This Week on the Hill: Last-Ditch Repeal and Replace Effort Gains Steam in Senate; Trump to Speak to UN

September 18, 2017

With the House in recess for the week, Beltway-watchers will be focused on the upper chamber where lawmakers will return today to continue consideration of the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 2810). A final cloture and up-or-down vote on the bill is expected this evening, after the chamber adopts a substitute amendment from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that constitutes the Senate’s version of the bill. Passage is expected, but it remains unclear how the two chambers will reconcile their visions for the annual defense policy measure. The Senate is also expected to approve the nomination of Noel Fransisco to be Solicitor General early this week.

Republican senators are also gearing up for a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with a new bill introduced by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The bill (H.R. 1628) introduced last week would substitute a block grant for the funding that now provides states with resources for Medicaid expansion, premium tax credits, and cost-sharing reduction subsidies. Sen. Cassidy claimed he had the support of as many as 49 senators, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declared the bill’s sponsors would be responsible for finding the 50 votes needed on their own. Additionally, representatives from the hardline House Freedom Caucus announced their support for the bill, as Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) has been pushing for a Senate vote. The fast-track reconciliation instructions for health care will expire at the end of the month, putting a firm Sep. 30 deadline on the bill to clear all procedural hurdles and be approved by both chambers.

In notable international news, world leaders will gather in New York for the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. The meeting will occur under the specter of increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula, although no breakthrough is expected at the annual meeting. All eyes will be on President Trump when he speaks to the UN for the first time on Tuesday, particularly given his “America First” approach and past comments criticizing the usefulness of international organizations.