Thursday, November 23, 2017
Politics

House panel approves troubled GOP health care bill

RECOMMENDED READING


WASHINGTON — The House Budget Committee voted narrowly Thursday to advance the troubled Republican health care bill, with defections by three GOP conservatives underscoring the obstacles party leaders face in maneuvering to avoid a stinging setback to their showpiece legislation.

The vote was 19-17, with Democrats unanimously voting no. Had one more Republican joined them, the measure would have failed in what would have been a damaging, embarrassing — but not fatal — blow to the measure. The legislation has the backing of President Donald Trump, who one lawmaker said called Republicans on the panel to press them to push the bill forward.

The committee was debating a slew of non-binding proposals suggesting changes in the measure, with some expected from Republicans. Those may provide clues about the types of changes GOP leaders believe the legislation will need for it to win House approval, which top Republicans hope will occur next week.

 

POLL: Florida voters overwhelmingly reject key part of GOP health care plan.

 

The White House and Republican leaders are already talking to rank-and-file Republicans about revising the bill to nail down support.

Before the vote, panel Chairwoman Diane Black, R-Tenn., appealed to fellow Republicans to back the legislation, calling it "the conservative health care vision we've been talking about for years." The measure would strike down much of former President Barack Obama's 2010 overhaul and reduce the federal role, including financing, for health care consumers.

"Don't cut off discussion. Stay with this effort," she said, calling the measure "a good first step."

Three members of the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus — Reps. Dave Brat of Virginia, Gary Palmer of Alabama and Mark Sanford of South Carolina — opposed the measure.

Democrats said the legislation would strip coverage from millions who gained it under Obama's 2010 overhaul and bestow a massive gift on the wealthy by repealing many of that law's tax increases.

"This is Robin Hood in reverse, but far worse," said the panel's top Democrat, Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky. Citing lawmakers' town hall meetings that have been jammed with activists opposing the GOP bill, he said, "This bill is not what the American people want."

Republicans easily swatted down Democratic proposals to allow amendments in the full House that they hoped would embarrass Republicans, such as deleting provisions that would reduce coverage or cut Medicaid.

The committee vote came four days after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected the legislation would boot 24 million people from health coverage. That includes 14 million who'd lost it next year — a scary scenario for lawmakers facing re-election next year, and overt GOP opposition has grown since that report was released.

The bill would eliminate the tax penalty that pressures people to buy coverage and the federal subsidies that let millions afford it, replacing them with tax credits that are bigger for older people. It would cut Medicaid, repeal the law's tax increases on higher earning Americans and require 30 percent higher premiums for consumers who let coverage lapse.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., reiterated Thursday that negotiations are ongoing to produce a bill that can actually pass the House. He insisted that Trump was closely involved in that process, disputing reports of "palace intrigue" or any "schism" between himself and the president.

"I am excited about the fact that we have a president who likes closing deals," Ryan said.

At a late rally in Nashville Wednesday, Trump said: "We're going to arbitrate, we're all going to get together, we're going to get something done."

But insurgents still abound.

Conservatives want to end Obama's expansion of Medicaid to 11 million additional low-income people next year, not 2020 as the bill proposes. They say a GOP proposed tax credit to help people pay medical costs is too generous, and they want to terminate all of Obama's insurance requirements, including mandatory coverage of specified services like drug counseling.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., head of the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus, continued pushing for changes. He claimed at least 21 members of his group would oppose the measure as written; the bill would fail if 22 Republicans join all Democrats in opposing it.

But underscoring the push-pull problem GOP leaders face in winning votes, moderates feel the tax credits are too stingy, especially for low earners and older people. They oppose accelerating the phase-out of the Medicaid expansion and are unhappy with long-term cuts the measure would inflict on the entire program.

Comments
President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump has a Thanksgiving Day message for the nation: Look at all I’ve done. Trump is telling followers in an early-morning holiday tweet that, "your Country is starting to do really well." He says: Jobs are "coming back,...
Updated: 8 hours ago
As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

Lys Isma was born in Haiti, but she’s used to driving in Miami with a license, going to college and living without fear of being deported.The Florida International University biology student has lived in Florida since she was 9 months old. Undocument...
Published: 11/22/17

Top Trump staffers failed to file financial reports on their way out the door

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top aides — including chief of staff Reince Priebus and foreign policy adviser Sebastian Gorka — failed to file legally required financial reports after they were dismissed this summer, according to government re...
Published: 11/22/17
William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

It’s an old joke that Florida’s lieutenant governor, with no duties specified in the state Constitution except to fill in if the governor is disabled or dies, has little to do except monitor the governor’s health. State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, ...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Associated PressPALM BEACH — President Donald Trump started off his first day of Thanksgiving vacation by resuming his taunts of the father of a UCLA basketball player detained for shoplifting in China, saying Wednesday that he was an "ungrateful foo...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

WASHINGTON — Silent for more than a week, President Donald Trump all but endorsed embattled Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore, discounting the sexual assault allegations against him and insisting repeatedly that voters must not support Moor...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to offer support to Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, saying the former state judge "totally denies" allegations that he sexually molested underage girls years ago."He d...
Published: 11/21/17
Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott’s tourism chiefs at Visit Florida spend a lot of public money taking trips to exotic places to promote Florida as a top worldwide destination.Four former top-level staff members at the state’s tourism promotion and its c...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A second woman has accused Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching.Lindsay Menz tells CNN that Franken placed his hand on her bottom as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, two years into Fran...
Published: 11/20/17
Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

TAMPA — A week ahead of the expected vote on a controversial tax reform bill, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., visited Tampa to deliver a message to small businesses: This bill will hurt you."Small businesses are the economic engine of F...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/20/17