- McConnell Campaign Manager Quits Amid Scandal
- Obama Weighs Delay in Action on Immigration
- Judge Strikes Down Texas Abortion Law
- Neck-and-Neck in Arkansas
- Judge Dismisses McDaniel Challenge
Posts in "Health Care"
August 7, 2014
The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations holds a 2 p.m. hearing on the Ebola virus, which has reportedly killed more than 900 people.
Witnesses include: Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, the assistant administrator for global health at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and representatives from the State Department, Samaritan’s Purse and SIM.
July 22, 2014
On the same day a federal appeals court upheld an IRS subsidy for Obamacare, GOP lawmakers seized on the opportunity of a conflicting ruling — Halbig v. Burwell — to make the point that the 2010 health care law is broken.
After a 2-1 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said the government could not subsidize insurance in the 36 states that defaulted to the federal health care exchanges, Speaker John A. Boehner offered one of his harshest rebukes of the Affordable Care Act yet, saying the ruling was further proof the law is “completely unworkable.”
“It cannot be fixed,” the Ohio Republican said in a statement.
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Chairman Joe Pitts, R-Pa., sent out a joint press release that called the Halbig ruling “a clear rebuke of the administration’s effort to extend subsidies where the law did not provide them.”
“The ruling also dramatically limits the IRS’ legal authority to enforce the individual and employer mandates,” the missive said.
That is true — or, at least, it could be true, if the rest of the D.C. Circuit Court agrees. The administration has asked the rest of the court — all 11 judges — to review the decision “en banc,” and even if the liberal-leaning court agrees, there are other cases before other courts that could undermine the decision. Full story
July 7, 2014
Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio is moving cautiously toward a late-July vote to authorize a lawsuit against President Barack Obama, juggling legal and political considerations as he tries to check executive power and stoke the Republican base.
Committee staffers are discussing several executive actions Boehner could target in a lawsuit and trying to whittle the list down to the fewest number of actions that would give the suit the best chance of being heard by a skeptical judiciary.
In a Sunday op-ed on CNN.com, Boehner came no closer to defining which specific executive action he would scrutinize, but he did outline a few broad areas where he believes the president has overstepped his authority.
“The Constitution makes it clear that the President’s job is to faithfully execute the laws,” Boehner wrote. “And, in my view, the President has not faithfully executed the laws when it comes to a range of issues, including his health care law, energy regulations, foreign policy and education.”
Notably, Boehner did not make explicit mention of immigration law, the arena in which Obama took one of his most well-known executive actions. The administration’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals memorandum directs immigration officials to use prosecutorial discretion when dealing with undocumented immigrants who came to the country as young children. Full story
June 9, 2014
Activists cheered a House vote last month to bar the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. It was a watershed moment for pro-marijuana advocates — and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — who have been waiting for years for Congress to take an affirmative up-or-down vote on any related issue.
But in the afterglow of this long-sought legislative victory, it’s not clear just what comes next. Will bipartisan support for the measure, adopted as an amendment to the House’s fiscal 2015 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill, inspire future action in the chamber? Will the Senate, poised in the weeks ahead to consider its own C-J-S bill, follow the House’s lead?
June 5, 2014
Advocates for expanding access to medical marijuana plan to turn up the pressure on members of Congress who aren’t supporting their cause.
They’re starting with two House members who voted last week against an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill that would bar federal government interference on state-approved pot and hemp laws.
The amendment passed 219-189, a victory for the bipartisan House coalition that sponsored the measure and supporters of the issue off Capitol Hill — but activists aren’t letting detractors off the hook.
Over the next few days, the “Vote Medical Marijuana” campaign, housed within the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, will run 30-second TV spots on MSNBC in Maryland and South Florida, the homes of two of the members who voted “no” — Republican Andy Harris and Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
May 30, 2014
In a series of late-night votes that marijuana-rights advocates say reflect a nation’s changing attitudes, the Republican-controlled House moved early Friday to block the federal government from interfering with state laws on pot and hemp.
The most far-reaching of the votes — a measure to cut funds for Drug Enforcement Agency raids on medical marijuana operations — passed 219-189 on the strength of an unusual coalition that cut across traditional partisan lines.
The medical marijuana measure was offered by conservative Republican Dana Rohrabacher of California as an amendment to the fiscal 2015 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill.
There were 49 Republicans who voted “yes” on the medical marijuana amendment, jointly sponsored by Rohrabacher; Sam Farr, D-Calif.; Don Young, R-Alaska; Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; Tom McClintock, R-Calif.; Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.; Paul Broun, R-Ga.; Jared Polis, D-Colo.; Steve Stockman, R-Texas; Barbara Lee, D-Calif.; Justin Amash, R-Mich.; and Dina Titus, D-Nev. Full story
May 25, 2014
Elliot Rodger — the man accused by police of committing a massacre Friday night in California — sparked a renewed call to pass a mental health bill in Congress.
“Our hearts break for the victims and families affected by the tragedy near Santa Barbara. We pray for their souls to find peace. But I am also angered because once again, our mental health system has failed and more families have been destroyed because Washington hasn’t had the courage to fix it,” said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa.
“How many more people must lose their lives before we take action on addressing cases of serious mental illness?” Full story
May 8, 2014
The House Veterans Affairs Committee voted Thursday to subpoena Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to answer questions about an unfolding waiting-list scandal that some critics of the Obama administration claim contributed to the deaths of 40 veterans at a VA facility in Phoenix.
The subpoena, only the second in the history of the committee, seeks emails and written correspondence sent to or received by Shinseki and a number of other VA officials since April 9.
Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., noted that the committee had contacted the VA numerous times before sending a letter on May 1 asking for any material related to wait times at the Phoenix VA hospital. Full story
Rep. Steve Israel doesn’t want another tour of duty as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“Let me think about it,” the New York Democrat told CQ Roll Call in a recent interview, feigning indecision for just an instant before delivering the punch line. “No! No. No. No.”
He exhaled with a long, loud laugh, and then grew serious.
“I very much want to continue being in leadership,” he said. “But three terms is a bad idea for our caucus. You need fresh blood.”
Israel has registered these sentiments with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., but conversations have pretty much ended there for the time being. After all, Israel said, he has a majority to try and win back in November before he can stop and think about what might come next for him.
But once the dust settles from Election Day, Israel will be left at a career crossroads. He wants a seat at a leadership table without an empty chair: The “Big Five” slate of caucus chairman, vice chairman, whip, leader and assistant leader is likely to remain static in the 114th Congress.
Pelosi could use her influence to keep Israel relevant through the next few years by securing him a special position, but sources tell CQ Roll Call she could face backlash from members growing uneasy about her pattern of playing favorites.
Ultimately, it might be Israel’s choice: taking on another grueling two years of activity at the DCCC through what might be a better cycle in a presidential election year, or return to being a member of the rank and file.
While he insists he isn’t kept awake at night obsessing over the if-then’s, he must know that his short-term political future is drawing a blank — and that he could become a cautionary tale for what happens to ambitious members of the House Democratic Caucus who suddenly find themselves with little room to grow.
April 25, 2014
In the campaign finance game, much hay is made over how much money a candidate can raise; in the race to be the next ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, however, it’s just as important how much money a candidate can spend on friends.
Rivals Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., and Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., showed in recent filings with the Federal Election Commission that they have raked in significant contributions from downtown donors in K Street lobby shops, in industries like technology and health care. But in their bids to succeed retiring California Rep. Henry A. Waxman as the powerful panel’s top Democrat, showing their clout and increasing their viability among their peers depends largely on how generous they can be with their checkbooks.
After all, when the time comes to chose the next ranking member of Energy and Commerce after the midterm elections, it won’t be outside interests, but the other 190 members of the House Democratic Caucus who will ultimately vote for either Pallone or Eshoo.
April 10, 2014
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
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.
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
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
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.