Lamar Alexander

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 Republicans Raise Questions About Health Care Bill
‘My concern is this doesn’t repeal Obamacare,’ Rand Paul says

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy talks with reporters Thursday after a meeting in the Capitol on the Senate Republicans’ health care draft. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A few key Senate Republicans are already raising concerns with the discussion draft of a health care bill unveiled Thursday, which could threaten its passage if the measure comes up for a vote next week.

Multiple senators raised concerns with the draft they were briefed on Thursday morning, although many said they needed to review the proposal in full. Senate GOP leaders can only lose two Republican votes on the measure for it to pass with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote as no Democrats are expected to vote for the measure. GOP leaders hope to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote next week.

Staff Departures Undermine GOP Legislative Agenda
A number of key health and tax aides have left Capitol Hill

Eric Ueland, staff director for the Senate Budget Committee, is one of many high-profile staffers leaving Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Key Republican staffers are departing Capitol Hill with the GOP in control of Congress and the White House, raising questions about how the party will advance its ambitious agenda to overhaul the U.S. tax code and health care system.

Senior personnel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee have departed and lobbyists say others are preparing to depart the Senate Finance Committee. A handful of health policy staffers for members on those panels have also left for jobs off Capitol Hill and a key individual on the Senate Budget Committee was recently nominated for a senior post at the State Department.

Republicans Weigh Funding to Stabilize Health Insurance Market
The GOP bill to overhaul the health law could include upwards of $30 billion

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and other Republicans have said Congress should provide some way to stabilize the individual health insurance exchange markets. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans are weighing a major move to help stabilize the insurance markets created by President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement in their legislation to overhaul the U.S. health care system.

The chamber’s counterpart legislation to the House-passed bill to repeal and replace the 2010 health law could include up to $30 billion in funding to help the shaky individual insurance exchange, a GOP aide and lobbyists tell Roll Call. That would be divided into $15 billion each year, the Republican aide said.

Nuclear Waste Deadlock Hurts Industry, Say Senate Appropriators
‘What I see is a big downward slope for the industry’

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is concerned that there will be stasis over the debate on where to store the nation's nuclear waste. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Leaders on the Senate Energy-Water Appropriations Subcommittee agreed Wednesday that the fiscal 2018 spending bill needs to include a path forward on the nation’s nuclear waste stalemate — or risk accelerating the industry’s decline.

In a hearing to examine the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s fiscal 2018 budget request, the top Democrat on the subcommittee, California’s Dianne Feinstein, questioned the viability of the nuclear industry if a nuclear waste policy stasis takes hold of Congress.

Republicans Return From Recess Under Health Care Time Crunch
Key decisions on Obamacare repeal bill will need to be made in the coming weeks

From left, Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, and John Thune of South Dakota, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn conduct a news conference after the Senate policy luncheons in the Capitol on Feb. 28. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican senators return on Monday from a 10-day recess with immediate decisions to make on their quest to overhaul the 2010 health care law.

While Senate leaders have largely avoided putting any artificial timelines on their endeavor, the GOP is under an extreme time crunch to produce and advance their own legislation to match the House bill that narrowly passed the chamber last month.

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.

Republican Senator Seeks to Save Obamacare Before Dismantling It
Lamar Alexander advocating for two-step approach to repealing law

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander is advocating short-term market stabilization measures for the 2010 health care law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Lamar Alexander has found himself in an uncommon position for most Republicans this year: Trying to save the shaky insurance markets created by the 2010 health care law before attending to a major overhaul of the law.

The opinions of the Tennessee’s senior senator carry significant weight among his colleagues. He is a close confidant of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and also chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Senate Takes Baby Steps on Health Care Overhaul
Meetings have focused on ‘brainstorming’ and sharing ideas

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is giving his caucus a wide berth in discussing health insurance legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

By JOE WILLIAMS and ERIN MERSHON, CQ Roll Call

Senate Republicans remain in the very early stages of revamping a House bill to repeal the 2010 health care law: the ideas stage, as one of them puts it.

Post-Comey Senate Forecast Is Turbulent
Procedural roadblocks could set back legislative ambitions

Aides to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer declined to comment on what steps Democrats planned to take should none of their demands on the Russia probe be met. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BY JOE WILLIAMS AND NIELS LESNIEWSKI

A partisan standoff in the fallout of the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey could significantly stall the Senate legislative calendar, as Democrats appear ready to utilize procedural rules to coerce Republicans into acting on a number of demands.