Seeking to Save Face, Republicans Consider Only a Modest Tweaking of Obamacare
Senate scramble. The Senate on Wednesday rejected a proposal to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act without providing a replacement, but Republicans were growing more confident about passing a more modest overhaul of the health-care law championed by former President Barack Obama. The so-called “skinny repeal” would merely tinker with the existing law and cut only three Obamacare provisions—a medical device tax and the mandates that individuals buy health insurance and that large employers offer it.
That’s far cry from the years-long Republican promise to gut the law, said the Los Angeles Times, but the face-saving strategy, which could come to a vote as soon as today, would at least allow senators to say they did something. It also would force a new round of negotiations with the House of Representatives, where the prospects of any small-scale repeal are minimal.
The Senate has spent the week debating and rejecting one Trumpcare plan after another. On Wednesday, seven Republicans voted against Sen. Paul Rand’s (R-Ky.) full-repeal measure in a 45-55 vote.
Trump publicly shamed Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who has staunchly voted against Trumpcare. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Assn. warned senators that repealing the mandate that requires almost everyone to have insurance will be disastrous if Congress doesn’t replace it with a similar insurance requirement.
Transgender bigotry. Trump announced that the military no longer will allow transgender people to serve because of “the tremendous medical costs and disruption.” But two recent studies have found minimal medical costs, or what one researcher called “little more than a rounding error” in the military’s $47.8 billion annual health-care budget. The estimated $2.4 million to $8.4 million a year in medical costs is dwarfed by the $41 million the Department of Defense spent on Viagra in 2014. An estimated 2,000 to 11,000 transgender people serve in the active-duty military.
FOIA lawsuits. More than 200 federal lawsuits have been filed by nonprofit and advocacy organizations using the Freedom of Information Act in the past year, according to Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research center at Syracuse University. Organizations filing the most lawsuits since fiscal 2001 included Judicial Watch Inc., which filed 324, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed 117. Recent lawsuits include the one by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington which sued to get visitor logs to Mar-a-Lago.
Not above the law. The Senate Judiciary Committee is exploring ways to block Trump from replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the August recess. Trump would be able to get rid of special prosecutor Robert Mueller if Sessions quits and is replaced during the recess. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he would support Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the GOP leadership avoiding having the Senate go into a full recess. “If we don’t stand for the principle that no one in this country is above the law, then what are we?” Durbin asked. Democrats also have the ability to force the Senate to remain in pro-forma sessions during the recess.