Lamar Alexander

Opinion: Why HELP Could Be on the Way for Obamacare Recipients
Hopeful signs of bipartisan consensus on fixing health care markets

Senate HELP Committee leaders Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray could help spear bipartisan consensus in Congress for a short-term fix for Americans struggling to afford health insurance, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Lamar Alexander had barely announced his plans to hold hearings next month on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on stabilizing the insurance markets for Obamacare when the idea started getting panned.

Keep in mind there are no specific hearings scheduled yet, no witnesses, no bill written, and few parameters of what is on or off the table. Alexander, the committee chairman, has only said that he wants a final product to be “small, bipartisan, and balanced,” but he hasn’t said what that means, other than flexibility for states and short-term triage for the exchanges.

How the Health Care Industry Has Been Giving to Congress
FEC reports show millions of dollars spent already this year

Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., conducts the confirmation hearing for Alex Acosta, nominee for Secretary of Labor, in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in Dirksen Building, March 22, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

BY SEAN MCMINN AND RYAN KELLY

As health care came to the forefront this year in Washington, groups focused on the issue continued using their political action committees to attempt to influence the debate.

Bipartisan Health Care Work Taking Shape in Senate
Finance, HELP committees plan hearings after recess

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, right, and ranking member Ron Wyden of Oregon will preside over health care hearings in September. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate Finance Committee is set to hold September hearings on proposals for overhauling federal health care policies, including a plan for reauthorizing a program that serves about 5.7 million children, according to Chairman Orrin G. Hatch announced Thursday.

The Finance panel is taking the same approach as the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which also announced plans for bipartisan work after Republicans failed last week to advance a partisan measure to roll back much of the Democrats’ 2010 health care law. The HELP Committee plans to hold hearings the first week of September, after returning from the August recess.

White House Pushes ‘Implode’ Plan Amid Talk of Bipartisan Health Bill
WH official: Trump’s tweet endorsing deal after Obamacare failure is preferred path

President Donald Trump waves from the top of the stairs before boarding Air Force One Friday on his way to  Ronkonkoma, N.Y. to speak to law enforcement officers. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By JOHN T. BENNETT And NIELS LESNIEWSKIUpdated at 4:47 p.m. Amid pleas from Republicans and Democrats for the parties to begin work on a bipartisan health care bill, President Donald Trump and White House officials on Friday doubled down on his call to put off any action until Barack Obama’s 2010 law fails.

Ailing Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain shocked senators from both parties early Friday morning when he voted against a GOP leadership-crafted measure that amounted only to a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Back in Washington after a brain tumor diagnosis, McCain made clear his vote was a shove for the entire Senate to get back to “regular order” — meaning hearings and floor debate — on health care and every other issue.

Schumer Outlines Some Democratic Priorities for Health Care
The Democratic leader wants the two parties to work together

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., conducts a news conference in the Capitol to discuss the defeat of the Republicans’ healthcare bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said he hopes Democrats and Republicans can work together to address health care, and he has a few ideas about what they should tackle first.

Senate Republicans failed earlier in the day to garner enough votes for a last-ditch effort to repeal major components of the Affordable Care Act. Their push to fulfill a years-long promise to repeal Obamacare ended — at least for the time being — with a dramatic 49-51 vote around 2 a.m. on Friday. So Democrats, led by Schumer, are saying they want to work with Republicans to fix the Affordable Care Act instead of dismantling it. 

Word on the Hill: Week Wrap Up
Tennis tournament results, Baby Desk report, bossy staffers

A Capitol employee pushes a cot towards Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s suite of offices in the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It’s the end of a very long congressional week.

Senators spent the night in the Capitol and I’m sure many of you reading this now are running on little — or no — sleep.

Some GOP Skepticism of Sending Obamacare Repeal to Conference
Questions about what the ‘skinny’ bill would produce

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has some concerns about what may happen when the House and Senate go to conference on health care. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Several senators are expressing skepticism about the emerging Republican plan to pass a bill rolling back “skinny” pieces of the 2010 health care law and then hope for a broader agreement in a conference committee with the House.

Kansas Republican Jerry Moran, who was one of the senators who came out against the broader Senate health care bill, told Roll Call he is concerned about entering a conference without a real Senate position.

Senate Rejects Obamacare 'Repeal and Delay' Proposal
Updated 2015 proposal turned back as health care reconciliation debate continues

Sen. Rand Paul has championed the “repeal and delay” approach. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans on Wednesday were unable to garner the votes necessary to pass a measure to repeal large portions of the 2010 health law with a two-year delay.

Seven GOP senators joined with Democrats to sink the proposal, 45-55. The failure highlights the continued struggle Senate Republican leadership is facing in coalescing their conference around one health care proposal. Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rob Portman of Ohio voted no. 

Capitol Rocked by Musicians, Fans in Congress
 

Senate Health Care Failure Prompts Republican Soul Searching
Onus falls to Mitch McConnell to unite GOP conference

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, seen here Tuesday with Majority Whip John Cornyn, is facing questions over his strategy used in crafting the health care bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell employed an iron fist over the Republican health care effort, keeping top lieutenants in the dark about key decisions and withholding detailed policy information from the conference as a whole until just before it was released publicly.

Now with the seven-year effort to gut the 2010 health care law in tatters, it falls on the Kentucky Republican to deal with the aftermath, and quell concerns about whether he can continue to lead effectively.