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April 20, 2014

Posts in "Health Care"

April 10, 2014

Boehner Hammers Obama Administration Over Benghazi, IRS (Video)

Speaker John A. Boehner had a few things to say Thursday morning.

During his weekly press conference, which lasted just over 6 minutes, Boehner criticized former director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, Lois G. Lerner, and knocked Democrats for playing politics rather than working with Republicans to create jobs. But Boehner most notably and vociferously went after the Obama administration for putting up roadblocks to answers on Benghazi, Fast and Furious and the IRS scandal.

The Ohio Republican also addressed the recent kissing controversy surrounding Louisiana Republican Vance McAllister, saying he had spoken to the freshman Congressman and expects all members to be held to the highest ethical standards.

Boehner said Republicans were “trying to build a consensus” on an Obamacare replacement bill, and were waiting for Democrats to offer an unemployment extension that was paid for and would address the economic problems in the United States.

Boehner’s press conference turned into an outburst, however, when he fielded a question from Fox News’s Chad Pergram regarding Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s intimation that he had been treated unfairly because of his race.

Watch the full press conference below:

April 2, 2014

Obama Signing Cantor’s Pediatric Bill, Leader Will Attend White House Photo Op

cantor003 071111 445x295 Obama Signing Cantors Pediatric Bill, Leader Will Attend White House Photo Op

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., will make a rare trip to the White House Thursday afternoon to attend a bill signing ceremony for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act.

The bill is named for a young girl who died of brain cancer last year and who was an advocate for pediatric research. Cantor will be joined by the Miller family, who are his constituents.

The bill, which seeks to increase funding for pediatric research, was a key priority for Cantor and marked an unusual election-year bipartisan victory.

Full story

Conservatives Still Fuming Over Secret ‘Doc Fix’ Voice Vote (Video) (Updated)

Updated 5:14 p.m. | Conservative House members confronted Speaker John A. Boehner at a private Wednesday morning meeting, fuming that last week’s secret deal to pass the “doc fix” violated the trust between leaders and their rank and file.

Then, at a private meeting of the conservative Republican Study Committee later in the afternoon, members challenged Majority Leader Eric Cantor, asking the Virginia Republican to explain why leaders pushed the bill through without allowing members to cast their votes.

It remains unclear whether there will be any lasting implications to the tactic, but members are still angry and say leaders have yet to satisfy their complaints.

“What I didn’t hear was, ‘I promise this’ll never happen again.’ I think that’s something that has to happen,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said. “It isn’t that anyone broke their word at this point, but they need to give their word.” Full story

April 1, 2014

Ryan Says Budget Roadmap Will Pass House

GOP Caucus 21 121113 445x315 Ryan Says Budget Roadmap Will Pass House

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan defended his spending blueprint Tuesday and said he is confident the House will pass it, despite GOP opposition to the underpinning bipartisan budget agreement last year.

The Wisconsin Republican, speaking on a conference call with reporters, said the resolution will likely draw enough votes to pass, despite 62 Republican defections to a deal he struck in December with Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. That deal set spending levels for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, to which Ryan’s budget conforms.

“Members who may not have supported the Ryan-Murray deal see that this is an entirely different deal and a different perspective in the context of actually balancing the budget and paying off our debt,” Ryan said. “Our colleagues who we have visited with frequently are pleased to support this budget because of its overall goals. The good clearly outweighs any other concerns that they had.” Full story

Highest Ranking Latino in Congress, Xavier Becerra Comes Into His Own

dems004 011414 445x305 Highest Ranking Latino in Congress, Xavier Becerra Comes Into His Own

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated, April 2, 1:15 p.m. | In 2001, just shy of a decade in the House, Rep. Xavier Becerra suggested he was more of a policy wonk than a power broker.

“I understand the politics,” he told a Los Angeles Times reporter. “I’m not the best at playing the game.”

Thirteen years later, whether he was being self-effacing or somewhat disingenuous is debatable. But one thing’s become clear in the intervening decade: As a political operator, Becerra’s come into his own.

Full story

March 26, 2014

‘Doc Fix’ Deal Passes Without Roll Call Vote (Updated) (Video)

boehner 061 020614 445x296 Doc Fix Deal Passes Without Roll Call Vote (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated March 27, 12:49 a.m. | The House passed controversial “doc fix” legislation with a voice vote Thursday, after House GOP leaders spent hours scrambling to round up votes for the deal backed by Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The power move bypassed a recorded roll call vote, with the votes remaining in doubt, incensing some members of the House. Asked if she went along with the voice vote plan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., simply said “yes.”

Without a roll call vote, it’s impossible to know exactly who would have voted for or against the measure, or if it would have had the two-thirds needed to pass on the suspension calendar.

The House had recessed unexpectedly Thursday morning as GOP leaders sought to round up the votes needed to pass the measure ensuring Medicare payments to doctors aren’t cut.

“It’s looking very good,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said earlier. “We’re working on it.”

Immediately after GOP aides told CQ Roll Call the bill would be pulled Thursday morning for a lack of votes, the House Republican Doctors Caucus, which had been opposed to the measure, huddled in a room off of the House floor and were soon joined by GOP leaders. Staff was kicked out of the room.
Full story

Boehner on Obamacare Delay: ‘What The Hell Is This, a Joke?’ (Video)

Speaker John A. Boehner lambasted the Obama administration again Wednesday over the Affordable Care Act, this time for extending the health care insurance enrollment period beyond March 31 for individuals who had begun, but not completed enrollment.

“Last night brought us yet another delay of Obamacare,” the Ohio Republican said at his weekly press conference. “Another deadline made meaningless. The administration is now resorting to an honor system to enforce it. What the hell is this, a joke?”

As enrollment has surged on the federal exchanges over the last few weeks, House Republicans continue to work on an alternative to the Democrats’ law.

“I’ve got to live by the law, you’ve got to live by the law, the American people have to live by the law and guess what? The president needs to live by the law as well.”

March 21, 2014

Cantor Says House Budget Will Conform to ‘Spending Limits’ (Updated)

boehner 144 0312141 445x307 Cantor Says House Budget Will Conform to Spending Limits (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:44 p.m. |Majority Leader Eric Cantor is telling House Republicans they will produce a budget that adheres to spending limits and balances the budget in ten years.

“We owe it to the American people to demonstrate how we will allocate their tax dollars and balance the budget,” Cantor wrote Friday to House Republicans.

The Virginia Republican noted that President Barack Obama’s budget “blows past” the spending caps previously agreed to for fiscal 2015, but the the House GOP’s budget will conform to the agreed upon “spending limits.”

The pluralization of that last word is key: There are rumors that House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan intends to offer a budget that would adhere to the overall spending limit, but would exceed the defense spending caps, which are unpopular with a number of Republicans. Full story

March 20, 2014

Pelosi: Affordable Care Act a ‘Winner’ on Its 4th Anniversary

pelosi031314 445x264 Pelosi: Affordable Care Act a Winner on Its 4th Anniversary

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was on the defensive Thursday at a news conference convened, in part, to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act into law.

The California Democrat, backed by Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., spoke in support of the law she helped to craft and pass — despite the fact that its rocky rollout has made it a problem for vulnerable House and Senate Democrats facing tough re-election races this year.

That conversation has been reignited in the wake of last week’s defeat of Democrat Alex Sink by Republican David Jolly in the Florida special election to succeed late-Rep. C.W. Bill Young. Sink ran on a platform of “fix, not repeal” regarding the 2010 health care law.

“Just because people say, ‘I don’t want to repeal it but I want to fix it’ doesn’t mean they’re walking away from it,” Pelosi said, pointing out that the Florida special election took place in a swing district.

When asked by a reporter whether Obamacare was becoming a liability in midterm election campaigning, Pelosi replied, “I believe it’s a winner.

“And by the way,” she corrected, wryly, “it’s called the Affordable Care Act. Affordable Care Act.”

Pelosi strongly rejected the premise that Democrats were running from, rather than embracing, the health care law, saying that Washington, D.C., journalists do not see how well the law is faring in districts across the country.

“This isn’t about politics, this is about the health of America. This is about standing tall,” said Pelosi. “We don’t weigh its value as to what it means politically, we weigh its value as to what it means to the health, well-being, economic security of America’s families.

“Change is hard,” Pelosi said of the growing pains that have arisen as the law has gone through implementation. “This is transformational in the lives of American people.”

Pelosi and Van Hollen, former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, also argued that the post-Citizens United landscape has allowed outside groups allied with Republicans to spend massive amounts in ad campaigns to undermine the health care law.

“Citizens United [came] just in time for them to put out all their misrepresentations about the Affordable Care Act, and that’s hard to counter,” Pelosi said.

“It’s hypocritical and grossly misleading,” Van Hollen added.

March 18, 2014

When the Speaker Calls: How McMorris Rodgers Was Picked for SOTU Response

boehner 159 022614 445x305 When the Speaker Calls: How McMorris Rodgers Was Picked for SOTU Response

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cathy McMorris Rodgers was back in Spokane, Wash., for the holidays, hosting her district staff Christmas party at the local Old Spaghetti Factory, when she heard she’d missed a call from Speaker John A. Boehner.

“It was late enough that I decided to wait until the next day to return his call, the next morning,” the Washington Republican recalled in a recent sit-down interview with CQ Roll Call. “But everything runs through your mind as to why Speaker Boehner would be calling.”

A pitch to deliver the official GOP rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union address was certainly “not on the list,” McMorris Rodgers said.

But that was exactly what Boehner was calling to discuss.

“He simply said that he and [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell had been talking, and they thought that I was the one that they’d like to see deliver the response to —” McMorris Rodgers stopped herself. “The Republican address. We didn’t call it a response. The Republican address following the State of the Union.”

The work started right away.

Full story

March 17, 2014

RSC Chairman: ‘We’re Not Done’ Until Obamacare Alternative Hits House Floor

scalise 038 020514 445x296 RSC Chairman: Were Not Done Until Obamacare Alternative Hits House Floor

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House GOP leadership intends to put forward a formal framework for repealing and replacing Obamacare, but has so far stopped short of promising to turn that framework into actual legislative text.

Should leaders decline to take that next step, it won’t sit well with Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise.

“I feel good about where we are right now,” the Louisiana Republican told CQ Roll Call in a phone interview on Monday, “but we’re not done until we get a bill on the floor. Full story

March 13, 2014

Use War Money to Pay for ‘Doc Fix,’ Reid Tells Boehner

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is renewing his call to use unspent war funds to spare doctors from a severe cut in Medicare payments slated to begin next month.

The Nevada Democrat told Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio last week that he wants to use Overseas Contingency Operations funding — money saved from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — to pay for the “doc fix,” a policy that would shore up a formula that pays doctors who treat Medicare patients, according to members and staff.

The conversation came as the House began planning for a Friday vote to pay for the $138 billion fix by delaying the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that individuals purchase insurance, and further underscores that the bill will not be taken up by the Senate.

It also shows just how mired in politics the policy has become, despite a bipartisan, bicameral goal of avoiding the doctors’ pay spike. Members are starting to grumble, as a result, that Congress could end up with another temporary extension, especially because the policy must be dealt with by the end of the month. Full story

Pelosi: Obamacare Not to Blame for Alex Sink’s Defeat

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi rejected the premise that Democrat Alex Sink’s loss to Republican David Jolly in Tuesday night’s Florida special election was a referendum on Obamacare.

“I’m very proud of our House Democrats, not only how they’ve embraced the Affordable Care Act, because they helped create it, but how proud they are of it,” the California Democrat said at her weekly news conference Thursday morning. “I think the Republicans are wasting their time using that as their election issue and they will find that out.”

Pelosi also praised Sink, noting that the race was close and it was a district Republicans had held for 50 years.

“Our candidate Alex Sink, she was so excellent, she was so superb, and she said it just right: There are many good things about the Affordable Care Act that are good for the health and wellbeing for the American people, there are some things that need to be fixed,” Pelosi countered. “And that is the message of our members.” Full story

March 12, 2014

House GOP Leaders Gloat Over Jolly’s Victory in Florida (Updated) (Video)

House Republican leaders enjoyed some bragging rights at their Wednesday morning press conference after their candidate, David Jolly, won Tuesday’s hotly-contested special election in Florida to succeed late-Republican Rep. C. W. Bill Young.

“I’ve stood here after losing some special elections,” said Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio. “I’ve tried to put lipstick on a pig, and it was still a pig. So you can bet they’ll try to put lipstick on it today but you all know what the facts are.”

Full story

March 11, 2014

Cantor Scores First GOP Rebranding Win as Pediatric Research Bill Sails Through Senate

cantor121013 445x295 Cantor Scores First GOP Rebranding Win as Pediatric Research Bill Sails Through Senate

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., cheered the passage of one of his top priorities Tuesday, as a pediatric research funding bill he laboriously pushed through the House easily passed the Senate.

The bill is the first piece of legislation under the umbrella of Cantor’s much-publicized Republican rebrand to pass the Senate, and his office now expects President Barack Obama to sign the bill into law.

“So often everyone is focused on what Congress cannot accomplish that we overlook the good that can be done when both parties work together,” Cantor said in a statement.

Of course, the road to passage was not so simple for the legislation. It moves $126 million over 10 years that would be used to pay for political conventions into a fund that can only be applied to pediatric research through the National Institutes of Health.

Yet many House Republicans opposed the bill because they would rather see the money used to offset the deficit. Top Democrats, meanwhile, called the $126 million a pittance in the NIH budget and said Cantor was simply trying to obscure several years of Republican-led cuts to medical research.

It was not until Cantor rebranded the bill itself that he found legislative success.

The bill was renamed for Gabriella Miller, a 10-year-old Virginia girl who died last year. Afflicted with brain cancer, she nonetheless made viral YouTube videos advocating for heightened awareness for pediatric diseases.

With Miller’s parents watching from the House chamber’s visitors gallery, the bill passed in December on a 295-103 vote despite objections from Democratic leaders.

It passed the Senate on Tuesday with unanimous consent.

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