Senate Republicans will be unveiling the text of their revised Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. P.L. 111-148) repeal and replace bill on July 13, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters in a July 11 press briefing. A score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected early next week, he added. The measure will then move to a floor vote, according to McConnell.
Moments before speaking to the press, McConnell privately briefed Republican members on changes made to the health care reform bill. The updated bill will likely retain several ACA-related taxes, including the 3.8 percent tax on net investment income and a 0.9 percent payroll tax, according to several reports (TAXDAY, 2017/07/11, C.1).
Divisions within the Republican Party derailed the Senate GOP’s last effort to bring an ACA repeal and replace bill to the floor for a vote (TAXDAY, 2017/06/28, C.1). Despite a recharged effort by leadership to move the revamped measure to a vote next week, much of the original intraparty discord still exists, according to reports. Republicans hold a slim 52-seat majority in the Senate, which allows the loss of only two Republican votes on the bill under the reconciliation process.
“The problems Republicans are having with health care is not time, it is the substance of the bill,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a July 11 press briefing shortly after McConnell’s. “As long as this bill continues to cut taxes on the very wealthy…the bill will be as unpopular as it is today,” he added.
Senate Recess Delay
McConnell also announced on July 11 that the Senate will be delaying its scheduled August 1 recess by two weeks. The announcement came after a group of Republican senators held a press conference the same day urging leadership to delay the recess, purporting that 31 legislative days remaining this year would not provide enough to time to accomplish the relevant legislative matters at hand.
The announcement also came after President Trump weighed in on the 2017 congressional calendar. “I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new health care bill fully approved and ready to go,” Trump said in a tweet a day earlier.
During the extended legislative session, the Senate will complete its work on health care before turning to other legislative items, McConnell said in a July 11 statement. “In order to provide more time to complete action on important legislative items and process nominees that have been stalled by a lack of cooperation from our friends across the aisle, the Senate will delay the start of the its August recess until the third week of August.”
Meanwhile, House leadership has not made any announcements, at press time, that it intends to follow suit by cutting short the August recess. The House could make an announcement about any schedule changes later this week, according to a senior House leadership aide.
House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows, R-N.C., stated on July 11 his belief that the House will remain in session during August. “Everybody is going to be surprised when we have a productive August and put things on the president’s desk in September,” he said. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., however, told reporters on July 11 that August is an important time to connect with voters on tax reform.
By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News Staff