A weekly wrap-up of what happened in Congress from POPVOX.
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All about the Senate Health Bill
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:
- The Content (What's in it? What would it do?)
- The Politics (What are the chances it gets 50 votes in the Senate?)
- The Process (What comes next?)
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...
All eyes on Senate Intel…
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...
It was a short but busy recess week
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 –...
Memorial Day wishes…
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....
Not a stretch…
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,...
FBI Director firing dominated the 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.
Health bill crosses first hurdle…
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.
The week ended up where many expected…
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.
Week two of recess and lawmakers are preparing to return to Washington…
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....
Senate made major rule change….
The Supreme Court will soon return to capacity with nine members. Senate Republicans invoked “nuclear option” and confirmed Neil Gorsuch with simple majority vote. Lawmakers responded to U.S. missile attack on Syria with mix of concern and praise, with several members calling on Trump administration to seek authorization from Congress for use of military force. House Republicans are working on reviving Obamacare replacement legislation. House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes stepped aside in committee’s Russia probe. North Korea launched another missile, with President Trump saying the U.S. is ready to act alone on North Korea if China doesn’t intercede.
It's been 419 days since Justice Antonin Scalia's death, and he finally has a successor to the Supreme Court.
Congressional Review Act stayed in the spotlight…
Congress passed bill to allow states to deny federal funds to clinics that provide abortions. State Dept. notified Congress it will proceed on Bahrain arms sale without human rights conditions, kicking off approval period. House joined Senate in passing bill to reverse broadband privacy rules for internet service providers. Senate Intelligence held open hearing on Russia investigation. House Intelligence postponed second public Russia hearing and cancelled meetings for the week. Senate Judiciary teed up Supreme Court nominee vote for next week. President Trump signed four bills into law, reversing Obama era rules concerning education, public lands, and federal contractors. Senate committees advanced final Cabinet nominees to full Senate for consideration.
Senate joined the House in passing Black resolution,
From health care reform to Russia probe to Supreme Court nominee…
there was A LOT competing for your attention this week!
House Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act without a vote and began looking to tax reform. Senate passed resolution reversing broadband privacy rules. Top officials confirmed FBI investigation into potential ties between Trump campaign team and Russian government and refuted President Trump's wiretapping claims. Bipartisan lawmakers called for independent commission to examine Russian interference in the 2016 election. Senate Judiciary held four-day confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Senate confirmed new ambassador to Israel and held confirmation hearings for three more Trump nominees.
Most of this week focused on health care reform,
Despite the snow, it was another busy week on the Hill…
House Budget advanced legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, teeing up final House vote for next week. President Trump unveiled “America First” budget proposal. Both House and Senate Intelligence said there’s no evidence that the federal government wiretapped Trump Tower. Bipartisan lawmakers took to the road on 31-hour drive to Washington. Senate confirmed two more nominees, bringing the total to 20 confirmed nominees. Federal judges ruled on President Trump's revised travel executive order. Debt limit suspension expired, as lawmakers talk about raising the debt ceiling. Senate Finance held confirmation hearing for Robert Lighthizer, nominee for nation’s top trade position.
The American Health Care Act (AHCA) remained in the spotlight this week.
Congress worked late this week…
House Republicans unveiled and advanced legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. President Trump signed revised executive order focused on visa limitations and refugees. Lawmakers began talking about the debt limit, with suspension expiration fast approaching in mid-March. Congressional Review Act stayed in the spotlight, with four more disapproval resolutions headed to President Trump for approval. Senate invoked cloture on Verma nomination for CMS administrator, teeing up final confirmation vote for Monday.
This week House Republicans unveiled legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), following last week's secrecy. The plan, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), includes refundable tax credits and changes to Medicaid. The AHCA maintains some provisions from the ACA,
Another jam-packed week on the Hill…
Lawmakers weighed in on Sessions’s testimony controversy. President Trump delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress. House Republicans readied a new bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act (hiding it in a secret location). Senate confirmed four more nominees, rounding out vast majority of Cabinet-level positions. President Trump previewed budget priorities, and House Appropriations unveiled FY17 defense appropriations. House passed handful of regulatory reform bills, and President Trump signed related executive order.
Several senators called on Sessions to clarify his testimony through either an...
Congress worked from home this week…
with members holding town halls, meeting with constitutents, and touring local businesses. Trump administration will allow Congressional Republicans to take the lead on replacing the Affordable Care Act. House and Senate Republicans are divided on tax plan. White House pushed new travel ban order to next week. President Trump selected new national security adviser. Trump administration reversed several Obama administration policies. Four nominees are teed up for final votes, starting next week.
Congress spent the week working from home,
Lots of sleep deprivation this week following marathon Senate session…
House passed bill to extend privacy protections to old emails. Senate confirmed three more nominees in historic confirmation sessions in more ways than one. House passed three more resolutions aimed at reversing executive rules. President Trump signed executive orders focused on law enforcement officers and Justice Department. Appeals court maintained freeze on travel ban executive order. House Democrats gathered for annual policy retreat. Senate scheduled three confirmation votes for next week.
Email Privacy | Congressional Review Act | Three Confirmed Nominees | Executive Orders | Travel Ban | Congressional Retreat | Cabinet and Agency Appointments | ICYMI: Around the Capital | ICYMI: Around the Country
All three branches were in the spotlight this week….
Congress passed Congressional Review Act resolutions, aimed at rolling back Obama Administration regulations. Senate approved two more Trump nominees, installing a new Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of State. President Trump signed executive actions aimed at regulatory reform. Lawmakers debated replacement options for the Affordable Care Act. President Trump announced Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. District courts across the country heard cases challenging the president's travel ban executive order, which a Seattle court halted Friday afternoon.
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is having a moment. This week Congress invoked the rarely-used law from the 1996 Contract with America to invalidate several recent Obama Administration regulations.