Heritage Call Notes May, 2017

Call Notes May 22, 2017

This week the House and Senate are both in session. The Senate will continue negotiations on Obamacare repeal and replace legislation and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will release an updated cost estimate for the AHCA this Wednesday. President Trump will unveil his FY 2018 budget request tomorrow entitled the New Foundation for American Greatness. The President’s budget is expected to balance in ten years, promote economic growth, and put taxpayers first.

Obamacare Repeal: On May 4th, the House passed an amended version of the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628) by a final vote of 217 to 213 with 20 Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition. Earlier in March, Speaker Paul Ryan was forced to pull the bill from the floor 18 days after it was first introduced due to serious concerns from both conservatives and moderate Republicans. Most conservative organizations and nearly all conservative health policy experts opposed the original version of the AHCA because it failed to repeal the regulatory architecture of Obamacare (Title I) that is responsible for the rising cost of health care premiums by a national average of 44.5 to 68 percent. Republicans of all stripes campaigned for over seven years to repeal all of Obamacare, including the Title I regulations, as clearly outlined in Speaker Ryan’s “A “Better Way” plan.

Over the Easter recess, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, worked out a deal to allow states to easily opt-out of core elements of Obamacare’s Title I insurance regulations if they set up high-risk pools to assist those with pre-existing chronic conditions. This compromise, along with a second amendment offered by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) adding $8 billion in assistance to those with pre-existing conditions, convinced enough conservatives and moderates to vote for the AHCA. Heritage Action withdrew its original key vote after House Republican leaders adopted the MacArthur-Meadows Amendment.

Heritage Action released the following statement from chief executive officer Michael A. Needham:

“Today’s vote ensures the Obamacare repeal effort can continue to move forward. Surely more must be done in the Senate, but the months-long negotiations in the House identified many of the key issues for senators to tackle. Representatives MacArthur and Meadows deserve tremendous credit for their good faith effort to address Obamacare’s regulatory architecture.

“There is no doubt the Republican Party is divided in fundamental ways, but for the years-long repeal effort to be successful, the Senate will have to demonstrate a level of cohesion and commitment that eluded House leaders. The process up until now has been disastrous, but we have confidence the bill can be improved upon in the Senate.”

It was clear House Republicans were not capable of doing better given the disastrous process, which is why nearly every House conservative voted for the amended AHCA and are eager to see the Senate take up and improve the bill. This Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office is expected to release an updated cost estimate for the House-passed version of the AHCA that reflects changes on health insurance costs and coverage due to the MacArthur-Meadows and Upton-Long Amendments.

Trusting the Senate to make conservative improvements is usually a very bad idea, but when it comes to the budget reconciliation process it have proven successful in the recent past. The initial 2015 reconciliation bill passed by the House was dreadful — Heritage Action key voted against that bill too and only a handful of Republicans opposed by House leaders said it was the best they could do — but the Senate made the bill substantially better.

As counterintuitive as it sounds, conservatives have leverage and a great opportunity to make the bill better in the Senate. Senator Mitch McConnell is already leading a 13-member health care working group in the Senate that includes conservatives such as Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). According to news reports, Senate Republicans are united around the goal of lowering health care premiums by addressing the regulatory architecture of Obamacare, however serious policy differences remain on Medicaid, subsidies and regulations. This is going to be a long process. There will not be any visible Senate action until after Memorial Day and if things go well, we may see a final bill as soon as June but no later than July. The result of the slow pace is that nearly everything in the congressional agenda will be delayed. For example, the FY18 budget will be delayed, which in turn delays the appropriations bills, which means very little work will happen before the September 30 funding deadline. Although there are no guarantees the outcome will be ideal, conservatives like you are making a difference by moving the bill in a better direction.

Resources:

Heritage Action statement on the Obamacare repeal effort, click here.

Heritage Action statement on the MacArthur-Meadows Amendment, click here.

Heritage Action face sheet on Obamacare Title I regulations, click here.

Heritage Action key vote, click here.

Sentinel Brief, click here.

Daily Signal blog, here.

Dodd-Frank Repeal: Earlier this month, the House Financial Services Committee passed a bill to repeal or replace some of the worst provisions contained in Dodd-Frank called the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers, and Entrepreneurs Act or Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10). Dodd-Frank codifies “too big to fail” policy, harms local community banks, restricts access to credit for investors and homebuyers, raises lending costs, reduces access to capital for small businesses, and created one of the most powerful and unaccountable federal agencies — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Evidence shows Dodd-Frank is one of the major factors responsible for the country’s historically slow economic recovery. The Financial CHOICE Act is a positive, first step toward the full repeal of Dodd-Frank and would provide significant financial regulatory reform that would boost our economy and increase income for all Americans. According to the CBO, it would also reduce federal deficits by over $24 billion and provide much needed regulatory relief to community banks.

Retailers oppose a provision in the bill that would repeal the Durbin Amendment – a government price control on debit card swipe fees that banks charge retailers. There are also rumors that some members of Congress want to add an Export-Import bank amendment to the bill that would lower the quorum requirements for the bank so that it can approve loans of more than $10 million. Heritage Action opposes any amendments that remove the repeal of the Durbin Amendment or strengthen the Ex-Im bank. Heritage Action endorses the CHOICE Act as currently written and urges conservatives to contact their member of Congress to support the bill. A House floor vote is expected in early June.

Resources:

Heritage Action legislative endorsement, click here.

Sentinel Brief, click here.

Daily Signal blog, click here.

Congressional Budget Office report, click here.

Appropriations: President Trump will unveil his FY 2018 budget tomorrow that will allow the appropriations committees to begin working on funding bills. The appropriations process could begin to move in the House in June, first through the committee and then to the House floor. We should not expect much, if any, action from the Senate since Democrats typically obstruct any appropriations bill early in the process to increase their negotiating leverage near the funding deadline. That is one reason Congress should consider moving a couple key bills through the process early and force Senate Democrats to block those bills. Any legislation the House chooses would be complicated, but possible.

For example, the House could package two funding bills together — the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the bill that funds Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) — and attach two key provisions: southern border wall funding and penalties for sanctuary cities. Moving those two bills early would frame the debate around two key administration priorities and potentially put red state Senate Democrats on defense. If the GOP is unified around this goal — or any similar goal — and moves early, conservatives can define the playing field for the next funding fight and hopefully avoid another bad omnibus funding package in September. If the GOP does not move, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren will define the fight. It is an easy choice.

Net Neutrality Repeal: Last Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal regulations on internet services providers (ISPs) recently established under net neutrality rules. Under the Obama administration, the FCC reclassified the internet as a common carrier subject to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This reclassification undermines internet freedom by allowing the government to regulate the internet similar to how it regulates telephone carriers. Specifically, President Obama’s FCC wanted the power to control how much broadband providers such Verizon, AT&T and Comcast can charge customers for internet usage. The federal government should not be in the practice of enacting price controls. The FCC vote will benefit internet consumers by enabling ISPs to provide lower prices and better services, free from government regulation.

Resources:

Heritage Commentary: “Time to hit “delete” on net neutrality”, click here.

Stop Earmarks: A week after the resounding election of a President who campaigned to “drain the swamp” and end cronyism, Republicans in Congress attempted to lift the six-year old ban on earmarks behind closed doors. Earmarks are a form of pork-barrel spending politicians use to pass bad spending bills and redirect taxpayer dollars back to their own districts or states. The deadline for decision making was pushed back until June, giving conservatives more time to rally against the false claims being made by pork-backing lawmakers and special interest groups. Conservatives should encourage their congressmen to support the current ban on earmarks.

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Call Notes May 15, 2017

Congress is in Session and that means your Tweets, calls, emails and letters to the Editor are always appreciated and needed. Twitter is a great tool for Congressional accountability. So are well thought out letters to the Editor.

I often chat with group leaders who say they have over a hundred folks who are ‘members’ of their email list for their group but usually only about 20 folks attend the meeting. We understand you have many competing commitments for your time. I’d be happy to offer a webinar for your group, no matter how small or how large, to review Twitter and tips for getting the most out of your letter to the Editor. A webinar is a great way to re-engage members or build interest in your local meeting. Just let me know you are interested!

In case you missed the Sentinel Call, you can listen here:

http://heritageactionsentinel.com/call/obamacare-repeal-and-dodd-frank/

The House is back in session after a one-week recess. The Senate remains in session and will consider multiple nominations — Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Associate Attorney General and Ambassador to China — and continue negotiations on Obamacare repeal and replace legislation.

 

Obamacare Repeal: On May 4th, the House passed an amended version of the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628) by a final vote of 217 to 213with 20 Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition. Earlier in March, Speaker Paul Ryan was forced to pull the bill from the floor 18 days after it was first introduced due to serious concerns from both conservatives and moderate Republicans. Most conservative organizations and nearly all conservative health policy experts opposed the original version of the AHCA because it failed to repeal the regulatory architecture of Obamacare (Title I) that is responsible for the rising cost of health care premiums by a national average of 44.5 to 68 percent. Republicans of all stripes campaigned for over seven years to repeal all of Obamacare, including the Title I regulations, as clearly outlined in Speaker Ryan’s “A “Better Way” plan.
Over the Easter recess, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, worked out a deal to allow states to easily opt-out of core elements of Obamacare’s Title I insurance regulations if they set up high-risk pools to assist those with pre-existing chronic conditions. This compromise, along with a second amendment offered by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) adding $8 billion in assistance to those with pre-existing conditions, convinced enough conservatives and moderates to vote for the AHCA. Heritage Action withdrew its original key vote after House Republican leaders adopted the MacArthur-Meadows Amendment.

 

Heritage Action released the following statement from chief executive officer Michael A. Needham:

 

“Today’s vote ensures the Obamacare repeal effort can continue to move forward. Surely more must be done in the Senate, but the months-long negotiations in the House identified many of the key issues for senators to tackle. Representatives MacArthur and Meadows deserve tremendous credit for their good faith effort to address Obamacare’s regulatory architecture.

 

“There is no doubt the Republican Party is divided in fundamental ways, but for the years-long repeal effort to be successful, the Senate will have to demonstrate a level of cohesion and commitment that eluded House leaders. The process up until now has been disastrous, but we have confidence the bill can be improved upon in the Senate.”

 

It was clear House Republicans were not capable of doing better given the disastrous process, which is why nearly every House conservative voted for the amended AHCA and are eager to see the Senate take up and improve the bill. Trusting the Senate to make conservative improvements is usually a very bad idea, but when it comes to the budget reconciliation process it has proven successful in the recent past. The initial 2015 reconciliation bill passed by the House was dreadful — Heritage Action key voted against that bill too and only a handful of Republicans opposed by House leaders said it was the best they could do — but the Senate made the bill substantially better.

 

As counter intuitive as it sounds, conservatives have leverage and a great opportunity to make the bill better in the Senate. Senator Mitch McConnell is already leading a 13-member health care working group in the Senate that includes conservatives such as Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). According to news reports, Senate Republicans are united around the goal of lowering health care premiums by addressing the regulatory architecture of Obamacare, however serious policy differences remain on Medicaid, subsidies and regulations. Although there are no guarantees the outcome will be ideal, conservatives like you are making a difference by moving the bill in a better direction.

 

Resources:

Heritage Action statement on the Obamacare repeal effort, click here.

Heritage Action statement on the MacArthur-Meadows Amendment, click here.

Heritage Action face sheet on Obamacare Title I regulations, click here.

Heritage Action key vote, click here.

Sentinel Brief, click here.

Daily Signal blog, here.

 

Dodd-Frank Repeal: Earlier this month, the House Financial Services Committee passed a bill to repeal or replace some of the worst provisions contained in Dodd-Frank called the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers, and Entrepreneurs Act or Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10). Dodd-Frank codifies “too big to fail” policy, harms local community banks, restricts access to credit for investors and homebuyers, raises lending costs, reduces access to capital for small businesses, and created one of the most powerful and unaccountable federal agencies — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Evidence shows Dodd-Frank is one of the major factors responsible for the country’s historically slow economic recovery. The Financial CHOICE Act is a positive, first step toward the full repeal of Dodd-Frank and would provide significant financial regulatory reform that would boost our economy and increase income for all Americans. Retailers oppose a provision in the bill that would repeal the Durbin Amendment – a government price control on debit card swipe fees that banks charge retailers. Heritage Action endorses this legislation and urges conservatives to contact their member of Congress to support the bill, including the repeal of the Durbin Amendment.

 

Resources:

Heritage Action legislative endorsement, click here.

Sentinel Brief, click here.

Daily Signal blog, click here.

 

Repeal Net Neutrality: This Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote to repeal regulations on internet services providers (ISPs) recently established under net neutrality rules. Under the Obama administration, the FCC reclassified the Internet as a common carrier subject to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This reclassification undermines Internet freedom by allowing the government to regulate the Internet similar to how it regulates telephone carriers. Specifically, President Obama’s FCC wanted the power to control how much broadband providers such Verizon, AT&T and Comcast can charge customers for Internet usage.

 

The federal government should not be in the practice of enacting price controls. Consumers benefit with lower prices and better services when businesses are allowed to freely compete with one another, free from government regulation. Conservatives should contact the FCC and ask them to repeal net neutrality and promote an open Internet. Tweet @AjitPaiFCC using #FreetheNet to show your support.

 

Resources:

Heritage Commentary: “Time to hit “delete” on net neutrality”, click here.

 

Stop Earmarks: A week after the resounding election of a President who campaigned to “drain the swamp” and end cronyism, Republicans in Congress attempted to lift the six-year old ban on earmarks behind closed doors. Earmarks are a form of pork-barrel spending politicians use to pass bad spending bills and redirect taxpayer dollars back to their own districts or states. The first deadline for decision making was pushed back until June, giving conservatives more time to rally against the false claims being made by pork-backing lawmakers and special interest groups. Conservatives should encourage their congressmen to support the current ban on earmarks.

 

Resources:

Daily Signal blog, click here.

Thank you for taking time to read through the Sentinel Call notes. I’ll be standing by to offer assistance. Let me know if you’d like to book a webinar for your group or for a few friends at your house!

Sincerely,

Melody

Melody Himel Clarke

(202) 716-9738

Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator

Tell a Friend about our Sentinel Program!

Follow us on Twitter: @Heritage_Action and me, @TheRightMelody.  Our hashtag is #Haction.

melody.clarke@heritageaction.com

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Call Notes May 8 2017

I hope this message finds you well! I also wanted to encourage you to contact me in the event you have any questions or concerns regarding policy, process or the recent change in management teams at The Heritage Foundation.  Feel free to email me or call me at 202-716-9738.

Our mission at Heritage Action remains unchanged, which simplified is to promote conservative policies in Congress through education and accountability. As always, we are successful because of Sentinels like you who take action on the important issues in Congress!

The House is on a one-week recess and will return to session next Tuesday. The Senate remains in session and will consider multiple nominations and potentially a resolution to strike down an Obama-era methane rule.

 

Obamacare Repeal: Last week the House passed an amended version the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628) by a final vote of 217 to 213 with 20 Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition. Earlier in March, Speaker Paul Ryan was forced to pull the bill from the floor 18 days after it was first introduced due to serious concerns from both conservatives and moderate Republicans. Most conservative organizations and nearly all conservative health policy experts opposed the original version of the AHCA because it failed to repeal the regulatory architecture of Obamacare (Title I) that is responsible for the rising cost of health care premiums by a national average of 44.5 to 68 percent. Republicans of all stripes campaigned for over seven years to repeal all of Obamacare, including the Title I regulations, as clearly outlined in Speaker Ryan’s “A “Better Way” plan.  

 
Over the Easter recess, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, worked out a deal to allow states to easily opt-out of core elements of Obamacare’s Title I insurance regulations if they set up high-risk pools to assist those with pre-existing chronic conditions. This compromise, along with a second amendment offered by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) adding $8 billion in assistance to those with pre-existing conditions, convinced enough conservatives and moderates to vote for the AHCA. Heritage Action withdrew its original key vote after House Republican leaders adopted the MacArthur-Meadows Amendment.

 

Heritage Action released the following statement from chief executive officer Michael A. Needham:

 

“Today’s vote ensures the Obamacare repeal effort can continue to move forward. Surely more must be done in the Senate, but the months-long negotiations in the House identified many of the key issues for senators to tackle. Representatives MacArthur and Meadows deserve tremendous credit for their good faith effort to address Obamacare’s regulatory architecture.

 

“There is no doubt the Republican Party is divided in fundamental ways, but for the years-long repeal effort to be successful, the Senate will have to demonstrate a level of cohesion and commitment that eluded House leaders. The process up until now has been disastrous, but we have confidence the bill can be improved upon in the Senate.”

 

It was clear House Republicans were not capable of doing better given the disastrous process, which is why nearly every House conservative voted for the amended AHCA and are eager to see the Senate take up and improve the bill. Trusting the Senate to make conservative improvements is usually a very bad idea, but when it comes to the budget reconciliation process it have proven successful in the recent past. The initial 2015 reconciliation bill passed by the House was dreadful — Heritage Action key voted against that bill too and only a handful of Republicans opposed by House leaders said it was the best they could do — but the Senate made the bill substantially better.

 

As counterintuitive as it sounds, conservatives have leverage and a great opportunity to make the bill better in the Senate. Senator Mitch McConnell is already leading a 13-member health care working group in the Senate that includes conservatives such as Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). Although there are no guarantees the outcome will be ideal, conservatives like you are making a difference by moving the bill in a better direction.

 

Resources:

Heritage Action statement on the Obamacare repeal effort, click here.

Heritage Action statement on the MacArthur-Meadows Amendment, click here.

Heritage Action face sheet on Obamacare Title I regulations, click here.

Heritage Action key vote, click here.

Sentinel Brief, click here.

 

Dodd-Frank Repeal: Last week the House Financial Services Committee passed a bill to repeal or replace some of the worst provisions contained in Dodd-Frank called the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers, and Entrepreneurs Act or Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10). Dodd-Frank codifies “too big to fail” policy, harms local community banks, restricts access to credit for investors and homebuyers, raises lending costs, reduces access to capital for small businesses, and created one of the most powerful and unaccountable federal agencies — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Evidence shows Dodd-Frank is one of the major factors responsible for the country’s historically slow economic recovery. The Financial CHOICE Act is a positive, first step toward the full repeal of Dodd-Frank and would provide significant financial regulatory reform that would boost our economy and increase income for all Americans. Heritage Action endorses this legislation and urges conservatives to contact their member of Congress to support the bill.

 

Resources:

Heritage Action legislative endorsement, click here.

Sentinel Brief, click here.

 

Omnibus Spending Bill: Last week Congress passed, and the President signed into law, a 1,665-page trillion dollar omnibus spending bill (H.R. 244) that funds the government through September 30, 2017. Heritage Actionkey voted against this bill because it failed to advance conservative policy, including funding for a southern border wall, and spent too much money ($93 billion above the Budget Control Act) without reducing non-defense spending or adequately funding the military. Congress should mitigate the potential for another bad omnibus at the end of September by passing defense spending appropriations bills separately and as soon as possible.

 

Resources:

Heritage Action key vote, click here.

Daily Signal blog, click here.

 

Stop Earmarks: A week after the resounding election of a President who campaigned to “drain the swamp” and end cronyism, Republicans in Congress attempted to lift the six-year old ban on earmarks behind closed doors. Earmarks are a form of pork-barrel spending politicians use to pass bad spending bills and redirect taxpayer dollars back to their own districts or states. The deadline for decision making was pushed back until June, giving conservatives more time to rally against the false claims being made by pork-backing lawmakers and special interest groups. Conservatives should encourage their congressmen to support the current ban on earmarks.

 

Resources:

Daily Signal blog, click here.

I’ll be standing by in case you have questions or need assistance.

Sincerely,

Melody

Melody Himel Clarke

(202) 716-9738

Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator

Tell a Friend about our Sentinel Program!

Follow us on Twitter: @Heritage_Action and me, @TheRightMelody.  Our hashtag is #Haction.

melody.clarke@heritageaction.com

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Heritage Call Notes May 1, 2017

The House and Senate are in session and have four days before government discretionary funding lapses. Last week, Congress passed a one-week continuing resolution (H.J. Res 99) moving the deadline to May 5th. This week, Congress will consider legislation to fund the federal government the rest of the fiscal year and may consider a revised Obamacare repeal bill.

 

Omnibus Spending Bill: This morning at 2 a.m., House Republican leadership unveiled a 1,665-page trillion dollar omnibus spending bill (H.R. 244) that would fund the government through September 30, 2017. As Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) recently reminded us, Congress passed a short-term spending bill last fall so that Republicans could pass conservative policies if they won the election: “So, if this is the deal we’re going to get, it seems to be we should have just did the bill for the whole year. But we specifically held a vote – we did a short-term spending bill for this time, so that when Republicans control the government, we could actually do the things we campaigned on.”

 

Unfortunately, House Republican leadership chose not to work with conservatives or President Trump to “do the things we campaigned on,” but instead made concession to Democrats to secure enough votes to pass a bad spending bill. President Trump initially requested an $18 billion reduction in non-defense spending while also providing an additional $30 billion for the military and $1.5 billion for construction of a southern border wall. Many conservatives agreed with the President and wanted the spending bill to reflect conservative policy priorities as well as lower overall federal spending.

 

The bill leadership introduced fails to include any of the $18 billion in 2017 cuts proposed in President Trump’s “skinny budget” while providing our military with only half of what the President requested. In addition, the bill does not include funding for a southern border wall, funding restrictions on sanctuary cities, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, or any other conservative policy riders such as the elimination of various financial and environmental regulations enacted under former President Barrack Obama. It also increases total federal spending for fiscal year 2017 to $1.070 trillion – $30 billion higher than the original 2011 caps established by the bipartisan Budget Control Act (BCA). Overall, the bill pushes spending $93 billion above the original Budget Control Act when accounting for spending not subject to the caps, like emergency spending.

 

This bill resembles more of an Obama administration-era spending compromise than a Trump one. Heritage Action intends to key vote “NO” on H.R. 244 and urges conservatives to tell their members of Congress to oppose the bill. Click here to read a Daily Signal article on how this omnibus spending bill fails to meet conservative priorities.

 

Terminology Defined: During this upcoming omnibus spending fight, we thought it might be helpful to explain some of the different terminology that pops up during the appropriations process.

  • The Budget: Each year Congress is required to pass a budget resolution that sets the parameters for the spending and tax bills under consideration. A congressional budget is not signed by the President into law, but rather sets spending levels to each Appropriations subcommittee each fiscal year.

  • Budget Request: The president proposes his own budget and sends it to Congress for consideration, but Congress is not bound by these suggestions.

  • Regular Appropriations Bills: These are annual bills that spend or “appropriate” money. The appropriations process is divided into 12 different bills, each one under the purview of a different appropriations subcommittee. In theory, Congress considers these bills separately.

  • Omnibus Spending Bill: For a variety of reasons, Congress usually fails to pass the regular individual appropriations bill on time. Instead, Congress usually bundles all 12 spending bills into one large bill at the end of the fiscal year, known as an omnibus. These bills are thousands of pages long and normally impossible to fully read by members and their staff. As a result, omnibus bills are often filled with special interest provisions inserted at the last minute.

  • Continuing Resolution: As an alternative to passing an omnibus bill, Congress considers a continuing resolution (CR) to continue appropriations at the same levels as previously signed into law. At times, A CR will also make significant adjustments to specific spending programs or adding additional funding limitations (e.g. defunding Planned Parenthood, executive amnesty, etc.). A CR can extend funding for short periods of time or for an entire fiscal year. If Congress is backed up against a spending deadline, conservatives often push for a CR over an omnibus because it takes power away from the Appropriations Committees and avoids the danger of special interest provisions being inserted at the 11th hour.

  • Cromnibus: A cromnibus is a rare bill that contains elements of an omnibus spending bill and a CR. If, for example, the omnibus spending bill only bundles together 11 bills, but adds to it a CR that affects programs covered by the 12th, the conglomerate is called a cromnibus.

 

Obamacare Repeal Debate in Review: Last summer, House Republicans released their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. The “Better Way” said:

 

“Obamacare is making things worse by the day. It drives up premiums and deductible costs for individuals, families, and businesses. It forces people off the plans they like. It fuels waste, fraud, and abuse. And it cannot be fixed. Its knot of regulations, taxes, and mandates cannot be untangled. Obamacare must be fully repealed so we can start over and take a new approach.”

 

This is exactly right. It is what Republicans campaigned on in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. It is what they voted on dozens of time. And it is what they promised America if they won the House, Senate and White House. It was the type of approach that would have united the Republican Party; instead, House Speaker Paul Ryan worked with a small group of moderate lawmakers to draft the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628). This bill was bad policy and bad politics, but it was also bad process. Conservative lawmakers were left out, conservative health care scholars were left out, and conservative activists were left out.

 

Thankfully, conservatives inside the beltway, led by the House Freedom Caucus and Heritage Action, and conservatives outside the beltway like you rejected the AHCA for a variety of reasons, but mainly for its failure to include a repeal of the regulatory architecture of Obamacare that is responsible for the rising cost of health care. This regulatory architecture is found in Title I of Obamacare and includes a number of insurance regulations and mandates such as community rating, essential health benefits, guarantee issue, actuarial value, among others. Taken together, these mandates and regulations restrict consumer choice and drive up the cost of health care premiums by a national average of 44.5 to 68 percent. If the House passed the AHCA and it was signed into law, the heart of Obamacare would have remained the law of the land and health care premiums would have continued to increase leading up to the 2018 elections.

 

Why in the world has Obamacare repeal been so hard? Well the answer is actually simple: far too many Republicans like the basic premise of Obamacare, which was to turn health insurance companies into publicly regulated utilities. They ran on repeal because it was a good political message — during the 2010 midterms there was $108 million in ads against Obamacare and 87 new Republicans were elected — but few ever thought they would have an opportunity to actually repeal the law. Heritage Action has critiqued liberal members of the Republican Party — namely the House Tuesday Group — for their unwillingness to advance conservative priorities, but their acceptance of Obamacare is stunning.

 

Move the Obamacare Repeal Process Forward:  A draft amendment, the product of weeks-long negotiations by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), currently circulating would allow states to opt out of core elements of Obamacare’s regulatory architecture. Heritage Action released the following statement from chief executive officer Michael A. Needham:

 

“Representatives MacArthur and Meadows deserve tremendous credit for their good faith negotiations to improve the bill. Their proposed amendment advances the debate and raises key issues for the Senate to consider as the effort to repeal Obamacare moves forward.

 

“To be clear, this is not full repeal and it is not what Republicans campaigned on or outlined in the Better Way agenda. The amendment does, however, represent important progress in what has been a disastrous process. Given the extreme divides in the Republican Party, allowing Texas and South Carolina to make different decisions on health insurance regulations than New York and New Jersey may be the only way forward.”

 

Heritage Action will withdraw the current House key vote against the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628) if the MacArthur-Meadows Amendment, as currently understood and drafted, is adopted. It is clear that House Republican leaders are not capable of doing better, which is why many House conservatives are eager to advance as much as they can in the House — to them, it is this waiver system — and then let the Senate take the baton. That is usually a very bad idea, but when it comes to the budget reconciliation process it have proven successful in the recent past. The initial 2015 reconciliation bill passed by the House was dreadful — Heritage Action key voted against that bill too and only a handful of Republicans opposed by House leaders said it was the best they could do — but the Senate made the bill substantially better.

 

As counterintuitive as it sounds, conservatives have leverage and a great opportunity to make the bill better in the Senate. They need to do that. And those conversations are already happening as conservatives are being brought in. Even before the debate has started, the Senate is taking a different approach than Paul Ryan did although there are no guarantees the outcome will be ideal. But whatever the House passes will not be the conclusion of that effort, it will be the beginning of that effort, and thanks to all of your work the Washington Establishment did not move on when things got difficult.

 

Click here to read more about how the MacArthur-Meadows amendment moves the Obamacare repeal process forward. Click here to read Heritage Action’s most recent statement on the compromise. Click here to read Heritage Action’s key vote on the bill and here to read the latest Sentinel brief on how to improve the AHCA.

 

Dodd-Frank Repeal: Last week, Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) of the House Financial Services Committee re-introduced a bill to repeal or replace some of the worst provisions contained in Dodd-Frank called the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers, and Entrepreneurs Act or Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10). The committee will markup the bill starting tomorrow.

 

Dodd-Frank codifies “too big to fail” policy, harms local community banks, restricts access to credit for investors and homebuyers, raises lending costs, reduces access to capital for small businesses, and created one of the most powerful and unaccountable federal agencies — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Evidence showsDodd-Frank is one of the major factors responsible for the country’s historically slow economic recovery.

 

In 2016, Chairman Hensarling successfully passed the originally version of the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 5983) out of committee but the bill never received a House floor vote. Now that Congress has a President supportive of rolling back Dodd-Frank, Chairman Hensarling has a perfect opportunity to pass the Financial CHOICE Act out of his committee and onto the House floor. Conservatives should contact their member of Congress and urge them to support this bill as a significant, positive first step toward full repeal of Dodd-Frank.

 

Click here to read Heritage Action’s legislative endorsement of the bill.

 

Stop Earmarks: A week after the resounding election of a President who campaigned to “drain the swamp” and end cronyism, Republicans in Congress attempted to lift the six-year old ban on earmarks behind closed doors. Earmarks are a form of pork-barrel spending politicians use to pass bad spending bills and redirect taxpayer dollars back to their own districts or states. According to multiple news reports, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) tabled the earmark proposal just before it was about to pass, but Ryan promised to create an internal working group to study the issue and propose a way forward by March 31st. The deadline for decision making was pushed back until June, giving conservatives more time to rally against the false claims being made by pork-backing lawmakers and special interest groups. Conservatives should encourage their congressmen to support the current ban on earmarks. Clickhere to read a Daily Signal article discussing how to convince your friends that earmarks have no place in Congress.

Thank you for taking the time to take action today!

Sincerely,

Melody

Melody Himel Clarke

(202) 716-9738

Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator

Tell a Friend about our Sentinel Program!

Follow us on Twitter: @Heritage_Action and me, @TheRightMelody.  Our hashtag is #Haction.

melody.clarke@heritageaction.com


Heritage Call Notes April 24, 2017

Please be sure your Representative and Senators hear from you on the important policy discussions outlined below! I will be standing by to assist. Please let me know any questions you may have or any way I may help.

The House and Senate are back from their two-week Easter recess and have four days before government discretionary funding lapses. Congress will consider legislation to fund the federal government past April 28th and may consider a revised version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The Senate confirmed Sonny Perdue as Agricultural Secretary earlier today.

 

Continuing Resolution (CR): Lawmakers have until Friday to extend federal discretionary funding beyond the current April 28th deadline. President Trump initially requested an $18 billion reduction in spending over the next five months while also providing an additional $30 billion for the military and$1.5 billion for construction of a southern border wall. Many conservatives agree with the President and would like the spending bill to reflect conservative policy priorities as well as lower overall federal spending. While nothing has been decided, these asks appear to be dead on arrival even though Republicans control the House and Senate.

 

Referencing conservatives, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said: “They have to work with somebody to keep the government open…So if you can come to the table, great. If you can’t, then don’t be surprised if the train moves in another direction; because it has to.” One report suggested that “The White House felt like the plans — at least where they stood [in March] — could’ve been drafted by Obama.”

 

Even though the deadline is just a few days away, rank-and-file Republicans have no clue what their leadership will ask them to vote for later this week. While conservative lawmakers and their constituents are left in the dark, Senate Democrats are demanding no funding for the border wall and want to include billions in funding to bail out insurance companies under Obamacare known as “cost-sharing subsidies.”
Any funding bill should be used to advance key administration priorities, including overall spending levels and key policy changes, such as funds to begin building the southern border wall. Additionally, no funding should be appropriated for Obamacare’s cost sharing subsidies.

 

Obamacare Repeal Debate Continues: Last summer, House Republicans released their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. The “Better Way” said:

 

“Obamacare is making things worse by the day. It drives up premiums and deductible costs for individuals, families, and businesses. It forces people off the plans they like. It fuels waste, fraud, and abuse. And it cannot be fixed. Its knot of regulations, taxes, and mandates cannot be untangled. Obamacare must be fully repealed so we can start over and take a new approach.”

 

This is exactly right. It is what Republicans campaigned on in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. It is what they voted on dozens of time. And it is what they promised America if they won the House, Senate and White House. It was the type of approach that would have united the Republican Party; instead, House Speaker Paul Ryan worked with a small group of moderate lawmakers to draft the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628). This bill was bad policy and bad politics, but it was also bad process. Conservative lawmakers were left out, conservative health care scholars were left out, and conservative activists were left out.

 

Thankfully, conservatives inside the beltway, led by the House Freedom Caucus and Heritage Action, and conservatives outside the beltway like you rejected the AHCA for a variety of reasons, but mainly for its failure to include a repeal of the regulatory architecture of Obamacare that is responsible for the rising cost of health care. This regulatory architecture is found in Title I of Obamacare and includes a number of insurance regulations and mandates such as community rating, essential health benefits, guarantee issue, actuarial value, among others. Taken together, these mandates and regulations restrict consumer choice and drive up the cost of health care premiums by a national average of 44.5 to 68 percent. If the House passed the AHCA and it was signed into law, the heart of Obamacare would have remained the law of the land and health care premiums would have continued to increase leading up to the 2018 elections.

 

Why in the world has Obamacare repeal been so hard? Well the answer is actually simple: far too many Republicans like the basic premise of Obamacare, which was to turn health insurance companies into publicly regulated utilities. They ran on repeal because it was a good political message — during the 2010 midterms there was $108 million in ads against Obamacare and 87 new Republicans were elected — but few ever thought they would have an opportunity to actually repeal the law. Heritage Action has critiqued liberal members of the Republican Party — namely the House Tuesday Group — for their unwillingness to advance conservative priorities, but their acceptance of Obamacare is stunning.

 

Fortunately, last week it was reported that Mark Meadows — the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus — is negotiating with Tom MacArthur — the chairman of the House Tuesday Group — on Obamacare. Contrary to Paul Ryan and House leadership’s desire to run away from Obamacare repeal, Meadows is negotiating in good faith to do three things:

 

  1. Expose the role Obamacare’s regulatory architecture plays in increasing premiums and dictating health insurance plans;

  2. Ensure the Ryan bill gets at some of those core regulations; and

  3. Move the debate forward to the Senate where Paul Ryan and many of those liberal Republicans cannot play a role in the debate.

The policy has been discussed at length before — a system of state waivers that allow states to opt out of core elements of Obamacare’s regulatory architecture. To be absolutely clear — this is not full repeal. This is not what Republicans campaigned on. It is not what candidate Trump promised. And it is most certainly not what conservatives voted for when going to the polls.

 

The current debate is the result of a disastrous process led by a Republican leadership team that was overly focused on catering to its liberal and moderate members instead of delivering on the conservative promises the Party campaigned and won on. In that context, there are three key points to evaluate when language becomes available:

 

  1. Which regulations will states be able to opt out of?

  2. How easy will it be for states to receive a waiver?

  3. How long will the waivers last?

It is clear that House Republican leaders are not capable of doing better, which is why many House conservatives are eager to advance as much as they can in the House — to them, it is this waiver system — and then let the Senate take the baton. That is usually a very bad idea, but when it comes to the budget reconciliation process it have proven successful in the recent past. The initial 2015 reconciliation bill passed by the House was dreadful — Heritage Action key voted against that bill too and only a handful of Republicans opposed by House leaders said it was the best they could do — but the Senate made the bill substantially better.

 

As counterintuitive as it sounds, conservatives have leverage and a great opportunity to make the bill better in the Senate. They need to do that. And those conversations are already happening as conservatives are being brought in. Even before the debate has started, the Senate is taking a different approach than Paul Ryan did although there are no guarantees the outcome will be ideal. But whatever the House passes will not be the conclusion of that effort, it will be the beginning of that effort, and thanks to all of your work the Washington Establishment did not move on when things got difficult.

 

This week will be busy with the government funding deadline taking most of the legislative oxygen, but text of the MacArthur-Meadows Amendment could be made available later this week and potentially a vote on a revised AHCA next week. Nothing is set in stone. Text is not publicly available. Liberal Republicans may recoil at even the hint of federalism and things could change dramatically over the next week or so. What will not change though is the total distrust of the House leadership of this process. In many ways the process has created an irredeemable product and we will need other voices in the legislative process to move things closer to what the American people were promised.

 

Click here to read Heritage Action’s fact sheet on how the GOP campaigned on repealing Obamacare’s community rating provision. Click here to read Heritage Action’s key vote on the bill and here to read the latest Sentinel brief on how to improve the AHCA.

 

Dodd-Frank Repeal: Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) of the House Financial Services Committee is expected to re-introduce a bill to repeal or replace some of the worst provisions contained in Dodd-Frank called the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers, and Entrepreneurs Act orFinancial CHOICE Act. The committee will markup and introduce the bill this week.

 

In 2016, Chairman Hensarling successfully passed the originally version of the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 5983) out of committee but the bill never received a House floor vote. Dodd-Frank codifies “too big to fail” policy, harms local community banks, restricts access to credit for investors and homebuyers, raises lending costs, reduces access to capital for small businesses, and created one of the most powerful and unaccountable federal agencies — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Evidenceshows Dodd-Frank is one of the major factors responsible for the country’s historically slow economic recovery.

 

Now that Congress has a President supportive of rolling back Dodd-Frank, Chairman Hensarling has a perfect opportunity to improve and pass Financial CHOICE Act 2.0 out of his committee and onto the House floor. Congress should use this momentum to pass Financial CHOICE Act 2.0 and sent it over to the Senate for consideration. Congress could also use budget reconciliation to defund the CFPB and pass a number of other provisions contained in the bill later this year. Click here to read Heritage Action’s legislative endorsement of the bill.

 

Stop Earmarks: A week after the resounding election of a President who campaigned to “drain the swamp” and end cronyism, Republicans in Congress attempted to lift the six-year old ban on earmarks behind closed doors. Earmarks are a form of pork-barrel spending politicians use to pass bad spending bills and redirect taxpayer dollars back to their own districts or states. According to multiple news reports, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) tabled the earmark proposal just before it was about to pass, but Ryan promised to create an internal working group to study the issue and propose a way forward by March 31st. The deadline for decision making was pushed back until June, giving conservatives more time to rally against the false claims being made by pork-backing lawmakers and special interest groups. Conservatives should encourage their congressmen to support the current ban on earmarks. Click here to read a Daily Signal article discussing how to convince your friends that earmarks have no place in Congress.

Thank you for all you do to hold Congress accountable to conservative principles!

Sincerely,

Melody

Melody Himel Clarke

(202) 716-9738

Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator

Tell a Friend about our Sentinel Program!

Follow us on Twitter: @Heritage_Action and me, @TheRightMelody.  Our hashtag is #Haction.

melody.clarke@heritageaction.com