senate

Little Agreement Among GOP Members on Health Care Bill Next Steps
Regular conference meeting canceled ahead of Freedom Caucus meeting with Trump

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers said repeal of the so-called essential health benefits provision in the Republican health care plan, which Freedom Caucus members have pushed for, might not be allowed under Senate rules. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans had hoped to vote on a bill to partially repeal and replace the landmark 2010 health care law on Thursday, seven years to the day after President Barack Obama signed it. Instead, they find themselves without the votes to do so and little agreement on their next move.

The House GOP conference’s weekly Thursday planning meeting, at which lawmakers might have decided on next steps, was canceled Thursday morning. Members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, which opposed the bill, are scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump at 11:30 a.m., so progress on the bill may not be made until midday Thursday or later.

Senators Working the Ref Already on Health Care Bill
Parliamentarian rulings could make or break GOP legislation

Sen. Bill Cassidy is among the senators looking to make sure any health legislation or amendments will comply with the Senate’s procedural rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As House Republicans struggle to cobble together the votes to pass legislation to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, members are already looking to navigate the Senate’s labyrinth of procedural rules that could make or break the measure. 

Senate Democrats are already setting up for the battle with the parliamentarian about which provisions could run up against the Byrd Rule, which requires budget reconciliation bills that can pass with a simple-majority vote to be primarily about spending and revenues, without extraneous matter.

Nuclear Option Looms as Supreme Court Hearings Wrap Up
Senators ready to blame opposing party for any upending of Senate rules

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch testifies on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings wrapping up, senators will soon confront whether his nomination will upend Senate rules.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet said  whether he would move to change Senate rules that currently require 60 votes to end debate on Gorsuch’s nomination. If eight members of the Democratic caucus do not join the 52 Republicans to move the nomination forward, McConnell could move to change the rules, lowering the threshold to a simple majority.

Members Show School Spirit as Sweet 16 Games Begin
Manchin, Cortez Masto go head-to-head while other members are torn

The Sweet 16 round of the NCAA March Madness starts today and members are showing their school spirit. And talking a little smack.

Sen. Joe Manchin III is the only member of Congress who is an alumnus of West Virginia University — he graduated with a business administration degree.

Word on the Hill: Staffers Give Back
Athletes and tweetstorms

Senate staffer Annie Humphrey donates blood with the Armed Services Blood Program on Monday. (Giovanni Rodriguez/Armed Services Blood Program)

More than 70 Senate staffers donated 56 units of blood in the first-ever Senate Armed Services Blood Program blood drive.

Staff members from the Armed Services Blood Bank Center at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, hosted a four-hour drive for Senate staffers on Monday.

The Supreme Court Confirmation Battle That Began 30 Years Ago
Three senators on Judiciary panel weathered watershed 1987 fight

Judge Robert Bork, nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court, is sworn before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing in September 1987. (John Duricka/AP File Photo)

In one of the more striking moments from the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch this week, Sen. Charles E. Grassley offered this advice:

Don’t answer every question.

White House to Skeptical GOP Members on Health Bill: This Is It
President meets with various members, Republican and Democrat, over course of day

President Donald Trump still doesn't have the House votes to pass the GOP health plan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The White House intensified its game of chicken with Republican lawmakers over the party’s health care overhaul plan, saying there is no Plan B.

Even as one GOP lawmaker told Roll Call there likely are around 30 “no” votes among the Republican conference — more than enough to sink the legislation — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer warned members of his party “this is it.”

White House Health Care Full-Court Press Changes Few Minds
Trump, Ryan lack needed 216 votes in House, says Freedom Caucus chairman

President Donald Trump and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price arrive in the Capitol to meet with the House Republican Conference about the party’s health overhaul bill on Tuesday morning. Despite Trump’s full-court press, there was little evidence he changed many minds. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A White House in full-court press mode deployed President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to call out and fire up Republican members about the party’s health care overhaul bill, but there was scant evidence it worked.

Trump made a rare morning trek to the Capitol’s basement in his quest for the 216 Republican votes, where he addressed the GOP House caucus with his signature brashness: Members present said he called out reluctant members, including Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, by name. A few hours later, Pence tried to keep skeptical GOP senators in the loop about what kind of bill they might soon receive.

Opinion: Are Republicans Storming the Castle or Walking the Plank on Health Care?
Upcoming health care vote could have consequences for 2018

Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, was singled out by President Donald Trump at Tuesday’s House GOP conference meeting for not yet voicing his support for the Republican health care plan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans are getting leaned on, hard, to vote for the GOP health care bill. First came the invitations to the White House Bowling Alley. Then the lunch dates. Still hunting for votes over the weekend, President Donald Trump flew members to Mar-a-Lago. But by Tuesday, with a floor vote looming, President Trump was naming names at the GOP caucus meeting. “Mark Meadows?” the president said, looking for the leader of the Freedom Caucus, who has still not said he’ll vote for the bill. “Stand up, Mark. … Mark, I’m going to come after you.”

The White House later said that the president was “just having fun” at the caucus meeting. But when a White House goes into full whip mode, which this White House obviously has, it’s time for the members on the sharp side of the whip to ask themselves whether they’re being asked to storm the castle or walk the plank. In other words, will their vote on health care this week help deliver a successful, necessary legislative victory, or are they being asked to support a bill that may not pass, may not work, or may cost them and their party their seats in two years’ time.

Vulnerable Senate Democrats Stand Firm in Opposing GOP Health Care Plan
Senators in tight races are making a moral argument against the bill

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III talks with constituents during a town hall meeting in Martinsburg, W.Va., last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Senate Democrats up for re-election in Republican-leaning states are united in opposition to the GOP health care plan.

For them, overhauling the health care system is not just about policy. It’s a matter of right and wrong.