Joe Williams

McConnell In Difficult Spot With Latest Health Care Push
Senate majority leader tasked with shepherding bill he had no role in writing

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is counting on an 11th-hour attempt to repeal the 2010 health care law and change directions on a disappointing year for Republicans.

Having put health care on the back burner after lacking the votes this summer, McConnell has thrown his weight behind a proposal from GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Dean Heller of Nevada.

Lawmakers Sing a Bipartisan Tune as a Bitter Fall Looms
Trump’s recent deal-making elicits confusion and hope

Bipartisanship is the song of September.

Bernie Sanders, the Man With Single-Payer Clout
Vermont independent continues to direct the future of national Democratic Party

The seismic shift in support for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ plan to transform the U.S. health care system into a single-payer program indicates the reach the Vermont independent has within the Democratic Party.

At the same time that his onetime presidential foe Hillary Clinton is reminding people of the party’s devastating loss last fall, Sanders is trying to define its future. His bill to enroll every American in Medicare drew 16 co-sponsors, 16 more than when he first introduced similar legislation in 2013.

A Blue Badger in Trump Country
Baldwin cites causes she’s championed well before the president

HAYWARD, Wis. — On the banks of Moose Lake, Sen. Tammy Baldwin served meals from a food truck purchased by the local senior resource center and expanded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Later, Baldwin heard from constituents concerned about President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to the very same USDA program. She vowed to fight those and other suggested funding reductions from her perch on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Opioid Epidemic Continues to Ravage the Midwest
Despite congressional action, counties find it hard to keep up

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. — Despite action by Congress to address the opioid addiction epidemic, hard-hit areas of the country like this one in the Midwest are finding it difficult to keep up with the fallout from the unfolding situation.

In July, here in Wisconsin’s Jackson County, for instance, 34 children who were taken out of their homes, many a result of a parent’s opioid addiction, remained in foster care. 

McCain to Continue Cancer Treatment While Working
Arizona Republican diagnosed with a brain tumor in July

Sen. John McCain will continue to receive chemotherapy and radiation treatment while maintaining his work schedule in the U.S. Senate, his office announced on Tuesday.

“Senator McCain received an MRI at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland yesterday. Following the advice of his doctors, Senator McCain will continue to receive targeted radiation and chemotherapy treatments at NIH while maintaining a regular work schedule in the United States Senate,” the statement read.

Closed-Door Process Might Threaten Tax Timeline in Senate
Lack of consensus on budget could push back tax overhaul deadline

The closed-door process under which Republican congressional leaders and the Trump administration are crafting an overhaul of the United States tax code could impede the Senate’s timeline for the effort.

Lawmakers say they have yet to receive key details, making it difficult to craft a fiscal 2018 budget resolution that will ultimately serve as the vehicle to advance the tax bill.

Senate Pins Health Care Hopes On Bipartisan Bill
Repeal efforts on 2010 law ebb as other measures pop up

A last-ditch attempt by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law appears unlikely to get off the ground, as lawmakers from both parties pin all their hopes for a health care fix on a long-shot bipartisan bill to stabilize the insurance markets.

While there’s an effort underway within the GOP conference to try to hold another vote on a bill to overhaul former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, optimism is low among several Republican lawmakers and aides that it will be successful.

Analysis: Trump Hits Congress With Immigration Quandary
Administration’s decision on DACA could derail work on other items

The Republican legislative agenda for the remainder of the year was thrown into question Tuesday after the Trump administration announced its decision to gradually wind down an Obama-era program affecting undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

The White House essentially put Congress on a six-month clock to advance a comprehensive immigration overhaul, an achievement that has so far been unreachable for many years due to the complexity of the issue and vast differences of opinions.

For Joe Donnelly, a Long History of Bucking His Party
Indiana Democrat faces challenging re-election, which is also nothing new

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — The fate of Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly’s re-election bid next year may lie in his ability to convince Hoosiers he’s not always on the same page as the national Democratic Party. Fortunately for him, he has a lot of practice, and has been highly successful at it, going back more than a dozen years.

“The party occasionally gets mad, I really don’t care,” said one of the Democrats’ most endangered incumbents.

McCain Returning to Senate Next Week
Arizona Republican underwent treatment for brain cancer

Sen. John McCain will return to Washington D.C. on Tuesday after undergoing treatment for brain cancer over the past several weeks during the Senate’s August recess.

“Senator McCain will return to the U.S. Senate next week as Congress begins a new legislative session and looks forward to continuing his work for the people of Arizona and the nation,” according to a statement from the Arizona Republican’s office Wednesday evening.

Two Senators, Two Parties, One River, Similar Message
Agricultural issues sprinkle talking points of both McConnell and Donnelly

BOONVILLE, Ind. — On opposite sides of the Ohio River on Thursday, a Republican leader under attack from President Donald Trump and a Democratic senator facing a potentially difficult re-election bid sounded a similar, agriculture-heavy message to core constituencies.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellspeaking at a farm bureau breakfast in his home state of Kentucky — trumpeted the future abolishment of an Obama-era rule despised by many in the industry and provided assurances that farmers would be taken care of in an upcoming reauthorization of legislation that governs many agriculture programs.

Mitch McConnell Stays on Message at Ham Breakfast
At Kentucky event, majority leader declines to address rift with Trump

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Comfortable on his home turf here at the Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast and Auction, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not address the growing rift between congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump, opting instead to spend a notable portion of his address Thursday criticizing the former administration.

“The single figure that stands about above all else is we didn’t have a single year of three percent growth,” McConnell said of the last eight years at the annual event hosted by the Kentucky Farm Bureau. “This new administration in Washington and this Congress is interested in getting America growing again.”

McConnell’s Senate Colleagues Defend Him Against Trump Attacks
Graham: ‘You should hold us all accountable for the promises we made’

Republican senators are coming to the defense of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after President Donald Trump spent the week criticizing the Kentucky Republican for so far failing to advance the GOP agenda.

Trump, who is currently vacationing at a golf resort in New Jersey, has fired off a number of tweets critical of the Kentucky Republican and backed those posts up with threats to his future as the Senate leader.

Republicans to Weigh Surplus of Tax Policy Options
Standalone bills provide a glimpse into senators’ priorities

Legislation introduced by Republican senators over the past several months could help guide the upcoming debate on an overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

While the effort is still in the adolescent stage, the bills provide an early look into the priorities members will push for during the forthcoming tax negotiations.

Senate Republicans Face Key Tax Overhaul Decisions
Effort remains in nascent stages in the face of looming deadlines

Senate Republicans have not yet come to a consensus on several crucial decisions that must be made before any serious work begins on legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax code.

Complicating that effort are a number of pressing deadlines the chamber faces, including funding the government past the end of September, the upcoming debt ceiling, and a pending reauthorization of a popular children’s health insurance program. 

Analysis: Health Care Failure to Haunt Republicans Over Recess
Lawmakers call relationship with White House a ‘work in progress’

Senate Republicans departed on Thursday for a 32-day recess with key victories overshadowed by a momentous defeat on their effort to overhaul the 2010 health care law.

Lawmakers left Capitol Hill for the extended break after several months of tumult, much of which stemmed from a nascent Trump administration fraught with self-inflicted scandals and lacking in traditional political experience.

Senate Overwhelmingly Sends Russia Sanctions Bill to Trump’s Desk
The White House has sent mixed signals over whether Trump will sign it

The Senate on Thursday passed 98-2 a bill to impose new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. 

The White House, which has been plagued for months over a federal investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government, has sent mixed signals over whether Trump would sign the legislation. 

Chaos Consumes Future of Obamacare Repeal Effort
Senate Republicans have “assurances” the House would go to conference with the chamber

By JOE WILLIAMS, REMA RAHMAN and LINDSEY McPHERSON

Senate Republicans are hinging their support on a “skinny” bill to repeal the 2010 health care law on assurances that the chamber would go to conference with the House on a broader bill with replacement measures.

‘Skinny’ Obamacare Repeal Bill Takes Shape
Language still fluid hours before an expected vote

A “skinny” bill to repeal portions of the 2010 health care law crafted by Senate Republican leadership behind closed doors is starting to take shape, but the language remains fluid hours before an expected vote on the measure.

The current proposal would repeal the individual mandate, partially repeal the employer mandate and defund Planned Parenthood for one year, a Senate GOP aide said.