In this week’s update:
The Republicans' Healthcare Shock
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's decision to pull the GOP's bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act shocked even his top lieutenants, who knew the support wasn't there but expected the Kentucky Republican to drive ahead with a vote as promised.
Instead, McConnell surprised members of his caucus when he announced that he was pulling the bill. The episode was a stunning turn of events considering that in March, when the House was going through its own “repeal and replace” stumbles, McConnell boasted that the Senate could pass a repeal bill in a week.
Everyone in the Senate took him at his word that a vote would occur last week, which is why the decision to punt the bill was so surprising; that being said, McConnell has never been the type of leader to put a bill on the floor that he knows will fail.
"Tinkering isn't going to work, from my perspective. There would have to be a major overhaul of the bill ... to win my support" said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).
So what happens next? Congress left on Thursday, June 29 for a week-long Fourth of July recess. McConnell, meanwhile, hopes to "strike a new deal by Friday or Saturday, with plans to have the Congressional Budget Office analyze that proposal and to hold a vote soon after the recess."
But even if the GOP follows McConnell's new timeline, Republican senators will have nine days at home dealing with people opposed to the Senate bill, a new CBO score and more critical media coverage.
McConnell and President Donald Trump must persuade all but two of the following Senators, who are currently opposed to the Senate bill, to reverse course: Mike Lee (UT), Rand Paul (KY), Ron Johnson (WI), Susan Collins (ME), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Rob Portman (OH), Dean Heller (NV), and Jerry Moran (KS).
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Congress Approves Extra Money for Security
Last week, the House passed a measure that grants lawmakers an extra $25,000 to pay for security needs in the wake of the shooting at the GOP baseball practice this month.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had briefed House Republicans about possibly expanding lawmakers’ annual office budgets to help pay for security costs. House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) then brought up a resolution four days later that passed by unanimous consent.
"This month, our congressional community was impacted by a terrible, senseless attack committed by an armed gunman who opened fire at a practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game,” Harper said in a statement. "While federal law enforcement continues to investigate this attack, our committee has been listening to Members and their concerns regarding the safety of their constituents, staffers, as well as themselves.”
The funds allocated by the resolution will be available to House members through January 2, 2018. Lawmakers will be able to use the extra money to pay for security at their offices or public events, as long is it is for official business. They cannot use the extra funding to secure their homes.
Ryan told House Republicans that leaders are trying to find ways to help with home security after lawmakers expressed concern about facing threats at their personal residences. One option would be for the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to rule that lawmakers could use campaign funds to secure their homes. To date, the FEC has issued case-by-case rulings to let members of Congress use campaign money for that purpose. Members of both parties had called on leadership to enhance security measures after the shooting at the GOP baseball practice earlier this month.
Members of leadership are all assigned individual Capitol Police security details. Lawmakers acknowledged that the shooting likely would have been much worse if House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and his detail had not been present at the practice.
House appropriators also released a spending bill for 2018 legislative branch operations last week that would increase funding for the Capitol Police by $29.2 million compared to the current spending level. That increase includes $7.5 million for increased training and equipment support.
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NFDA PAC News
The NFDA PAC recently joined with NFDA Past President Pat Lynch to cosponsor an event in support of Senator Gary Peters (D-MI). The event, which was held at the home of Pat and his wife Mary Callaghan Lynch, was attended by about 30 people who wanted to recognize Peters’ long-term support of funeral service. Several Michigan funeral directors attended the fundraising breakfast, as did representatives from the Michigan Funeral Directors Association. Peters was very appreciative the Lynch’s support and willingness to organize such a wonderful event.
If you are interested in hosting a similar event for your member of Congress, please contact Lesley Witter, senior vice president of advocacy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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