Tuesday, 17 October, 2017

Congressional Republicans are beginning to assert themselves against Trump

Sen. Orrin Hatch Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images Sen. Orrin Hatch
Bennie Garza | 05 August, 2017, 23:40

"The president isn't giving up on health care and neither should the Senate", Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on the same morning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, was rolling out a scheme to cut taxes.

Senate Democrats and independents said Tuesday that upcoming legislation to rewrite the nation's tax code should ensure the middle class doesn't pay more and the "top 1 percent" doesn't pay less. Republicans have lost the edge even on taxes, with an even split - 43 percent to 43 percent - as to which party would do better on taxes.

With the failure of Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, there is an urgent need to address the law's problems.

That ignored the fact that Republicans tried to pass the health care bill under rules that required only a simple majority. But that is the plan, and McConnell has given the game away.

When constituents ask why Republicans haven't finished their long promised health care overhaul, passed a budget or crossed any big-ticket campaign promises off their to-do list, GOP leaders want members to point instead to the bills they have passed.

But this time around, Republicans are thinking they should attach spending cuts to a debt ceiling bill, while Democrats want Republicans to pledge they won't add more to the debt by giving tax cuts to the rich.

The House GOP tax blueprint backed by Ryan calls for a 20 percent corporate rate, while Trump's White House tax outline released in April sets a 15 percent rate. Two bipartisan groups of senators - Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Chris Coons, D-Del., as well as Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Cory Booker, D-N.J. - have introduced bills that would protect the special counsel against being fired without reason.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Wednesday that Senate Democrats are willing to work with Republicans on tax reform, such as simplifying the tax code. But that measure lacked support among Senate Republicans, who have so far failed to reach consensus on a healthcare plan.

"On health care, I did exactly what I said I would do when I ran", Blunt tells Newell, "and tried to convince at least one other person to join the 49 of us who couldn't get to a better place in the end". "The question is: Will the leadership, including the White House, see that unless you find some common ground here you're going down the same route you did on health care?".

"There is no detail", Yoho said in an interview.

Meanwhile, Congress closed up shop and went home for August recess. The House began its summer recess last week, but as senators rushed for the exits Thursday they were still pointing to the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court as their signal success, even though that happened back in April. A final bill likely will have to clear both congressional chambers.

Already, staff is working on draft legislation. It also said that they would not support any deficit-financed tax cuts which would endanger critical programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, or "other public investments for the future". But it doesn't spend a lot of time talking up the merits of the moribund proposal, despite the majority of the conference continuing to push the repeal and replace strategy after the Senate failed to pass its own bill.

"This won't be an easy process, but the people we represent are depending on us for help".

The GOP lawmaker said he supports bipartisan efforts to reform immigration laws that help undocumented immigrants working to support their families.

Kentucky Republicans, including McConnell and Gov. Matt Bevin, have openly campaigned for eliminating the Affordable Care Act, which expanded the state's Medicaid program and brought health insurance to almost half a million people.

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