It seems like this thing is probably going to pass the Senate. Murkowski, Collins, and McCain have all signaled support for it, Thad Cochran is back, and it's still unclear whether Menendez will be back to vote against it. Rand Paul is a hard (and aggressive) no, and Bob Corker is still a wild card, though he did vote for the motion to proceed on the measure.
We're still in the debate phase, amendments are trickling in as well. Today we expect there to be a vote on a Sanders amendment to protect Medicare and Medicaid, and then a Hatch side-by-side that purportedly does the same, but the language is much weaker in his amendment.
This whole process is eerily similar to the last budget resolution on healthcare. earlier this year. The Senate will likely pass something this week that will be punted to the House. The House will come up with something vastly different, and then they'll have trouble meeting in the middle.
Again, the House is out of session this week, so the earliest they'd begin taking this up is next week.
I've got whiplash from everything that happened just yesterday on healthcare.
First, during his presser with the Greek PM (who wasn't wearing a tie at the White House?!?!?), the president was asked a comment by the press about the ACA. He said something to the effect that it's "dead" and "collapsing", SECONDS before Murray and Alexander announced their bipartisan agreement to stabilize markets.
When he was asked a follow-up question about that deal, he said that his folks had been involved in the negotiations, and he was supportive of the plan because it would pave the way to implementing a block grant system next year.
PRO TIP: The Murray-Alexander plan restores the CSR payments that the president got rid of last week, among other things, to stabilize insurance markets. If this legislation passes, we'll basically go back to the place in the market, with a few changes, where we were before the president used the power of the pen. This would have been one massive, terrifying circle this year, and it's sounding like the president wants to do it all over again next year.
The president then spoke at the Heritage Foundation and gave a scripted, and very critical response to the Murray-Alexander plan (which Heritage immediately criticized yesterday after its release).
WaPo made a solid attempt at trying to make sense of all this yesterday: https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/key-senators-reach-bipartisan-health-care-subsidy-deal-and-trump-expresses-support/2017/10/17/72be5b04-b355-11e7-a908-a3470754bbb9_story.html?utm_term=.d05f45f2b7c9
While there is tentative support for this approach from the Democratic side, the GOP aren't having it. When McConnell did his presser yesterday, nowhere in his outline of the calendar was this legislation, so it still faces some significant hurdles to get completely off the ground.
Change might come easier on the legal side of this issue. Just as we're seeing with the travel ban, the presidents words may get him into trouble with the ACA, too, or so claims a Vox reporter today. Here's what they say:
"The president has a legal obligation, under Article II of the US Constitution, to 'take Care that the laws be faithfully executed.' That means he must make sure that our laws are implemented in good faith and that he uses his executive discretion reasonably toward that end. His agencies likewise have a legal obligation, under the Administrative Procedure Act — the statute that sets the rules for our entire federal regulatory apparatus — not to use their power to engage in arbitrary action."
If some good lawyer out there can give it a go from this angle, we might make some progress on this issue. Here's the rest of the article: https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/10/17/16489526/take-care-clause-obamacare-trump-sabotage-aca-illegal
ACA Update: The president has now made it Twitter official that he doesn't support Alexander-Murray, but supports Alexander "as a person". Ugh.
We hate this guy, we really do. So nothing should give us more pleasure than to see him eviscerated in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee again. Well, today is your lucky day! Remember WAY back when Sessions cancelled his appearance for the DOJ Oversight hearing because of Russia, and Mueller, and a spat with the president, and all other things? Well, today is the day he gets to have that hearing, and I'm giddy about it. He's done SO many terrible things since his last appearance that he'll have to talk about out in the open, and I just can't wait to see him squirm.
Tune in at 10am on C-SPAN and maybe other major networks.
The Army did something potentially illegal, and extremely inflammatory yesterday that got next to no attention. According to Mic, an outlet that I mostly trust, the Army sent out a memo on Monday banning the shipment and enlistment, effective immediately, of all green card holders. This counters a previous DOD policy issued last week (that also went largely unnoticed) that said green card holders couldn't ship or enlist until they completed a background check.
The Mic article said this:
"Barring green card holders from enlisting in the military is against federal law, which states that an 'alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence' may be enlisted in 'any armed force.'"
Current law states that immigrants can fast track their green card status by serving honorably in the military. This completely negates that program.
I expect to see legal action on this promptly, but it wouldn't hurt to call your electeds about it. Especially those on the Armed Services Committee.
Here's the full article: https://mic.com/articles/185297/exclusive-army-bans-green-card-holders-from-enlisting-a-move-that-may-break-federal-law#.JfzhMYlLu
We're hearing rumblings that there will be a vote on the House-passed aid package in the Senate on Friday. This signals to me that leadership doesn't expect vote-a-rama to be an incredibly prolonged event on Thursday, and that they have the votes to pass it.
Stay tuned, there's lots more to come today, I'm sure!