Filibuster

Health Care Politics Serve as Senate Bill Text Prelude
Wednesday’s campaign fodder a preview of Thursday’s discussion draft

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is preparing to release a draft bill to rework the U.S. health insurance system he has assembled in secret. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate procedural wonks huddled Wednesday with the parliamentarian’s office, making their case for whether Republican legislation to rework the health insurance system complies with the chamber’s rules, even as Washington braced for the release of the draft GOP measure. 

Over the next week, though, the debate will play out on both the procedural and political fields.

Activists Applaud Senate Democrats’ Harder Line on GOP Health Care Bill
In the days before the bill's expected unveiling, Senate Democrats seem to be listening

Senate Democrats rally against Medicaid cuts in front of the Capitol two weeks ago. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Senate Republicans prepare to release a draft of their health care bill and attempt to pass it before the July 4 recess, activists are applauding Senate Democrats for pulling out all the stops to derail it.

At a Wednesday rally against the bill hosted by Senate Democrats, activist groups and unions including Ultraviolet, Moms Rising, MoveOn, the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of Teachers, Sen. Debbie Stabenow said, “We have a very simple message: ‘No hearing, no vote.’”

James Hodgkinson Had Been Frequent Critic of GOP
66-year-old Illinois man identified as shooter at Republicans’ baseball practice

In this undated file photo, James Hodgkinson holds a sign during a protest outside of a United States Post Office in Belleville, Ill. Hodgkinson has been identified as the suspect in the Wednesday, June 14, 2017, Washington D.C. shooting. (Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat via AP)

James T. Hodgkinson, who wounded five people at Republicans’ congressional baseball practice Wednesday morning before later dying at a local hospital, had been critical of the Republican party.

Hodgkinson, 66, was from Belleville, Illinois, a town outside St. Louis represented by GOP Rep. Mike Bost. The two-term member is not on the baseball team.

Will GOP Settle for a Clean Debt Limit Win?
No other legislative victories in sight

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin arrives for a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled “Domestic and International Policy Update,” on May 18, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Both repelling and wallowing in a manufactured crisis are surefire ways for the Capitol to put itself in the headlines. That’s why some fresh drama fabrication is getting underway, even before the lawmakers have decided if their response will be crisply responsible or melodramatically craven.

This morality play will be about the federal debt, which is not going anywhere except up in the near term, no matter what anyone in Washington says or does to the contrary.

Senate Rules Might Still Trip Health Care Bill
Democrats say questions remain, while GOP says ‘it’s over’

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, left, ranking member on the Budget Committee, says it’s still unclear whether the House health care bill passes muster. Also pictured, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Washington Sen. Patty Murray. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats believe there are still outstanding questions whether the House bill to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law complies with the budget procedure Republicans are employing to move the legislation with just majority support. 

Emails obtained by Roll Call show that while the Senate parliamentarian initially weighed in on a key provision that Democrats said could be fatal for the bill, that decision was later clarified to only address a small portion of that overall section. And the potential decisions by the parliamentarian on the outstanding questions, Democratic aides say, could significantly set back the GOP effort to overhaul President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

Senate Democrats Say GOP Health Care Bill Has Technical Flaw
‘Fatal’ violation could be lurking

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden speaks during the Senate Democrats' rally against Medicaid cuts in front of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats argue that the House-passed health care bill contains a flaw that would prevent Republicans from using a powerful legislative tool to move the measure over the minority party’s opposition. If the Senate parliamentarian agrees, that could prove a formidable obstacle to GOP plans to clear a major bill revising the 2010 health care law.

Democrats want the Senate parliamentarian to rule that the House bill ran afoul of the complex rules of so-called budget reconciliation, due to a provision that touches on the Indian Health Service. The House bill repeals a section of the 2010 law that created cost-sharing subsidies. Democrats say the provision that would be repealed falls into the jurisdiction of the Indian Affairs Committee, which was not specifically designated as a participant in the House’s detailed reconciliation plan in the fiscal 2017 budget resolution.

No Summer Job? Hill Turns to Make-Work Budgeting
Broken appropriations system is no friend to unified GOP government

President Donald Trump and his nominal congressional allies have fallen far behind the budgetary schedule, creating a policymaking void, Hawkings writes. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images File Photo)

Approaching a half year back in control over Washington, Republicans still lack decent prospects for securing their first meaningful legislative accomplishment — and so they’re anxiously casting about for something productive to do with their summer.

But their most readily available option, trying to create at least the appearance of restoring some regular order to routine appropriations, is essentially guaranteed to generate little beyond disappointment.

Podcast: In Congress, GOP at a Legislative Standstill
The Big Story, Episode 56

Even with the first all-Republican government in a decade, Congress has yet to send any meaningful legislation to President Donald Trump, say CQ Roll Call congressional leadership reporters Niels Lesniewski and Lindsey McPherson. They explain why health care, taxes, the budget and confirmations will likely remain stuck at least through the summer.

Opinion: If Trump Wanted ‘Fast and Easy,’ He’s in the Wrong Job
Democracy is hard, Mr. President

President Donald Trump wants the Senate to be ‘fast and easy.’ But that’s not how democracy works, Patricia Murphy writes. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In all of the hundreds, if not thousands, of volumes written about the United States Senate, I’d be willing to bet that “fast and easy” has never been used to describe the chamber or what it should be — until Tuesday, when President Donald Trump tweeted that the Senate should “switch to 51 votes immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy....”

Putting aside the fact that Democrats never did abandon the legislative filibuster, it’s hard to think of a term that applies less to the Senate and the role it is designed to play than “fast and easy,” especially because the Founding Fathers created the Senate for the sole purpose of making sure that writing the laws for a large, diverse country would be the exact opposite of “fast and easy.”

Opinion: A GOP Guide to Running for Cover on Health Care
Three ways to overcome troubling diagnosis from the CBO

Cheered on by President Donald Trump, it was easy for House Republicans to believe that the CBO would find that their health care bill provided quality affordable health insurance for every single American while saving the Treasury trillions of dollars,  Walter Shapiro writes. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Long ago (that is, back in the days when James Comey was still FBI director), House Republicans rushed their health care bill through by a two-vote margin without waiting for the verdict of the Congressional Budget Office. That early May, haste was understandable since the victorious House Republicans were due at the White House for an Oval Office celebration of a bill that (“Whoops, we forgot about the Senate”) had not actually become a law.

There appeared to be no need for House Republicans to fret about the CBO score since, after all, Donald Trump had already promised in a tweet that “healthcare is coming along great … and it will end in a beautiful picture!” So it was easy for GOP legislators to imagine that the nonpartisan experts at the CBO would find that their bill provided quality affordable health insurance for every single American while saving the Treasury trillions of dollars.