John Barrasso

Now vs. Then: Senate Republicans on Health Care Overhaul
Some singing same song, others flip flop

A group of 13 Senate Republicans worked on the health care overhaul bill released Thursday. From left, Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas on June 6, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Prior to the release of Senate legislation to overhaul U.S. health care Thursday, Democrats took aim at Republican leadership for crafting a bill largely behind closed doors.

Seven years ago, roles were reversed as Senate Republicans railed against Democrats for a lack of transparency in the passage of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. 

Senate Obamacare Repeal Bill Largely an Entitlement Overhaul
Proposal would maintain key aspects of the 2010 health care law

From left, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso conduct a news conference after the Senate policy luncheons in the Capitol last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A draft of the Senate counterpart legislation to overhaul the U.S. health insurance system unveiled Thursday would make drastic changes to the Medicaid program, but largely retain the existing federal tax credit structure from the 2010 health care law that helps individuals afford insurance, among other provisions. 

The proposal is part of the Republicans’ seven-year effort to gut former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. Senate GOP leadership, which has crafted the bill largely behind closed doors with virtually no public input, has faced difficulty in bridging the gap between moderate and conservative demands.

Rural Areas Brace for Health Care Bill Impact
Senate GOP bill could undermine health insurance coverage

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is concerned her state's residents could lose out on health insurance safeguards. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate historically has paid special attention to the needs of rural areas, but as the chamber readies its health care bill, there are concerns that the bill would undermine coverage in those places more than anywhere else.

While the exact text of the Senate bill is not yet posted publicly, all signs point to somewhat similar language to the House bill (HR 1628), which would reduce funding for Medicaid compared to current law and impose caps on Medicaid funding. Under the House bill, older people also would face higher premiums — and rural areas tend to be home to a large number of older Americans.

Senate Obamacare Repeal Vote Possible Next Week

From left, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., could ask their colleagues to vote on a bill reordering the health insurance system as early as next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate could vote as early as next Thursday on legislation to reader the U.S. health care system, a lawmaker and lobbyists tell CQ Roll Call.

That is an ambitious timeline, especially since no legislative language has been made public and several lawmakers are still unsure exactly what proposals are under consideration. But GOP aides say Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is eager to move on past the health care issue and is charging ahead with a vote despite the uncertainty surrounding whether it could pass.

Corn State Lawmakers Get Ethanol Hearing

Sen. Deb Fischer’s legislation would ease restrictions on the sale of ethanol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bowing to pressure from corn state lawmakers, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso allowed a hearing on legislation that would ease restrictions on the sale of gasoline blended with at least 15 percent ethanol, a measure he opposes.

The bill (S 517) sponsored by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., would order the EPA to waive its rule prohibiting the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent corn-based ethanol, also known as E15, during the summer months. The prohibition was based on findings that tied the mixture to smog-causing emissions during warm weather.

Democrats Decry ‘Legislative Malpractice’ on Health Care
GOP cites seven-year repeal effort as justification for current process

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is throwing Republicans’ prior statements about health care back at them. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats on Tuesday continued to assail how Republican leaders are crafting legislation to overhaul the U.S. health care system, calling it “legislative malpractice,” and are using GOP leaders’ own statements from years past to make their point.  

While Republican members routinely criticize the manner in which Democrats passed the 2010 health care law on a strictly party-line vote, there are stark differences between that process and the current one.

Senators Worry US Standing Abroad Is at Risk
Trump early actions draw resistance from both sides of the aisle

Arizona Sen. John McCain is among the senators concerned about the effect of President Donald Trump’s positions on foreign policy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senators on both sides of the aisle are raising alarms about President Donald Trump’s foreign policy and questioning whether the administration’s actions threaten the United States’ position as a global leader.

Trump has rattled the international community and lawmakers say it has left U.S. allies scrambling for certainty from an administration that often sends conflicting messages about its positions on major diplomatic issues.

Bipartisan Buzzsaw for Trump Plan to Sell Power Assets

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., is helping lead opposition to the Trump administration's plan to sell off the nation's power marketing administrations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bipartisan groups of House and Senate lawmakers have made clear their opposition to the sale of the nation’s power marketing administrations.

President Donald Trump’s budget request for the Energy Department includes the ability to sell the transmission assets of the Western Area, Southwestern and Bonneville power administrations, which together market and transmit electricity to power providers in more than 34 states.

Trump Withdraws US From Paris Climate Agreement
President says country could re-enter accord under a ‘deal that’s fair’

President Donald Trump will announce his decision on the Paris Agreement on Thursday afternoon. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

BY ELVINA NAWAGUNA AND JOHN T. BENNETTUpdated 4:26 p.m. | President Donald Trump said the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, fulfilling a campaign promise and handing victory to Republican lawmakers who had pushed for an exit from what they termed a bad deal that would put a drag on the U.S. economy.

Trump left open the possibility of re-entering the accord after renegotiating a “deal that’s fair.”

Senate Strategy on House Health Care Bill: That’s Not Ours
Republican members sidestep commenting on CBO report

From left, Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, arrive for a news conference after the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol, March 14, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans have a plan to avoid answering questions on the House legislation to repeal large portions of the 2010 health law: to say it’s not their bill.

The chamber on Friday begins a 10-day recess and lawmakers could face questions from constituents about a recent analysis on the House bill by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The report, released on Wednesday, said that the legislation would result in 23 million more uninsured individuals over the next decade compared to the current law’s trajectory.