The House was out this week.
All eyes were on inter-GOP negotiations in the Senate on the Graham-Cassidy amendment to the House health bill. With statements of opposition from two key GOP senators, the amendment appears on shaky ground; losing one more Republican vote would doom it.
This week: the Senate will take its last shot on health care before reconciliation authority (allowing a vote without the 60-vote filibuster) expires September 30.
House will vote on bills to reauthorize the FAA, tax preferences for those in hurricane recovery zones, and reauthorize information and human rights program targeting North Korea.
photo credit: The Atlantic
Last week, Republican leaders went all-in on the Graham-Cassidy amendment.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he plans to bring the bill up for a vote on the Senate floor Wednesday. Republicans dropped the bipartisan effort to shore up insurance markets that had been progressing in the Senate HELP Committee.
It was another week of "dealing" between President Trump and Congressional Democrats, as they reached agreement on the outlines of a DACA deal.
With the House out this week, all focus will be on the Senate and its multiple tracks on health care, including a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace Obamacare (Graham-Cassidy), a bipartisan attempt to shore up insurance markets before plans are announced for 2018. Senate Democrats introduced a "Medicare for All" bill.
photo credit: ABC News
Catching both parties off-guard late Wednesday night,
This week, President Trump took control of the policy agenda in a series of moves that surprised both parties on Capitol Hill.
A deal reached with Congressional Democrats avoided a government shutdown, temporarily raised the debt ceiling, and provided funding for the federal response to Hurricane Harvey. The administration announced a six-month end to DACA – the Obama-era program for "DREAMers" brought to the U.S. as children with no path to legal citizenship within six months – putting pressure on Congress to act. The president made clear that he expects the focus of the next three months to turn to tax reform, though the Senate appears to be close on an agreement for a modest and bipartisan health care fix.
Though the threats of default and shutdown are now postponed until December, large challenges still loom – including North Korea's nuclear saber-rattling, epic wildfires raging on the west coast, large areas of Texas and Louisiana still under water, and Hurricane Irma on a path to Florida, with Hurricane Jose in her wake.
photo credit: Quartz
On Tuesday Attorney General Sessions announced that the administration will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program protecting “DREAMers”
Congress returns Tuesday and with it, your POPVOX updates. We’ve missed you!
It’s been an August Recess for the history books. We’ve pulled together our notes on the big events that impact the tone and agenda of the coming weeks and months. Because Congress was away, much of the focus in August was on the actions of the president and Congressional reactions. So here, as briefly as possible, in chronological order, is what you need to know as Congress heads into the Fall.
Failed health vote
In the final days of July, the Senate failed to pass a “skinny repeal” of Obamacare, with Sens. John McCain [R, AZ], Susan Collins [R, ME] and Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R, AK] casting the deciding votes. Sen. McCain delivered a fiery speech after the vote, calling for a return to “regular order.” He reminded senators that they “do not answer to the president [but to] the American people, a sentiment he reiterated in an op-ed last week.
Tense relations between Capitol Hill and the White House
Senators lamenting zero-sum partisanship and increasingly strained relations with President Trump were early themes for August: Senator Jeff Flake released a book that was both a call to principles and a stinging rebuke of the president.
Buckle up for one of THOSE weeks in Washington.
The Senate will vote on its version of the health care bill and let the chips fall where they may. The House has reached agreement on a sanctions bill that will include sanctions on Russia, with a vote on Tuesday. The House will also take up a series of veterans bills and a spending "mini-bus" package of national security-related appropriations bills.
Much of the attention this week will be on a series of meetings between Trump administration officials and Congress regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election, starting with testimony closed-door by Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds its postponed hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Donald Trump, Jr. and Paul Manafort were originally scheduled to testify, before reaching a deal with the committee to do so at a later date.
KUSHNER TESTIMONY (Senate Intel & House Intel Committees)
In a prepared statement,
House and Senate are in. While the voting schedule looks light, a lot of work is going on under the surface.
The House will attempt to pass all twelve appropriations bills out of committee this week, for a possible omnibus funding bill vote before the August recess. (While the Senate has postponed its recess for two weeks, the House has not yet made an announcement.)
The Senate planned for this week to focus on the health bill but that has been delayed after Senator McCain underwent surgery. Negotiations on the health package will continue, while committees will work on appropriations bills, vote on the FBI director nomination, and examine the road ahead for tax reform.
Welcome back! We hope you had a wonderful 4th of July week and are enjoying your summer.
Congress is back after a week-long recess with a lot to get done before August recess: pass a budget (or not?), pass 12 spending bills (or a continuing resolution), raise the debt ceiling. And all of that was supposed to come after the health care bill that appears stalled in the Senate. Several members are calling for canceling the annual break altogether.
Here's what's up on Capitol Hill this week:
Negotiations continue on the Senate health bill. The tone of the week will largely be determined by the CBO Score for the Senate Health — expected “early” this week.
The House will vote on a variety of topics, including increased penalties for convicted felons who return after deportation, a bill capping noneconomic losses in medical malpractice suits to $250,000, and a resolution reaffirming the U.S. commitment to Article V of NATO, among others.
The "score" from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected Monday or Tuesday, with estimates on total costs and coverage impacts of the bill.
Negotiations over the Senate health bill were in full swing this weekend. Potential swing votes were the center of attention – none more so that Sen. Heller [R, NV], who wound up the subject of a Twitter hashtag war after announcing opposition to the bill. The bill was written specifically with room to negotiate – a bit like leaving "room for cream" in your coffee order. This week we will find out if there is enough room to get the 51 votes needed to pass the bill.
The focus of the week will be health care, as the Senate works toward an agreement on a bill that GOP leadership hopes can get a vote before July 4. Senate Democrats plan to make speeches and hold the Senate Floor until midnight on Tuesday to protest the closed process for crafting the bill.
The House will vote on several workforce development bills, including a renewal of the Perkins Act, which provides financial assistance for technical education.
The House will also take up a series of bills that impact families in the foster care system and bills concerning the Department of Homeland Security.
No language has yet been released for the Senate version of the health care bill, which will eventually be an amendment to the House-passed "American Health Care Act."
Timing is critical for the health bill this week because, unlike the House, the Senate cannot vote on a bill without a score from the Congressional Budget Office (under requirements for the bill to follow the "reconciliation" procedure). If the Senate indeed wants to vote on the bill by July 4,
The big action this week will be on the appropriations process, which kicks off Monday, and again on Russia hearings in the Senate (AG Sessions set to testify on Tuesday).
The House will vote on several bills to accelerate permitting for energy projects, a bill to standardize medical malpractice statutes of limitation for services or procedures financed by federal funds.
The Senate will continue work on the Iran sanctions bill.
Last week, the Senate voted 92-7 to end debate on a bill to impose new sanctions on Iran. It will continue working on the bill this week.
Some Senators continue to work on a possible amendment that would include sanctions on Russia in the bill.
Sen Bob Corker [R, TN]
This week the House will vote on "part of the third phase of [the GOP's] overhaul strategy."
The American Health Care Act (AHCA) that the House passed in May was meant to be one of three phases of the effort because of limitations Republicans face in moving the measure through the budget reconciliation process.