Aug. re­cess de­layed

McCon­nell seeks time to com­plete work on bill, other is­sues

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Kelsey Snell, Sean Sul­li­van and Juliet Eilperin

Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., an­nounced Tues­day he would cut the Se­nate’s Au­gust re­cess in half, say­ing Repub­li­cans needed more time to achieve their leg­isla­tive goals given the pro­tracted ne­go­ti­a­tions over health-care leg­is­la­tion and con­tin­ued op­po­si­tion from Democrats on sev­eral fronts.

“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 Au­gust re­cess un­til the third week of Au­gust,” McCon­nell said.

In ad­di­tion to health care and ap­point­ments, the Se­nate also will de­vote time to pass­ing a de­fense au­tho­riza­tion bill “and other im­por­tant is­sues,” McCon­nell said. The Se­nate will now re­main at work through the week of Aug. 7.

Work on the Se­nate’s health-care bill re­mained un­cer­tain Tues­day, although McCon­nell told re­porters he will re­lease a re­vised bill by Thurs­day morn­ing and hopes to re­ceive a Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice anal­y­sis of that mea­sure by the be­gin­ning of next week so the cham­ber can vote quickly.

McCon­nell’s an­nounce­ment ap­peared de­signed to give Repub­li­cans time to move to other mat­ters, such as rais­ing the fed­eral debt ceil­ing, af­ter dis­patch­ing with a health-care vote.

“The debt ceil­ing must be raised,” McCon­nell told re­porters.

GOP lead­ers are still tweak­ing their health-care plan to at­tract more votes, es­pe­cially from cen­trists. McCon­nell is pre­pared to pre­serve two of the Af­ford­able Care Act’s ex­ist­ing taxes on in­di­vid­u­als earn­ing more than $200,000 an­nu­ally and cou­ples earn­ing more than $250,000 for sev­eral years, ac­cord­ing to mul­ti­ple Repub­li­can law­mak­ers and aides briefed on the plan. One is a 3.8 per­cent tax on investment

in­come, and an­other is a 0.9 per­cent tax on wages and self-em­ploy­ment in­come.

By keep­ing these two taxes in place for five to seven years, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral Repub­li­cans, the fed­eral govern­ment could steer more money to a sta­bi­liza­tion fund that could to help off­set con­sumers’ health care costs while the new GOP plan goes into ef­fect.

But the ide­o­log­i­cal dis­agree­ment over how to re­vise the ACA raged on among Repub­li­cans.

Se­nate Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence Chair­man John Thune, R-S.D., said the de­bate over how to ad­dress taxes in the bill is be­ing “fairly hotly dis­cussed and lit­i­gated” among GOP senators. While he stressed that noth­ing has been fi­nal­ized, Thune said “the di­rec­tion I think a lot of our mem­bers want to move” is to keep some of the Obamacare taxes in place and use the rev­enue in other parts of the bill.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, made the case to fel­low Repub­li­cans dur­ing their weekly lun­cheon that they should em­brace a rad­i­cal change to the ACA that would al­low com­pa­nies to of­fer min­i­mal­ist plans on the pri­vate in­sur­ance mar­ket that don’t meet cur­rent cov­er­age re­quire­ments. The pre­sen­ta­tion high­lights the party’s on­go­ing strug­gle to de­vise a health care plan that can sat­isfy a broad enough swath of law­mak­ers.

Cruz and other con­ser­va­tives are try­ing to steer the bill to the right even as GOP lead­ers are con­sid­er­ing changes — such as pre­serv­ing a tax on wealthy Amer­i­cans’ investment in­come for sev­eral years — aimed at en­list­ing the sup­port of cen­trists.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.