Washington Update: Week of September 25

September 26, 2017
Washington Update

Budget & Appropriations

  • With the House in recess last week and the Senate focused on health care, there was no movement last week on fiscal year 2018 appropriations or a bipartisan budget deal.
  • Republicans are expected to unveil a tax reform framework on Wednesday, Sept. 27.
  • Republicans are hoping tax reform will move forward through the budget reconciliation process, which will require both the House and Senate to pass fiscal year 2018 budget resolutions.
  • Last week, key Senate Budget Committee members announced an agreement to allow a reported $1.5 trillion tax cut into their budget resolution’s instructions. In the House, Budget Committee Chair Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.-6) is hopeful tax reform details will satisfy the House Freedom Caucus and allow the budget resolution to move to the floor.
  • Conservative Freedom Caucus members have been withholding their votes on the House budget resolution because they have wanted to see deeper spending cuts and further details on a tax reform package.

Medicaid

  • The proposal put forth by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) looks like it’s headed for defeat. The proposal would eliminate the Medicaid expansion and market place subsidies for low-income families, and cut Medicaid by $239 billion by instituting block grants to states.
  • In a last-ditch effort to appeal to moderate holdouts, a new version of the proposal was unveiled Sunday night, which would include giving additional money to states such as Alaska, Kentucky, and Maine. But with several senators expressing strong doubts or outright opposition to the version released last week, it’s unclear that the revisions will win enough support to resuscitate the repeal effort. 
  • The GOP’s hopes for repealing Obamacare were largely dashed on Friday, Sept. 22 when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) came out against the repeal bill.  McCain joined Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in opposing the bill, while Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Sunday she doesn’t see herself backing the bill. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who voted against previous repeal measures, is also undecided. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Sunday he doesn’t back the bill in its current form.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) still has to decide whether to go through with a vote, which would likely happen Wednesday, Sept. 27.  
  • The Graham-Cassidy bill would turn the money that funds the ACA into block grants for the states, which would create their own healthcare plans for their residents. States that expanded Medicaid under the ACA would be hardest hit, losing $180 billion from 2020 to 2026, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which studied an earlier version of the bill.
  • States that rejected the Medicaid expansion would gain $73 billion.  The bill changes how Medicaid is funded from a fixed percentage regardless of total spending to a per-enrollee cost.  The bill also would end the ACA’s requirements that individuals have insurance and that most employers provide it, and leave most ACA tax increases intact. 
  • The Brookings Institution has estimated that the Graham-Cassidy plan would reduce the number of people with health coverage by about 21 million a year from 2020 through 2026. 

Immigration

  • No new co-sponsors have been added to either the Senate or House versions of the Dream Act (S.1615/H.R.3440).
  • This week House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) put together a House Republican DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) task force. The members of the task force include Ryan and Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif-23), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.-6), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho-1), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.-5), Michael McCaul (R-Texas-10), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.-2), Will Hurd (R- Texas-23), John Carter (R-Texas-31), and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.-25).
  • The aim of the task force is to find a solution for “Dreamers” that would have the support of a majority of the House Republican conference before it goes to the floor for a vote. This task force is just one of several moving parts in the House’s effort to find a legislative solution for DACA recipients. Discussions with other members, including some Democrats, continue to be underway. 

Act Now!

Senate Republicans are trying to push through partisan legislation by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). The Cassidy- Graham proposal would eliminate the expansion of Medicaid, which has extended coverage to 11 million low-income adults and block grant the Medicaid program. If this proposal passes millions will lose coverage and Medicaid as we know it would end.

The Senate could vote as early as this Wednesday, Sept. 27. If the proposal passes, the House is expected to immediately take it up.

Call (800-826-3688) your senators and representative today. Tell them to oppose the Cassidy-Graham bill that would cut Medicaid for millions and support instead a bipartisan, transparent effort that ensures American families do not have to choose between paying for food or paying for medical care.

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