Obamacare Repeal Bill In The Senate Update

The House and Senate are back in session this week. The Senate will process a handful of nominees, including David C. Nye to be District Judge for the District of Idaho, while continuing to discuss legislation that would partially repeal and replace Obamacare. The House will consider 15 bills on the suspension calendar and debate the annual National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810). Dozens of amendments are expected to be made in order.

 

Obamacare Repeal: Senate Republicans finalized an initial draft to repeal and replace Obamacare last month called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). Before a planned vote was postponed, Heritage Action has called on Senate Republicans to 1) repeal Obamacare’s taxes, 2) keep the AHCA reforms to Medicaid, and 3) empower states to opt out of Obamacare’s Title I insurance regulations. The BCRA is far from a full repeal of Obamacare, but does represent an improvement over the status quo. As introduced, the bill would have repealed the Obamacare taxes, rolled back Medicaid expansion and capped federal spending on the program on a per capita basis, and allowed states to opt out of some Obamacare regulations. Before the July Fourth recess, Mitch McConnell announced the Senate would vote sometime in July.

 

Over the past week, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) made an aggressive  push for their “Freedom Option” amendment that would allow insurance companies sell non-Obamacare compliant plans. Heritage Action called it a “serious proposals that would inject much-needed consumer choice and competition into an otherwise deteriorating market. These are the types of reforms that would help roll back the damage inflicted by Obamacare. Simply throwing more money at the problem as some moderates are seeking to do is not an enduring solution.”

 

Republicans appear no closer to consensus after the July 4th recess than they were before. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested Republicans would have to work with Democrats because “some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur.” After that comment, Heritage Action released the following statement from chief executive officer Michael A Needham:

 

“Talk of a bipartisan bailout of Obamacare would have two major effects: It would embolden Republican moderates as they continue to hold out in attempt to keep as much of Obamacare on the books as possible, and it would undermine honest efforts that empower states to get out from under Obamacare’s burdensome regulations. If the Republican Party wants to work with Democrats to bailout Obamacare, the results will be catastrophic for the party. For seven years it has pledged it is the party of repeal and now is the time to work toward that goal.”

 

Sentinels must continue to keep the pressure up on their Republican Senators to strengthen the bill and include additional provisions to empower consumer choice and lower health care costs by expanding states’ regulatory reform options to roll back Obamacare mandates.  A recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that since the rollout of Obamacare, individual market premiums have gone up 105 percent in the 39 states using Healthcare.gov. Congress must act quickly to reverse Obamacare’s devastating impact on health care insurance, patients, and doctors.   

 

AHCA Recap: On May 4th, the House passed an amended version of the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628) by a final vote of 217 to 213 after Speaker Paul Ryan was forced to pull the bill from the floor 18 days after it was first introduced. Most conservative organizationsand health policy experts opposed the original version of the AHCA because it failed to repeal the regulatory architecture of Obamacare (Title I) that is responsible for the rising cost of health care premiums. During the Easter recess, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, worked out a deal to allow states to easily opt-out of core elements of Obamacare’s Title I insurance regulations if they set up high-risk pools to assist those with pre-existing chronic conditions. This compromise convinced enough conservatives and some moderates to vote for the bill. Heritage Action withdrew its original key vote after House Republican leaders adopted the MacArthur-Meadows Amendment to move the ball forward in the Senate.

 

Resources:

Heritage Foundation report: Better than the Status Quo, Senate Health Care Bill Still Misses Major Opportunities, click here.

Heritage Action statement on Freedom Option, click here.

Heritage Action statement on a bi-partisan Obamacare bailout, click here.

Heritage Action statement on the Obamacare repeal effort, click here.

Heritage Action fact sheet on Obamacare Title I regulations, click here.

Heritage Action key vote, click here.

Sentinel Brief, click here.

Daily Signal blog on Freedom Option, click here.

 

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): This week the House will consider the annual National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810). Over 400 amendments have been filed to this bill, most of which will not be made in order. Heritage Action is currently reviewing the amendments — we expect dozens of votes later this week — to identify amendments that merit strong conservative support and ones that deserve serious opposition. Amendments will range from the military’s transgender policy and immigration to procurement issues and programmatic reforms.  We expect multiple amendment key votes.

 

Overall, the bill would authorize $696.5 billion for the military, which is far above the current budget caps. Of that, $631.5 billion for base budget accounts — current law calls for $549 billion — and another $65 billion for war spending. Overall, the bill is $28.5 billion above the Trump administration’s request.

 

The Budget, Appropriations and Tax Reform: President Trump’s FY2018 budget puts taxpayers first by reducing spending by $3.6 trillion over the next ten years. It includes significant reforms to food stamps, disability insurance, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, while prioritizing much-need defense funding. The House has failed to reach consensus on their FY2018 budget at this point. Until Republican members agree on a budget, they will not be able to use budget reconciliation to pass pro-growth tax reform. Budget Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) is leading efforts to finalize a budget, but has met stiff resistance from some House Republican who do not want to cut federal spending.

 

Once the FY2018 budget is finalized, Congress can use budget reconciliation to pass tax reform. To help ensure tax reform happens, Congress should abandon House Republican Leadership’s support for a border adjustment tax (BAT) and revenue neutrality, and insteadoffset tax cuts with spending cuts by passing deficit-neutral tax reform. Cutting taxes and spending together will boost economic growth, increase job creation, and reduce the size and scope of government.

 

Resources:

Heritage Action press release on budget process, click here.

Heritage Action press release on the BAT, click here.

Heritage Foundation report on deficit-neutral tax reform, click here.

Heritage Foundation report on tax reform without the BAT, click here.

Heritage Action press release on Trump’s budget, click here.

 

Military Amnesty: Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) introduced a bill earlier this year that would give illegal immigrants amnesty if they join the military. In 2014, The Heritage Foundation described the bill as “radical legislation that would give illegal immigrants near-instant citizenship if they volunteer for military service.” Named the Encourage New Legalized Immigrants to Start Training (ENLIST) Act (H.R. 60), the bill fails to advance national security priorities, further damages the U.S. immigration system, and undermines the armed forces by unnecessarily dragging the controversial immigration debate into the U.S. military and the brave men and women who serve it. H.R. 60 currently has 198 co-sponsors, down from 205. Reps. Ron Estes (R-KS), Ralph Abraham (R-LA), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Jody Hice (R-GA) and Buddy Carter (R-GA) all withdrew support after conservatives reached out on the issue. There is some concern ENLIST may get attached to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Heritage Action opposes the ENLIST Act and urges Sentinels to contact their members of Congress to oppose the bill as well.

 

Resources:

Sentinel brief, click here.

Heritage Action press release, click here.

Heritage Foundation report, click here.

 

Work Requirements for Food Stamps: Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) recently introduced a work for welfare bill called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2996). This legislation would help reduce poverty and government dependency, increase self-sufficiency, and restore families by strengthening the effective and popular work requirements for all able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDS) who receive food stamps (SNAP). Welfare programs, including food stamps, should be temporary, limited in size and scope, and assist the truly needy. But over the past two decades the program has grown out-of-control both in cost and in the number of individuals receiving benefits. The number of food stamp recipients has increased from around 17 million in 2000 to over 45 million in 2015 while costs have risen from $20.7 billion to over $83 billion during that same time frame. Congress should pass Rep. Graves’ legislation to restore work requirements for food stamps and encourage millions of Americans to go back to work, help end the cycle of poverty for those dependent on government assistance, and save taxpayers billions of dollars.

 

Heritage Action endorses this bill and urges Sentinels to contact their member of Congress to cosponsor this legislation.

 

Resources:

Heritage Action legislative endorsement, click here.

Sentinel brief, click here.

 

Labor Reform: Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) recently introduced the Employee Rights Act (H.R. 2723). This legislation would protect workers from union pressure by putting power back in the hands of employees and making union leaders more accountable to their members. It now has 33 co-sponsors, and more are expected this week. Heritage explains the legislation would guarantee employees the rights to vote privately in a secret ballot election before forming a union, opt out of having their personal contact information provided to a union during an organizing drive, hear from employers at least 40 days prior to voting in a union election, vote in a secret ballot election before accepting a contract or going on strike, vote regularly on re-electing their union, decide whether their union can spend their dues on matters unrelated to collective bargaining, and be free from union interference or extortion in exercising their legal rights. Heritage Action has endorsed the Employee Rights Act and urges Sentinels to contact their members of Congress to cosponsor this legislation.

 

Resources:

Heritage Action legislative endorsement, click here.

Sentinel brief, click here.

Daily Signal blog, click here.

 

Dodd-Frank Repeal: The House successfully passed Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s bill to repeal or replace some of the worst provisions contained in Dodd-Frank called the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers, and Entrepreneurs Act or Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10) by a party line vote of 233 to 186. Dodd-Frank codifies “too big to fail” policy, harms local community banks, restricts access to credit for investors and homebuyers, raises lending costs, reduces access to capital for small businesses, and created one of the most powerful and unaccountable federal agencies — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Evidence shows Dodd-Frank is one of the major factors responsible for the country’s historically slow economic recovery. The Financial CHOICE Act is a positive, first step toward the full repeal of Dodd-Frank and would provide significant financial regulatory reform that would boost our economy and increase income for all Americans.

 

Heritage Action endorsed the Financial CHOICE Act and key voted YES. Conservatives should urge the Senate to bring H.R. 10 to the floor and/or advance key provisions through the FY2018 budget reconciliation process. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the bill would reduce federal deficits by over $24 billion from 2017-2027.

 

Resources:

Heritage Action legislative endorsement, click here.

Heritage Action Key Vote, click here.

Sentinel Brief, click here.

Daily Signal blog, click here.

Congressional Budget Office report, click here.

 

Debt Ceiling: The White House has asked Congress to raise the debt ceiling by the end of July, but Treasury Secretary Mnuchin testified the administration can wait until the end of September, and Congressional Budget Office estimates suggest the timing could be mid-October. An increase for the remainder of the presidential term could approach $2.5 trillion. Democrats are currently divided on the debt ceiling, with some maintaining their demand for a clean increase while others seek to use the leverage to achieve liberal policy objects. There is no unified strategy on the left or the right at this point. Heritage Action has consistently argued that any increase in the debt limit should be paired with reforms that begin addressing the structural nature of America’s annual deficits.

 

Thank  you for your dedication to help your Member of Congress see the light on these important legislative issues.

 

Sincerely,

Melody

Melody Himel Clarke

(202) 716-9738

Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator

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melody.clarke@heritageaction.com