Tags Posts tagged with "Senate"

Senate

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John McCain
Something seemed off during McCain's questioning of James Comey... was that an early sign that something was off?

Sen. John McCain has recently been diagnosed with brain cancer and the sad news had its effects on a healthcare negotiations meeting set for Wednesday night.

During the meeting, more than a dozen GOP senators were led by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) in prayers for the senator. And as the meeting ended, the senators were all concerned and praised their colleague for all he contributed.

Sen. John Hoeven said that he was “emotional and stunned” at the news. Similarly, there were many other comments including “shook” and “upset” and Sen. John Kennedy said that, “We stopped, and said a prayer for John and his family.”

One of the senator’s best friends, Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC.), was visibly upset and discussed the conversation he had with McCain on Wednesday. He said, “He says I’ve been through worse, so pray. …This disease has never had a more worthy opponent.”

On Wednesday night, McCain’s office officially announced that a brain tumor was found after the senator’s treatment to remove a blood clot from above his left eye. The announcement lead to offers of support and good wishes from both parties.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called McCain “a man who fought and bled and served our nation” and also praised his McCain’s after the GOP meeting. He further added, “All of us stopped. It was a sobering moment. John is someone we work with, we serve with, we respect and it is very sad news.”

McCain’s Democratic colleagues used social media to praise the senator, who is much respected by both parties.

President Obama tweeted, “cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell John.” President Obama served with Senator McCain and defeated him in the 2008 elections.

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer added, “You are a true fighter [and] I’ll be praying for you until you beat this. I know you will.”

“You are a true fighter [and] I’ll be praying for you until you beat this. I know you will,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted.

The absence of Sen. McCain due to his surgery led to the postponement of a vote on the GOP’s healthcare plan to the next week. And while the GOP’s top priority is McCain’s health, they also fear that further absence would cause further delays in signing of the legislation.

Sen. Bob Corker told reporters after the GOP meeting that everyone is extremely worried about McCain’s health, “but you understand the math, so obviously makes things difficult.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), after praising McCain, further said that it “does complicate things and I just don’t know if he can be back next week.”

McCain’s absence from Washington leaves GOP leadership with an even narrower path to passing their bill.

Republicans are working hard to get a House-passed healthcare bill and are hoping to get most of the proceedings done early next week. GOP will only need a simple majority on the bill to have the legislation passed, and all votes would matter, and hence they are hoping for McCain’s return as they don’t want to lose such an important vote.

If the voting is in GOP’s favor, they would have a chance to repeal and replace ObamaCare and propose a new healthcare plan instead.

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Blame Game
"The buck stops over there!" "No it doesn't, it stops over there!"

Mitch McConnell faced embarrassment and failure once again as two more Republicans announced their disapproval of the Affordable Health Care Act. In his two and a half years as the Senate majority leader, this Monday was perhaps the most humiliating defeat for McConnell.

The GOP healthcare bill collapses with seven years of hard work going down the drain, as the Republicans fall short of votes and lost, with only 47 of the 50 votes they needed. The effort to “repeal and immediately replace” Obamacare “will not be successful,” stated McConnell.

“In the coming days, the Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Obama: a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period,” McConnell said.

The blame game started immediately as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) expresses how surprised he was to read in the Washington Post that McConnell was debating that “major reforms to Medicaid were so far in the distance that they would never take effect. Johnson said Monday that he’d confirmed through conversations with other senators that McConnell had made the remarks,” as noted by Politico.

“The reported comments from Leader McConnell before last Thursday about ‘don’t worry about these Medicaid changes, they won’t take effect,’ that’s troubling to me. I have talked to senators that basically confirmed that. I’ll see what Leader McConnell says tomorrow,” Johnson stated. “From my standpoint, it’s a pretty serious breach of trust, those comments. I’m just troubled by those comments,” he added.

McConnell didn’t stand back from replying and fired back that, “I prefer to speak for myself, and my view is that the Medicaid per capita cap with a responsible growth rate that is sustainable for taxpayers is the most important long-term reform in the bill. That is why it has been in each draft we have released.”

While, their “Failure to pass an Obamacare repeal could upend the entire Republican agenda. The party has spent nearly seven months on a health care overhaul, with hopes it would ease the path to tax reform. Now Trump and the GOP-led Congress are staring at an impending August recess with no major legislative achievements in hand.” noted Politico.

However, the President Trump administration doesn’t seem to be very least shook by the failure. It was noted that President Trump held a dinner with GOP senators on Monday evening where he mentioned that entire party were like “dopes” in event that they fail to pass the bill after a repeal bill was successfully passed under the Obama administration. “If the Republicans have the House, Senate and the presidency and they can’t pass this health care bill they are going to look weak,” Trump had stated. And that,“How can we not do this after promising it for years?”

However, as Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas announced that they would not be supporting the bill, the Trump administration took it as a good sign with President Trump  tweeting, “Republicans should just ‘REPEAL’ failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!”

“President Trump, intent on delivering a win no matter the terms, insists on pushing on now with flat-out Obamacare repeal, content to set the clock back to 2009 while waiting for the mythic unicorn of a workable replacement bill to arrive,” notes the NY Post, just as Gov. Cuomo, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Mayor de Blasio announced that they are willing to sue the federal government if President Trump decides on signing the failed bill into a law.

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Special Interest
They are fighting over your taxpayer money, as usual... Drain The Swamp!

As we come to yet another session of voting on the Healthcare bill, the divide within the medical community is very clear and rather alarming.

Many doctors and hospitals are very strongly advocating against the bill, while some even took the initiative of sending letters to the leaders of the Senate, addressing their concerns about the $772 billion the bill is set to cut from Medicaid.

The ObamaCare repeal bill includes deep cuts being made on Medicaid and focuses on reshaping the program to a system that relies on capped federal payments and limits spending.

A recent study further highlights that the bill favors the rich far more than the poor population. The Time talks about the study, “A new study, released Tuesday, offers one reason why: The measure dramatically favors the wealthiest Americans, at the expense of the least well off. The study, conducted by the Tax Policy Center — a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute and the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center — used economic models to estimate the effect of the Senate health bill’s impact on Americans in all different income groups.”

They further highlight that the studies shows, ” roughly 14 million American families earning $200,000 or more would enjoy an annual net benefit of roughly $5,400 a year by 2026, when the law would be fully implemented, the study found.

Poorer families would not benefit significantly from the bill’s tax cuts, and would be hurt by other provisions, which include less generous health insurance tax credits and less generous Medicaid spending than what they would be able to count on under Obamacare,” as stated by the Time.

While, those in favor of the bill pointed out that the bill contains provisions such as $140 billion in tax cuts and $50 billion over the course of four years to stabilize the insurance market. Furthermore, it also contains a little more than $60 million to help insurance providers cover patients with high costs.

The BlueCross BlueShield Association backed the bill by stating, “We are encouraged that the draft Senate legislation funds cost-sharing reductions, which help those who need it most with out-of-pocket costs, so they can access care,” the group said. “The state stability and innovation program will also go a long way in helping to cover the costs of caring for those with significant medical needs.”

Anthem, too showed their support and stated, “We believe the Senate discussion draft will markedly improve the stability of the individual market and moderate premium increases” because it appropriates billions of dollars in short-term funding to shore up the exchanges, provides cost-sharing reduction funds and eliminates a tax on health insurance plans, Anthem said in a statement.

Jeff Myers, president and CEO of Medicaid Health Plans of America expressed, “Reconciliation makes that kumbaya moment very hard,” and that at the time of ObamaCare, “while everyone was giving up something, there was some value in the creation of new opportunities. But they’re not passing out candy here.”

Moreover, it has been noted that the bill is most likely to adopt the tax cuts much similar to those implemented under ObamaCare.. Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune, of South Dakota said, “I don’t think anything is final, but obviously that is the direction I think a lot of our members want to move,” Thune said after a closed-door meeting with GOP lawmakers. “Which is to keep some of those [taxes] in place and be able to use those revenues to put into other places in the bill where it can make a difference.”

It is be noted, the Republicans are at least seven votes short of the 50 votes they need to get the bill approved by the Senate. Sources have highlighted that as soon as a draft copy of the bill was made available, quite a chunk of the GOP senators strongly expressed their discontent. The senators although argued against the bill, they too had divided opinion. While, some argued that the bill was not conservative enough, another group such as Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Dean Heller of Nevada argued that the bill appeared to be way too conservative.

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No Vacation
I'd say "get back to work you lazy guys!" but every time Congress is in session, it seems they just produce more bad laws...

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blames the Democratic Party, as he delays the August recess. McConnell announced the canceled of just about half of the Senate summer break, this Tuesday whilst stating that he will be needing lawmakers to continue to work, as they provide the Congress more time to thoroughly consider President Trump’s agenda, such as that on the issue of affordable healthcare.

McConnell argued that the Democratic Party’s opposition to just about everything that Trump and his administration proposes has made it very difficult for the congress to make to progress. He further argued that there is a lot to be within just a limited number of days, “There are other things that we have to do, and we only have a limited number of days left,” Mr. McConnell said. “We intend to fully utilize the first two weeks in August.”

“I think it’s just a realization: We have a lot of work to do and very little time, and the Democrats aren’t cooperating in the slightest,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican.

It is to be noted that the Democrats are trying their level best to produce hurdles for the Trump administration, every step of the way. While, former President Obama had 183 nominees confirmed at this point in his term, President Trump only has 46 confirmed out of some 178 nominations that he had submitted.

“We’re getting zero cooperation on the personnel part of the Senate’s portfolio, which is confirming nominations,” McConnell stated.

McConnell’s decision came as many Republican’s expressed that would not feel content during their time off, given that there are important things that need to be addressed.

“I don’t believe the Senate should go home if we haven’t do ne our job,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican.

The Democrats, on the other hand, strongly argued that the Republicans are pinning the blame for the delay and their failure to produce policies that take under account the best interests of the people of the United States.

“They’re struggling with health care. They don’t want to go home and face their constituents,” stated Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. “So what Mitch McConnell’s trying to do is sort of say to them, ‘Well, if you don’t do it in two weeks, we may have to stay here,’” he added. And that, “the problem is not the timing; it’s the substance.”

The House Freedom Caucus further stressed upon the immediate need to resolve any issues hindering the Congress from making progress. “There are too many unresolved issues before Congress, including tax reform, health care, the debt ceiling, government funding and more, to leave Washington before the people’s work is done,” they stated. “It is imperative that the additional weeks are coupled with decisive action.”

Rick Manning, president of the group Americans for Limited Government stated that it time for the Democrats to end their “collective temper tantrum.”

“It’s time for the Democrats’ collective temper tantrum to end, and Sen. McConnell must continue to ratchet up the pressure so that President Trump’s nominees and agenda have a chance of being considered,” he stated.

With the healthcare bill on the very top of their list of things to do, the Congress has a lot of work to take care of before the fiscal year ends.

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Senate Hearing
How can you drain the Swamp, when the Swamp has a say in every single one of your Administration's major personnel decisions?

Donald Trump opened the can of worms when he fired FBI Director, James Comey from his position for failing to deal with Hillary Clinton’s emails, and refusing to swear loyalty to him. There was a massive uproar in Washington, and there were even calls for obstruction of justice and impeachment by the Democrats. However, none of that has come to pass, since Trump made the decision on recommendation by his Attorney General, and after Comey testified in front of the senate the matter has been swept under the rug, for the time being at least.

Donald Trump took his time in selecting a nominee for the position of FBI Director, but he has now made his choice, and it is Christopher Wray, who will be testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. The notifications of the hearing have been sent out by the current chairman of the committee, Senator Chuck Grassley.

Making a Statement

Grassley had already made statements to the press about how he was going to hold a confirmation hearing for Wray this month, because he needed to get the Senate’s confirmation before the August break for lawmakers. This comes after he had a meeting with Trump’s nominee regarding his future as the Director of FBI and how he needs to woo lawmakers in Capitol Hill.

It has been nearly a month, since Trump fired James Comey as Director of FBI, because he thought that he was incapable of handling the numerous duties of the FBI, and was doing a poor job of handling the investigation considering relations between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

Leading the Nomination

Trump has now seen Wray fit to lead the FBI in a directorial position, and is confident that he will be able to do a much better job than former director James Comey. Wray also has previous experience, as he was overseeing the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and worked in the capacity of assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush.

During that time, he handled the Bridgegate scandal of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s (R), and analysts think that he will be grilled about that case in his confirmation hearing. The Democrats, who have been unanimous in their criticism on Trump for dismissing Comey, are supporting the nomination of Wray to be the new Director of the FBI.

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Sanders Trial
Will Bernie have to take the stand to defend his wife? What will he say?

The investigation into Jane Sanders’ deal for loan during her time at the Burlington College has reached new heights, as matters are set to be taken up before a grand jury. Sources have reported that up to a dozen boxes of records from Sanders time at the college have been taken into consideration. Moreover, a state official has also been called to testify in front of the grand jury; in order to identify as to whether Sanders had falsified a loan for the school, as it was going bankrupt and eventually shut down in May of 2016.

“A Vermont-based blog, VTDigger, reported last year that Jane Sanders inflated how much the small Vermont College had secured in donations, noting two instances in which a person said the amount of their financial pledge had been exaggerated on the school’s loan application,” highlights The Hill.

In the light of the case, it was noted that in her efforts to relocate the college to a new campus and to keep it up and running, Mrs. Sanders had mentioned at the time of taking out the loan that the college shall be receiving up to a million dollars in donation, which shall be put towards paying off the loans. However, lenders and trustees later discovered that the a good many of the donors had neither agreed on the set time for the donation and nor the amount of the donation, as listed on the documents presented by Mrs. Sanders at the time of taking out the loan.

At the time of obtaining the loan, Sanders presented records that “confirmed” $2.6 million in donation. And that the board based their decision on these records, “The board made the decision based on the information Jane provided,” said Adam Dantzscher, chairman of the board at time.

Charly Dickerson, a member of the board expressed that, “My gut was, this is biting off more than you can chew.” He added, “Their balance sheet was not all that strong.”

Bernie Sanders dismissed these allegations against his wife and continued to blame this as one of the Republican Party’s efforts to take him down.

“Right in the middle of my presidential campaign, I know this will shock the viewers, the vice chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, who happened to be Donald Trump’s campaign manager, raised this issue and initiated this investigation,” Bernie Sanders told CNN.

Moreover, it has been noted that the couple has hired a D.C. based law firm to handler this case.

A spokesperson for the couple stated, “While the Obama administration was in office, I don’t think anyone thought that these baseless allegations warranted hiring a lawyer.” And that, with Trump and [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions at the helm, that’s a very different situation,” he added.

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Healthcare Troubles
New boss, same as the old boss?

While hosting the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump responded to reporters’ questions about the Republican health care bill with a few short remarks. However, he did say that the health care bill will be a big surprise for everyone.

Talking to the group of baseball players who have just won the World Series, he asked, “Does anybody want to see the Oval Office?” the players laughed and replied affirmatively. Referring to the press, he said, “We’ll leave them behind.”

“And just to do a little official business,” Trump said to the reporters, “health care is working along very well.”

“We’re gonna have a big surprise with a great health care package,” he told them, “now they’re happy.”

“We’re gonna have a great, great surprise,” he said, as he walked away while reporters threw questions at him about the supposed surprise.

On Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced that he had come up with a break through idea with president; splitting up the bill so it can easily pass through Congress.

The Republicans’ health care bill narrowly passed the House of Representatives, however, the Senate then decided to draft their own all over again.

The way the bill is being drafted has been criticized from both sides. Conservative Republicans are of the opinion that the new bill is simply “Obamacare lite” as it doesn’t really repeal Obamacare, while Democrats say the bill can prove to be dangerous and will literally kill thousands of Americans.

According to Bette Midler, the bill is equal to Bashar Al Assad, the Syrian dictator, killing his own citizen with toxic sarin gas.

Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) also claimed that the House of Representatives’ version of the bill would go on to bring “death, pain, and suffering.”

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Bernie Sanders
"Do as I say, not as I do!"

On Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) appeared to have gotten quite agitated following a question by CNN’s Erin Burnett, regarding the FBI’s investigation of his wife’s role in possible fraud in a land deal that failed, when she was president of Burlington College.

“We understand your wife has hired a lawyer to represent her in a possible probe into a land deal that fell apart,” Burnett said. “This was back when she was president of Burlington College—”

“No, it was not when she was, oh,” Sanders interrupted, “let me say a word about that, you know.”

“I just want to ask you,” Burnett continued, “do you know if she’s under FBI investigation?”

“Excuse me,” Sanders interjected, “my wife is about the most honest person I know. When she came to that college, it was failing financially and academically. When she left it, it was in better shape than it had ever been.”

“Five years later, just at the moment, coincidentally no doubt, when I’m a candidate for president of the United States, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, a co-chair, vice chairman of the Republican Party in Vermont launched this investigation,” he continued.

“So all that I will tell you now, Erin, it is a sad state of affairs in America,” Sanders added, “not only when we have you know politicians being destroyed … when there are attacks against elected officials, when you’re going after your wife, people’s wives, that is pretty pathetic, and that’s where we are right now, and that’s about all that I’m going to say.”

“I do just want to understand though,” Burnett pressed, “at this time, do you have any knowledge as to whether she’s under FBI investigation?”

“That’s all that I want to say, and we’ll let it play out,” he responded. “But I think it’s fairly pathetic that when, you know, people are involved in public life, it’s not only that they get attacked, but it’s their wives and their families that they get attacked. That’s what this is about.”

The FBI is looking into a $10 million loan that Jane Sanders took to buy 33 acres of land for Burlington College. Investigating authorities believe Sanders likely overstated the financial position of the college to secure the loan. Hence, when the donations she had promised weren’t fulfilled, the institution defaulted.

Investigators are also looking into the possibility that Senator Bernie Sanders may have used his position in the government to influence the loan in any way.

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Healthcare Stalled
Since we have to rely on the GOP to fix this nation's Obama era policies, I guess that just means we are doomed...

Senate Republicans have asked for a delay in the vote on the Senate’s health care bill, till the lawmakers come back from their July 4 break.

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate Majority Leader, said that he has high hopes of “getting at least 50 people in a comfortable place,” regarding the bill.

“We’re going to continue the discussions within our conference on the differences that we have, that we’ll continue to try to litigate,” he told reporters after quite a lengthy discussion with Senate GOP conference.

When asked by a reporter if the delay simply meant the bill was dead, McConnell replied, “No, no.”

“This is a very complicated subject,” he said. “Legislation of this complexity almost always takes longer than anybody else would hope. But we’re going to press on. … We’re optimistic we’re going to get to a result that’s better than the status quo.”

McConnell also told reporters that Republicans have been invited to the White House to discuss their strategies moving on.

On the other hand, Democrats say that efforts to defeat Republicans’ moves to replace and repeal Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) are nowhere near over.

“The Republicans cannot excise the rotten core at the center of their health care bill, no matter what tweaks they may add in the next week and a half,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters. “If our Republican colleagues stick to this base bill … we’re going to fight the bill tooth and nail, and we have a darn good chance of defeating it – a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.”

The delay in voting came after Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah.) indicated that he would not approve to move ahead with the debate of the new bill. However, a spokesman for Lee has suggested that the lawmaker has not ruled out voting for the final version of the bill if certain changes are made.

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Stern Talk
So, you know what they say about the Trump Train - get on board, or get hit...

This Monday’s, on Fox News, Katrina Pierson gets badly slammed by Fox News host Neal Cavuto, in her efforts to accuse Heller of “governing as a Democrat.”

Pierson is amongst the group that is running ads against Sen. Dean Heller and was of the view that the group solely targeted Heller of his opposition to the President’s Healthcare plan.

“This is the one thing that particularly Republican primary voters care most about…” Katrina stated.

“Wait a minute Katrina,” Cavuto intervened, “He’s looking at something that isn’t markedly different than the one it replaces, he’s he’s just saying I think we can do better, right?”

“And we probably can do better,” she responded, “but here’s the thing…”

“You’re already threatening the guy,” he exclaimed, “saying ‘if you go ahead with this we’re gonna primary your ass,’”

“Obamacare is gone, one way or the other,” she retorted, “Republicans did not have a plan to put up at the very beginning, there is a plan now. This is a vote to move the process forward, this is not the actual plan that’s going to be in place, they’re making revisions as we speak.”

Cavuto responded, “but how can you do that under the threat of ‘we’re gonna primary you if you don’t go along with what we say’? That sounds like a bad Tony Soprano episode.”

“Well actually, it’s just an accountability issue,” Pierson argued.

“You won’t have accountability for all these others and you don’t,” Cavuto said, “You have accountability for him because he’s the most vulnerable. That’s not fair, that’s not right, and you know it.” He then went on to list five other senators that had claimed to not support the bill.

“It looks like you’re picking and choosing who you wanna screw here, and it looks like this guy is fair game!” Cavuto concluded. “And you either go along with us, or we’re going to primary you out, even if it means risking losing the Senate in the process. You oughta look at cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

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