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Posts in "Fred Upton"

December 30, 2013

The House Year in Review

This year, doing the business of the People’s House was, at best, a struggle. It’s well-known that 2013 was, legislatively, the least productive session in congressional history. Leaders strained to get to 218 — a majority in the 435-seat House (in case you had no idea where the blog name came from). And there were some pretty notable news stories as a result of all this congressional dysfunction.

But as painful as the year was for members, covering the House was a pleasure, one which we here at 218 only had the honor of doing for about half the year.

In that short time, 218 — or “Goppers,” as we were formerly known, which rhymes with “Whoppers,” for all you still wondering about that — had more than a few favorite stories.

Among the labors of love, there was a piece about the 10 Republicans who could one day be speaker, a story on an internal August playbook that went out to House Republicans telling them to profess how they were fighting Washington, and a piece (in response to his “calves the size of cantaloupes” comment) asking the question: How do you solve a problem like Steve King? Full story

November 15, 2013

Obamacare Website Was ‘in Jeopardy’ in July, Emails Reveal

ObamaCare Hearing 24 102413 445x268 Obamacare Website Was in Jeopardy in July, Emails Reveal

Upton released internal Obama administration emails Friday showing officials were concerned about HealthCare.gov’s functionality. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Friday released a string of administration emails regarding the construction of HealthCare.gov that provide insight as to why the health care website is so troubled.

In the internal email chains with officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, administration officials express serious concerns regarding having an insufficient number of web developers and insufficient money and time to complete the project.

“Administration officials looked us in the eye and told us everything was ‘on track’ but when we pull back the curtain now, the mess is disturbing,” Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton said in a statement. “What reason do the American people have to believe that the administration is capable of meeting its November 30 goal for fixing HealthCare.gov or its January 1 promise to deliver health care to Americans across the country?”

The Michigan Republican said the “botched rollout has created a serious question of competence and trust in the administration.”

Those questions might not be helped by the emails turned over to the committee.

Full story

House Passes Upton’s ‘If You Like It’ Obamacare Fix

cantor111513 445x294 House Passes Uptons If You Like It Obamacare Fix

A Republican proposal by Upton, second from right, to allow insurers to keep offering old insurance plans for another year passed the House on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House easily passed Republican legislation on Friday allowing insurers to keep offering old insurance plans for another year in response to President Barack Obama’s broken “if you like it, you can keep it” promise.

The bill passed 261-157 with all but four Republicans joined by 39 Democrats backing the bill sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich. Those Democrats defected despite strong opposition from their party leadership and President Barack Obama, who, hours after the White House announced an administrative fix Thursday, vowed he would veto the Upton bill. Full story

November 13, 2013

House Democrats’ Frustration With Obamacare Rollout Reaches Fever Pitch

House Democrats emerged from a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday morning worn thin from arguing with White House officials over the bumpy rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

One source in the room described Democratic lawmakers from across the political spectrum — from moderates in vulnerable districts to progressives in safe seats — as frustrated with the administration in equal measure.

They pushed David Simas, the White House deputy senior adviser for communications and strategy, to account for the glitches on the enrollment website and for President Barack Obama’s unfulfilled promise to Americans that if they liked their health insurance policies, they could keep them, regardless of what changes would be ushered in by the new health care law.

“I think in diplomatic terms we had a frank discussion,” Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., said. “I think there was a lot of frustration and in some cases anger vented towards the White House for their continued ham-fisted approach. It’s not just their credibility that’s on the line, but it’s our credibility.”

“Why can’t we call people who know how to do these things, who do it for corporate America, and say, ‘We have a website, fix it,’” said Rep. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y. “Maybe I’m being simplistic, but can’t we call Bill Gates up and say, ‘Take care of this?’ Or go to a college dorm and say, ‘You guys, you invented Yahoo, can you take care of this?’ Full story

November 12, 2013

Democratic Leaders Will Oppose Upton’s Obamacare Bill

pelosi 240 101713 445x281 Democratic Leaders Will Oppose Uptons Obamacare Bill

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Democratic leadership team is united in opposition to a bill that would block the cancellation of health insurance policies that don’t comport with the stricter standards of Obamacare.

That doesn’t mean there won’t still be defections within the rank and file, but it is significant that the most senior House Democrats plan to stand together to fight the legislation.

On Tuesday afternoon, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters at his weekly pen and pad briefing that he was “not closed” to the possibility of voting for the bill sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.

After all, Hoyer said, President Barack Obama should have had more “precision” when he told the American people that if they liked their health insurance, they could keep it under the new health law — a promise that has not been entirely fulfilled as the Obamacare rollout continues.

But hours later, Hoyer was ready to say he would, without question, oppose the bill. Full story

Hoyer ‘Not Closed’ to Voting for Upton Obamacare Bill

hoyer002 111213 445x314 Hoyer Not Closed to Voting for Upton Obamacare Bill

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Just minutes before the White House slammed a House GOP bill aimed at President Barack Obama’s “if you like it, you can keep it” promise regarding health care plans, the No. 2 House Democrat said he was open to supporting the proposed change to the Affordable Care Act.

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer’s willingness to consider voting for the bill, scheduled for floor consideration on Friday, underscores the difficulty many Democrats face in wanting to deal with the dust-up over health insurance policy cancellations while still supporting the president.

“I don’t know what I’m gonna do on the Upton bill,” the Maryland Democrat said at a Tuesday briefing with reporters when discussing legislation sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.

Hoyer noted that he was “inclined not to be for the Upton bill at this time,” but he emphasized that he was “not closed to the option,” and would “reserve judgment” until he had seen the legislative text, which is reportedly undergoing some tweaks.

“I agree that people who purchased their policies prior to [the law's enactment date] ought to be able to keep their policies,” he said. Full story

November 8, 2013

House Democratic Staffers to Huddle With White House on Health Care Law Fixes

White House staff will huddle with Democratic aides on Friday to discuss administrative tweaks to the health care law that would allow individuals to keep their insurance policies even if those policies don’t meet some standards established by the law.

A House Democratic leadership aide told CQ Roll Call that Obama administration officials are scheduled to meet on Capitol Hill with aides to the chamber’s Democratic leaders and ranking members of committees. This aide did not say when the meeting would take place or whether there would be a read-out of what was discussed.

But the meeting is significant: On Thursday in an interview with NBC, President Barack Obama said he was sorry that some Americans are frustrated about losing their current policies. “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that we know we hear them,” he said. Full story

November 6, 2013

House to Take Up Obamacare Fix Bill Next Week

Energized by the woes of the early days of Obamacare implementation, House Republicans will return to Capitol Hill next week to pass another bill chipping away at what they consider a failing law.

On Wednesday afternoon, midway through the chamber’s recess week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., took to Twitter to announce leadership’s plans to bring up the “Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013.” Full story

October 30, 2013

Best Moments From the Sebelius Obamacare Hearing (Video)

From quoting the “Wizard of Oz” to comparing red Solo cups and wine glasses, House Republicans grilled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday, questioning the HealthCare.gov website as well as the underlying law.

The hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last more than three and a half hours. Watch the best moments from today:

August 30, 2013

Town Hall Roundup, Week 4: Republicans Making News

Well, we’ve almost made it to the end of the five-week August recess, during which House Republicans who chose to engage with their constituents did so at their own peril, risking ire-filled confrontations over Obamacare and whether undocumented immigrants should get legal status.

This week, members fielded questions on other topics in the news and, in many cases, made headlines themselves.

Addressing an audience in his home state of Florida on Wednesday, second-term Republican Rep. Rich Nugent cast aspersions on the leadership capabilities of Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.

“I try not to ever criticize anyone in public,” Nugent said, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times, “but at the end of the day, I don’t think we’re getting the leadership we need to get from the speaker of the House.”

During a visit with a conservative group in Charleston, S.C., Iowa Republican Steve King caught the attention of the left-wing blogosphere for saying that too few Americans were working hard enough to warrant government hand-outs.

According to RedAlert News, King called America under President Barack Obama a “dependency state” that would only increase as “we borrow money from China to pay people not to work, and we say we’re going to grow our GDP because we have sympathy for people that are in this country illegally.”

Then there were members who made headlines by not making public appearances at all, such as Idaho Republican Mike Simpson and Energy and Commerce  Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan. Full story

May 9, 2013

House GOP Seizes On Kermit Gosnell Abortion Trial

The high-profile trial of a Philadelphia abortion doctor charged with killing four babies and a Virginia woman has had rank-and-file House Republicans looking for legislative action, and now leadership is also starting to weigh in.

In a Thursday afternoon press release, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. praised two committee chairmen for earlier this week demanding answers from officials in all 50 states regarding what they are doing to combat late-term abortions, such as those that may have taken place at Kermit Gosnell’s clinic. Full story

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