Obamacare, immigration, pet projects…oh my!
Yes, the government is facing another shutdown if Congress does not pass a spending bill to fund the government through the end of September by midnight on Friday.
It may not be that easy since some Republicans have scoffed at the $1.2 trillion price tag.
During this fiscal year, Congress passed five stopgap bills. In February, the lawmakers “approved a bill that would allow them to increase spending on defense and domestic programs by about $300 billion over two years.” This gave them six weeks to allocate the money.
Have they? Of course not! They have not released the omnibus bill. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) said “a four-month extension of the Federal Aviation Administration is likely to be included.” Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) thinks it will also includes funding for school safety and that President Donald Trump’s wall remains “in play.”
The same old problems could come back up: immigration and healthcare. From CNBC:
The bill this week is unlikely to include any provisions to extend protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump ended in September with a six-month delay. The Trump administration floated pairing money for the president’s proposed border wall with protections for the immigrants, but the idea fell flat. Court battles have left DACA in place, for now.
But lawmakers have still made immigration an issue this week.
Some Republicans have pushed for the bill to include more spending for immigration enforcement. Others want to add a provision that would allow the Trump administration to take funding away from so-called sanctuary cities. Democrats are unlikely to back either proposal.
The Affordable Care Act is also a sticking point. Some Democrats and Republicans want to include provisions to help lower health-care premium costs on Obamacare exchanges.
Conservatives have objected to what they call propping up the law they often criticize. Some Republicans also want to bar subsidies for insurers who cover abortion.
Republicans want the Hyde Amendment, which doesn’t allow federal funds to go towards abortion, “applied to any new funds aimed at lowering ObamaCare premiums.”
Democrats do not like this idea because they believe it “would represent an expansion of the Hyde Amendment to a new area of funding, preventing the government from offering money to any insurance plan that offered abortion coverage at all.”
One of the provisions that Republicans have criticized comes from Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN). From CNN:
The latest provision by Collins and Alexander would include $30 billion for an Obamacare stabilization measure aimed at keeping down the cost of health insurance across the board and three years of funding for cost-sharing reduction payments. The White House stopped making those payments in October. A preliminary analysis from the Congressional Budget Office showed the legislation would help curb health care costs by 10% next year and up to 20% in the following two years.
But despite support for the underlying reinsurance and cost-sharing reduction payments, the latest version of the plan to bolster the insurance market also includes restrictions for abortion, an effort to shore up Republican votes in the House. That is a sticking point for Democrats, who argue that Republicans are injecting a partisan fight into the legislation.
Weirdly enough, there has not been much talk about ending Obamacare’s employer mandate. Last month, The Hill reported that business groups have started to apply pressure on Congress to repeal this mandate.
Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) want to add a provision to suspend the mandate. The House may add it to the bill since the idea of suspending the mandate has caught steam:
House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told reporters this week he’s discussed a repeal or delay of the mandate with members of the committee and new Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, but did not specify a timeline.
“We want to make sure our businesses aren’t caught up in some sort of fines or punitive measures for the past three years,” Brady said.
“I think the goal would be to delay or repeal it in total, but retroactive as well.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also said this week incremental changes could be made to health care, but his office did not elaborate.
I hear silence from the Senate, which does not surprise me. With only a one seat majority, I don’t see the leaders bringing up something that will more than likely fail. I’m about 100% sure Collins would vote against the provision along with a few other moderates.
Unfortunately, this bill “is one of the last legislative” issues before the midterms in November, which means ALL THE PET PROJECTS.
Trump has objected to one provision for $900 million for “a rail tunnel project under the Hudson River.” Without the provision, lawmakers, including GOP, from New York and New Jersey may vote no. (Why not pay for that tunnel with local money? Why do I, who lives in Oklahoma, pay for it?!)
Rep. Pete King (R-NY) spoke about the project with Trump over the weekend, but didn’t say if Trump changed his mind in any way. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) believes the tunnel “will be in the omnibus bill.”DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.