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August 2, 2015

Posts in "Health Care"

July 24, 2015

Cruz Accuses McConnell of Lying About Deal on Reviving the Export-Import Bank (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 10:29 a.m. | Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, accused his own majority leader of effectively lying to fellow senators about his intentions Friday in a floor speech that could have serious repercussions.

“The majority leader looked me in the eye, and looked 54 Republicans in the eye. I cannot believe he would tell a flat-out lie. And I voted based on those assurances that he made to each and every single one of us,” the GOP presidential candidate said. “What we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over and over and over again was a simple lie.”

Full story

July 13, 2015

Senators Call for More From Feds on Medical Marijuana Research

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s high time to look closer at medical marijuana research, eight Democratic senators wrote in a letter sent Monday to several departments in the federal government.

Acknowledging that 23 states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana use and an additional 15 states allow cannabadiol  all without federal involvement  the senators argue that the federal government has an “opportunity and a responsibility to craft a sensible research and public health strategy that allows us to generate meaningful data and conclusions.” Full story

June 29, 2015

In Washington, Ted Cruz’s ‘Truth’ Will Make Him More Enemies

A new book by Ted Cruz slams a number of his colleagues in what he calls the "Washington cartel." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A new book by Cruz — “A Time For Truth” — slams a number of his colleagues in what he calls the “Washington cartel.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When their presidential bids failed, senators as liberal as Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and as conservative as Barry Goldwater of Arizona returned to Capitol Hill and had productive — if not legendary — careers.

But Sen. Ted Cruz’s new book is the latest indication he has no plan to be a member of such a club if his run for the White House doesn’t go as planned. He is running against what he’s taken to calling a “Washington cartel.”

As to be expected from a senator who has openly sought to undermine GOP leadership, “A Time for Truth” does not pull punches, leading off with anecdotes about one of the more bizarre sequences of events in recent Senate history: the day the clerk’s microphone was turned off for a crucial vote on raising the debt limit.

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June 25, 2015

Next Obamacare Battle? The 2016 Election (Video)

Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Graham said Obamacare will be the key domestic issue. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold subsidies for people to purchase health insurance forestalls the need for Republicans in Congress to take action on the law, pushing the issue as a substantive matter into the 2016 election cycle.

The candidates are embracing the shift.

Full story

June 18, 2015

Ted Cruz Vs. Ted Cruz on Obamacare Extensions

Cruz was for a six-month transition from Obamacare before he was against it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz was for a six-month transition from Obamacare before he was against it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz has never shied from his displeasure for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The Texas Republican’s opposition may have been most famously embodied in his extremely long speech in 2013, which, along with his lobbying efforts to get Congress to defund the law, set the stage for the 16-day government shutdown.

But Cruz’s recent positions seem to conflict with a stance he took just a few months ago.

With the Supreme Court expected to offer a ruling in King v. Burwell that threatens subsidies for approximately 6.4 million people throughout the 34 states with federally run health care exchanges, Cruz, according to the Wall Street Journal and others, have been opposed to proposals giving a six-month or longer sunset period for those who would lose the subsidies.

But in February, Cruz introduced the ObamaCare Repeal bill, which would have provided a six-month transition period as well.

According to Cruz’s office, the two ideas — total repeal and elimination of the subsidies — are completely different. A total repeal would require a six-month period for the entire country to adjust, while an aide suggested subsidies wouldn’t need to be extended if states were allowed to opt out of Obamacare, which Cruz has also suggested.

While millions of people could lose their subsidies depending on how the Supreme Court decides, Cruz believes everyone’s health care situation will improve if the law goes away, according to a Cruz aide.

One of the sponsors of a subsidy-extension bill, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., on Wednesday floated the idea to reporters of something like a two-year extension of the “somewhat status quo,” which would give the families of those affected by the law time to adjust and would also create a mandate election in 2016.

“Give the American people a chance to be involved in deciding what direction our health care system will take after the 2016 elections,” said Johnson, who faces perhaps the most difficult re-election of any Senate Republican.

“Now [that] they’ve actually seen the results of Obamacare, now’s the time to have that mandate election,” he said.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., has also suggested using the money left over from King v. Burwell fallout to fund a Republican replacement plan.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.
 
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May 27, 2015

Cruz Threatens to Subpoena Treasury Officials to Testify About Obamacare Rules

Cruz wants to keep the filibuster, even though it makes it harder to repeal Obamacare. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz is warning he might seek to compel testimony from the Treasury Department about the Affordable Care Act.

The Texas Republican presidential candidate, who has the gavel of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, said his staff had been informed by the Obama administration that witnesses would not be available to testify about the rule-making process for providing subsidies under Obamacare because of ongoing litigation.

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April 13, 2015

Senate Returns to an Immediate ‘Doc Fix’ Deadline

The Senate is facing a post-recess time crunch on the doc fix. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate is facing a post-recess time crunch on the ‘doc fix.’ (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lawmakers will already be facing a time crunch when the Senate returns Monday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been withholding payments to doctors treating Medicare patients to give Congress a window to work through a long-term resolution to the Sustainable Growth Rate problem that sees physicians regularly facing draconian cuts in payment rates without a patch known as a “doc fix.”

Full story

March 31, 2015

10 Things We Learned From the Vote-a-Rama

vote-a-rama

Toomey got attention for changing his vote during last week’s vote-a-rama. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the vote-a-rama in the rearview mirror, it’s worth taking stock of what the 15-plus hours of nonbinding votes on dozens of amendments said about the 2016 presidential election, how vulnerable senators voted and what issues might now come to the fore. Full story

March 27, 2015

Vitter Amendment Rears Its Head in Wee Hours of Vote-a-Rama (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Vitter knows he has better leverage on must-pass legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:47 a.m. | Sen. David Vitter won a small victory in the wee hours Friday, resurrecting his amendment to end employer-provided health benefits for members of Congress.

Fourteen hours into the vote-a-rama, 52 senators voted to approve the Louisiana Republican’s proposal. It came first in a series of seven votes wrapping up the marathon session. The nonbinding vote marked Vitter’s latest salvo in an ongoing crusade against congressional enrollment in Obamacare.

“This amendment would say no, we’re going to live by that statute. We’re going to go to the exchange for our health care. No special subsidy, no special deal, and it would also apply to the president, the vice president and their political appointees,” Vitter said, making clear it wouldn’t pertain to congressional aides.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., refuted the idea of there being anything special about getting a health care subsidy.

“Today every single senator is treated like every single person in the country who works for a large employer. Those large employers all make a contribution to their employees’ health care,” Boxer said. “Now colleagues, you do not have to take that employer contribution. If you don’t want it, give it back.”

Boxer added she assumes Vitter pays his subsidy back to the Treasury Department.

One Democrat, Michael Bennet of Colorado, who faces the voters in 2016, joined Vitter, while three Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Dan Coats of Indiana — voted no.

Coats announced this week he won’t seek reelection.

As part of his crusade, Vitter has tried to attach the amendment to all kinds of legislation, including a low profile energy efficiency measure. But the senator, who wants to become governor of Louisiana, has learned he has the best leverage with must-pass measures like the budget.

Vitter also tried taking on the House of Representatives, asking Speaker John A. Boehner to help him get information on Congress’ small-business exchange applications. So far, House officials have shrugged off his request, writing it off as an attempt to score political points.

Niels Lesniewski and Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

Related:

Rand Paul Proposes Higher Defense Spending — If It’s Paid for

Voting Marathon: More Test Marketing Than Attack Ads

Vote-a-Rama Presents Political Peril for Vulnerable Incumbents

Start Preparing Now for the Budget Vote-A-Rama

Democrats Outline Floor Strategy for Budget Battle

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

By Hannah Hess Posted at 3:19 a.m.
Budget, Health Care

March 26, 2015

Freshman Senator: Pay for Obamacare Replacement With … Obamacare

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 08: From left, Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., attend a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee markup in Dirksen Building on legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, January 8, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cassidy, center, a freshman senator and Louisiana doctor, has a different spin on replacing Obamacare than most Republicans. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Bill Cassidy, the freshman senator from Louisiana and a doctor, has been pushing fellow Republicans in his first few months in the Senate to embrace an alternative to Obamacare — one he predicts will insure more people without mandates.

And he even says he has a way to pay for it: Obamacare. Full story

March 4, 2015

Senate GOP Has No Definite Options in Response to Obamacare Case

Richard Burr VA Secretary Eric Shinseki DAV Veterans

Barrasso, center, said the GOP will continue to prepare for the King v. Burwell ruling. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The GOP hasn’t “signed off” on a plan to respond should the Supreme Court strike down most health insurance subsidies in King v. Burwell, Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso said on the eve of oral arguments in the case.

Pressed for details on how a plan the Wyoming Republican offered with two Senate colleagues might compare to the current structure of the Affordable Care Act or a two-part “off-ramp out of Obamacare” put forth by three House GOP committee chairman, Barrasso said discussions were ongoing. He said a transition would likely involve federal funds, and that Republican governors would likely have a say. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 1:20 p.m.
Health Care, Policy

February 9, 2015

Republicans Want to Send Message to SCOTUS on Obamacare

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Barrasso is leading the Senate GOP effort. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans want to send a message to the Supreme Court that it’s OK to undermine Obamacare.

They keep asking the Obama administration what it plans to do if the Supreme Court upends health insurance subsidies in the King v. Burwell case. It’s a hypothetical question the administration has been reluctant to entertain, leading the GOP to undertake an effort to craft a resolution.

Part of the reason is that Republicans want to try to signal to potentially wavering justices that there would be a path to minimal disruption should the court invalidate tax credits for millions of people in states that didn’t create their own health insurance exchanges.

South Dakota Republican John Thune, who is chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said there is a lot of discussion along those lines.

Full story

January 12, 2015

Ted Cruz: Preserve Filibuster, Even For Obamacare Repeal

Cruz wants to keep the filibuster, even though it makes it harder to repeal Obamacare. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cruz wants to keep the filibuster, even though it makes it harder to repeal Obamacare. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There’s a limit to what Sen. Ted Cruz would do to repeal Obamacare.

The Texas Republican said Monday that Republicans should do “everything humanly possible to repeal Obamacare” during a speech at Heritage Action’s annual policy summit. It’s a line he’s used before. But he later added a caveat.

When asked if Republicans should use the “nuclear option” to ditch the filibuster on legislation and get more bills to President Obama’s desk, including a bill repealing Obamacare, Cruz told reporters, “no, we should not.”

“We should preserve the procedural protections in the Senate for the rights of the minority,” he said. Full story

January 8, 2015

Cornyn: Obamacare Repeal Vote Should Wait

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said he hopes his GOP colleagues hold off on a vote to fully repeal Obamacare until after Republicans have shown they can govern.

“I think it’s important that we demonstrate that we can be productive before we have the inevitable fight over repealing Obamacare,” the Texas Republican said in an interview with CQ Roll Call Wednesday. “We are going to have that vote. But my own preference would be we have it after we’ve been able to demonstrate that we can actually get some things done.”

Asked if he would be opposed to an Obamacare repeal amendment being offered to the bill due on the floor next week to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, Cornyn said, “I think that would muddle the message.”

Supporters of the Keystone bill have also said that they would prefer that only relevant amendments be offered.

Adding a repeal to any bill would effectively act as a poison pill for Democrats and the White House — and a pure repeal is certain to fall short of the 60 votes necessary to end a filibuster. But Republicans have pledged to try and repeal it anyway.

To that end, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., earlier told CQ Roll Call there will at least be a vote on proceeding to a bill repealing the law.

Cornyn predicted the King v. Burwell case that will be argued before the Supreme Court in March will end up going a long way towards undoing the law.

The court will decide whether the law allows people participating in the federally run health care exchange to get subsidies. A decision denying the subsidies would significantly undermine the law.

“What I expect is that the Supreme Court is going to render a body blow to Obamacare from which I don’t think it will ever recover,” Cornyn said.

He also said there may be bipartisanship on some of the much smaller Affordable Care Act rollbacks, such as a bill that passed the House 412 to 0 on opening day that would encourage the hiring of veterans by exempting them from counting toward the employer mandate under Obamacare.

“So I think there are going to be some parts of repealing Obamacare that are going to be consensus, bipartisan items,” Cornyn said.

Some of those bills with bipartisan backers face opposition from the White House. That’s true in the case of a measure that would define full time employment as 40 hours per week for the purposes of the Affordable Care Act.

“Our goal is simple. We want to protect part-time workers from having their hours reduced and their paychecks cut because of the definition in this law,” said lead Senate sponsor Susan Collins, R-Maine.

That bill faces a White House veto threat and received a fairly ugly CBO score saying it would boost the deficit, result in more people uninsured and on Medicaid and potentially reduce, not increase, the number of hours worked by full-time workers.

Ahead of a House vote, the Office of Management and Budget said “it would significantly increase the deficit, reduce the number of Americans with employer-based health insurance coverage, and create incentives for employers to shift their employees to part-time work — causing the problem it intends to solve.”

And Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Democrats would seek to block efforts to roll back the health care law, financial services reform or tampering with access to the Internet.

“Any attempt to erode protections for working American families — the dismantling of Dodd-Frank, the weakening of net neutrality rules, or the Republicans’ never-ending quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act — will be met with swift and unified Democratic opposition,” Reid said in a statement read on the floor by Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill.

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

January 6, 2015

Senators Cheer ‘President Hatch’

Orrin Hatch

Hatch is a Utah Republican. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The start of the 114th Congress brings a pair of new roles for the senior-most Senate Republican: president pro tem and chairman of the Finance Committee.

Shortly after the Senate convened Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, was elected president pro tem, the Constitutional post that puts in line for the presidency behind the vice president and the speaker. The position comes with a security detail and an ornate office on the first floor of the Capitol, vacated by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt.

“You get a beautiful office. I left it in perfect condition with one exception: I cleaned out the liquor cabinet. … I knew you wouldn’t need that,” Leahy joked at a Tuesday afternoon reception for Hatch, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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