Despite last week’s failed vote on the “skinny” repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Senate will go forward with its plans to stay in session for two weeks into its traditional August recess. Although the exact schedule remains unclear, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is reportedly hoping to use the time to consider a few of the items that will require action before the end of the current fiscal year on Sep. 30, including a House-passed reauthorization of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a debt ceiling hike. Consideration of the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was initially expected, but objections from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) return to Arizona for cancer treatment have put those plans on hold.
The Week in Review
There was no shortage of drama on Capitol Hill last week as the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) suffered another setback in a failed overnight vote on the Senate floor. Three Republicans joined all Democrats in voting down the so-called “skinny” repeal” that was designed to represent a least common denominator between the moderate and conservative wings of the Republican caucus. While the 49-51 defeat was a major blow for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), it is unclear whether the majority party will be abandoning their tumultuous effort to reshape the nation’s healthcare system. A full breakdown on last week’s events is provided in the roundup below.
- The House is expected to take up a Congressional Review Act measure that would overturn the arbitration rule that the CFPB announced two weeks ago. Also on the agenda for the floor is a “minibus” appropriations bill that includes the Defense, Legislative Branch, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Energy and Water Development appropriations bills.
- The Financial Services Committee is scheduled to hold a mark-up on Tuesday. On the agenda are a series of Capital Markets measures, plus a resolution of inquiry to compel the Treasury Secretary to produce documents related to the President’s business with Russia.
- With a razor thin margin continuing to pose problems for Leader McConnell as he works to bring up the health care reform bill, the Senate is expected to spend most of the week burning floor time to move a series of nominees.
- Speaking of nominees, the Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday to consider the nominations of Joseph Otting to be the Comptroller of Currency and Randal Quarles to be the Vice-Chair of Supervision at the Federal Reserve.
In an op-ed published in RealClearHealth, Thorn Run's Shea McCarthy comments on the narrow path forward for the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). McCarthy notes that while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel stated a repeal and replace “will not be successful,” the GOP’s most viable path forward in passing healthcare reform remains the BCRA. “The 49 GOP senators who met over lunch at the White House last Wednesday left the meeting encouraged, and negotiations among undecided senators continued at a Members-only meeting Wednesday night,” said McCarthy. McCarthy also highlighted the unfeasibility of a “repeal and delay” tactic that would likely alienate moderates and stall healthcare reform altogether. “The likely absence of Sen. McCain this week and the intransigence of Sen. Collins will make threading the legislative needle a difficult — almost impossible — task for GOP leaders. But the BCRA could make one last gasp for revival before we finally write its eulogy. And if Leader McConnell writes the right prescription, it has an outside chance at survival.”
Once again, the fierce negotiations on the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are scheduled to come to a head this week with Senate floor consideration of the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA). While every weekly preview for the past month has seemingly promised that event, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republican leaders appear to be set on using this week as a do-or-die period for the health care overhaul. A vote on the motion to proceed to the bill could come as early as tomorrow, but it remains unclear exactly what package Republican leaders ultimately want to move forward after last week’s collapse in support for the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) as originally drafted. The two apparent options are 1) a “repeal and delay” bill that would more completely repeal the ACA after a two-year period in order to provide Republicans time to design a replacement, or 2) a revised version of the BCRA that would include further changes designed to convince skeptics on both the moderate and conservative side of the spectrum.
The Week in Review
It was an immensely tumultuous week for the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill was seemingly dead after Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) announced that they would oppose a motion to proceed early in the week, but further negotiations have resurrected the package and it may yet be considered on the Senate floor. A full breakdown on the developments is included below.
With the Republican ‘repeal and replace’ effort on life support, lawmakers are headed back to the drawing board on health care and Senate Democrats are reaching out to encourage the majority part to engage in bipartisan conversations. It is unclear how Republican leadership intends to move forward, but it is evident that other priorities are likely to be considered in the meantime.
The Week in Review
Health care continued to be at the forefront of discussions in Washington last week as Senate Republicans made further progress on the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) – their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released an updated version of the legislation on Thursday, with a series of policy changes aimed at attracting Republican holdouts on both the moderate and conservative side of the spectrum. However, despite the changes, the future of the bill is still uncertain with two Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rand Paul (R-KY) — already announcing their intent to vote against the motion to proceed to the bill on the Senate floor. A full breakdown of the major policy changes and where senators stand on the bill is included in our roundup below.
Lawmakers return to Washington this week facing a critical three-week period before the August recess. Without any major legislative achievements so far this year, Republicans will be focused on the tense Senate negotiations on legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). An agreement has yet to be reached on the legislative text that will reach the Senate floor, as Republican leadership deliberate on how to create a package that will placate both conservative skeptics — most notably Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) — and moderates, led by Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Susan Collins (R-ME). The initial proposal in the Senate, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), was opposed by at least 10 Republicans on both sides of the ideological spectrum. A vote is not expected this week as the Congressional Budget Office is currently scoring some of the proposed changes, but the impending August recess is expected to be the final deadline for the Senate to move a package. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has suggested that a failure to do so will necessitate lawmakers working on a smaller package with Democrats that would shore up the ACA’s insurance markets.
The Week in Review
Washington was quiet last week as lawmakers celebrated July 4 in their home districts and President Trump travelled to Europe for the G-20 summit of the world’s leading economies. Both groups were met by some protests; lawmakers who held in-district events faced raucous crowds over the ongoing debate on the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the President (along with other world leaders) faced a hostile reception from protestors in Hamburg, Germany. The officials should thus be happy to return to Washington this week, where three weeks remain before the depart again for Congress’s traditional month-long August recess.