This week in Congress was all about the health bill – from speculation about the content and complaints about the opaque process in the beginning of the week to analysis and commentary after the Thursday release.
Also this week: the President signed the VA Accountability Act and new revelations surfaced about Russian efforts to hack the 2016 election.
On Thursday, Senate GOP Leadership released the "Better Care" health care discussion draft, the Senate's amendment to the House-passed American Health Care Act.
Let's take a look at three big angles on the bill:
A Wednesday morning shooting at House Republicans’ practice for the Congressional Baseball Game left five injured. The Congressional Baseball Game went ahead on Thursday night as scheduled, uniting lawmakers and much of political Washington, at least for one night.
In other news, a small group of GOP senators continues work on a health care bill, amid growing complaints about the secrecy of the process. The House passed several bills in its "Part Three" plan for revamping the health system.
The Senate voted on several significant international affairs bills, including narrowly approving the Saudi Arms Sale, overwhelmingly passing an amendment to add tough sanctions on Russia to its Iran sanctions bill, and an amendment reaffirming America's commitment to NATO's Article 5 "mutual assistance" principle.
image credit: Stephen Voss, CNN
It was a week for the history books, as the former FBI Director testified before Senate Intelligence. While all eyes were on the Comey hearing, the House passed a major bill to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial regulations and significantly change the U.S. regulatory process. The Senate GOP kept working behind the scenes on a health care bill, and we saw the first signs of life in the appropriations process.
This photo of the Comey Hearing by Doug Mills of the New York Times went viral.
More than 19 million people watched former FBI director, James Comey, testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. In usual practice, the Senate Intelligence Committee released Comey's opening statement the day before the hearing, which detailed the former director's interactions with President Trump.
In open testimony under oath, Comey used some variation of the word “lie” five times in reference to the president and said that he interpreted several one-on-one conversations as pressure to drop the Michael Flynn investigation. (A White House spokesperson later
President Trump announced Thursday that the US would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. The backbeat of the Russia investigation continued. While members were away, staffers huddled to work on the Senate health care bill and lay the groundwork for Congressional budget bills.
On Thursday, President Trump announced that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, which 195 countries agreed to in 2015. Though withdrawal from the agreement had been a theme of the Trump campaign, the president received considerable pressure arguing both to stay and to leave. This included twenty senators who sent a letter supporting withdrawal, while world leaders, scientists, and business leaders opposed the move.
In wake of the announcement, French President Macron issued an invitation –
The long-awaited CBO score for the House GOP health bill now clears the way for the Senate to cut its own path. The president released his budget and as usual, Congress will work on its own. But they'd better get moving. The legislative window is starting to close if Congress still hopes to do health care changes under a 2017 budget resolution and move on to tax reform with a 2018 resolution after September.
One thing in Washington is not slowing down: the Russia investigation. With new developments every day and at least five simultaneous investigations in play, it's starting to consume the agenda in DC.
But thankfully, it's Memorial Day weekend! Members are home in their districts, parades are scheduled, and it's a time for all of us to give thanks and remember those who sacrificed.
To all who have served and all who have lost loved ones, thank you for your service.
Did you know?
The flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only.
to say that this was one of the crazier weeks in American political history.
Most of the Capitol Hill coverage centered around reactions to revelations of former FBI Director Comey's notes about interactions with the president reports that the president gave classified information to the Russians, and the appointment of a special counsel for the Russia investigation.
Also this week, the FCC voted to begin the process of rolling back net neutrality rules; the tax-writing committee held a hearing to kick off tax reform efforts; and a group of senators met to discuss the outlines of a potential bipartisan health bill. Efforts to reform and upgrade government technology also got a boost with a House vote and a White House pow-wow. And the House passed several bills to mark National Police Week.
Lawmakers spent much of the week responding to developments from the White House and the FBI.
Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by President Trump last week,
Monday started with Senate testimony from Sally Yates and James Clapper, quickly eclipsed by the firing of FBI Director Comey on Tuesday.
House members were in districts this week, where many held town hall meetings. Senate held votes on several nominations, including the U.S. Trade Representative, and a failed vote to overturn the Obama-era methane rule.
The House passed the American Health Care Act, moving the action on health care to the Senate. Congress passed the Omnibus spending bill to fund the government through September, with a bipartisan compromise that had both sides claiming a win.
Congress passed a one-week extension to fund the government past the April 28th deadline and did not hold a House vote on the health care bill.
The Senate confirmed Alexander Acosta as Labor Secretary, ensuring that President Trump’s cabinet reached 100% confirmed before the 100 Day mark.
Lawmakers spent a lot of time responding to developments in the executive branch, including: the release of the president’s tax reform outline, a Trump interview with Reuters indicating that “major major war” with North Korea was possible, and revelations that Trump’s former NSA advisor, Michael Flynn, accepted and did not report payments from foreign governments. In addition, President Trump and aides indicated support for proposals to “break up the 9th Circuit” Court of Appeals.
Also this week, the FCC released a proposed rule to roll back Title II Net Neutrality provisions that had prevented internet service providers from prioritizing certain content.
House Republicans are readying new version of an Obamacare replacement bill. Current spending authorization runs out next week, meaning Congress must pass a deal to avoid a government shutdown. The 115th Congress reached 100-day mark. White House is expected to drop tax overhaul plan next week. Speaker Ryan has said Congress might not pass a tax bill until much later in the year.