.

Senate Republicans Raise Questions About Health Care Bill
‘My concern is this doesn’t repeal Obamacare,’ Rand Paul says

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy talks with reporters Thursday after a meeting in the Capitol on the Senate Republicans’ health care draft. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A few key Senate Republicans are already raising concerns with the discussion draft of a health care bill unveiled Thursday, which could threaten its passage if the measure comes up for a vote next week.

Multiple senators raised concerns with the draft they were briefed on Thursday morning, although many said they needed to review the proposal in full. Senate GOP leaders can only lose two Republican votes on the measure for it to pass with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote as no Democrats are expected to vote for the measure. GOP leaders hope to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote next week.

United Utah Party Sues to Get on Ballot to Replace Chaffetz
Party is led by Jim Bennett, son of late Sen. Bob Bennett.

Jim Bennett could have appeared on the ballot as unaffiliated, but he said, “I’m not unfailliated and I don’t want to run and pretend that I am.” (United Utah Party)

Jim Bennett, the son of former Utah Sen. Bob Bennett, has a new political party, and he wants it on the ballot in the Utah special election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

Bennett is suing the state of Utah to get on the ballot with United Utah Party next to his name, after state officials ruled in May that there wouldn't be time to verify the 2,600 signatures gathered to create the new party before the election.

Pelosi Blows Off Calls to Step Down
‘It's not up to them,’ she says of Democrats calling for new leadership

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dismissed calls on Thursday for her to step down. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Describing herself as “worth the trouble,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Thursday blew off calls from some chamber Democrats for her to step down from leadership in the wake of special election losses this year and a failure to win a House majority in four straight national elections. 

“It’s not up to them,” the California Democrat said of members calling for her to let someone else give it a try, before calling herself a “master legislator.”

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.

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 then 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.

Trump Says He Hopes Dems Don’t Force Pelosi Out
‘That would be very bad for the Republican Party,’ president tweets

President Donald Trump wants Nancy Pelosi to stay on as House Democratic leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that he hopes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stays as leader of the Democrats.

But the presidential tweet was not well-wishing. Rather, Trump said, “That would be very bad for the Republican Party” if Pelosi were forced out.

Psychologist to Challenge John Duncan in Tennessee
Dr. Joshua Williams cites fear and anxiety about health care as a reason for running

Dr. Joshua Duncan said his challenge to incumbent Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. isn’t personal. (Joshua Williams for Congress via Facebook)

Ohio Man Charged With Threatening Stivers
Latest in series of threatening voicemails made reference to shooting at GOP baseball practice

A Westerville man is charged with threatening Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Will Georgia’s 6th District Do This All Again in 2018?
Closely watched district likely won’t be as competitive next year

Republican Karen Handel, seen here the day before the election, won the closely watched special election in Georgia’s 6th District on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — Despite initial relief among Georgia’s 6th District residents that the barrage of campaign ads has come to an end, the reprieve might not last too long.

“Now we know what New Hampshire looks like,” said Chip Lake, a GOP consultant based in Georgia.

Health Care Politics Serve as Senate Bill Text Prelude
Wednesday’s campaign fodder a preview of Thursday’s discussion draft

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is preparing to release a draft bill to rework the U.S. health insurance system he has assembled in secret. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate procedural wonks huddled Wednesday with the parliamentarian’s office, making their case for whether Republican legislation to rework the health insurance system complies with the chamber’s rules, even as Washington braced for the release of the draft GOP measure. 

Over the next week, though, the debate will play out on both the procedural and political fields.