entitlements

Large employers question ‘Medicare for All’ plans, survey shows
Business group poll shows concerns about costs, taxes still loom large

National Nurses United union members wave “Medicare for All” signs during a rally in Washington on April 29. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Most large employers say a “Medicare for All” system would lower the number of uninsured people in the United States, but they are concerned it could increase health care costs and taxes while stifling innovation and quality, a new survey shows.

The concerns come as health industry groups seek to block momentum for plans from Democratic presidential candidates and lawmakers to expand Medicare through a single-payer program or to allow people under age 65 to enroll in the program.

Senate bill aims to protect taxpayers from costly drugs
Seeks to help Medicare control costs so premiums can remain stable

One proposed change to Medicare prescription drug benefit is to help the program control costs it absorbs to keep premiums stable. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress this year could enact the biggest overhaul of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit since it was first established in 2003. If successful, seniors — and taxpayers — would be more insulated against the cost of the most expensive drugs. 

One proposed change is meant to help Medicare control the costs it absorbs so that the program’s premiums can remain stable despite increasing drug prices. Supporters of the drug program tout its low premiums, with the Trump administration and the private insurers who run Part D recently highlighting that average consumer premiums will fall in 2020.

‘Public charge’ rule creates Homeland spending bill headache
Amendment blocks proposed rules on immigrant access to Medicaid and food stamps

Rep. David Price, D-N.C., offered an amendment that would block the Department of Homeland Security's proposed "public charge" rule from going into effect. (File photo by Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

An amendment inserted into the House's fiscal 2020 Homeland Security spending bill by Appropriations Committee Democrats during the panel's June markup would bust the subcommittee's allocation by nearly $3.1 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Adopted on a 28-21 vote, the amendment from Reps. David E. Price of North Carolina, Pete Aguilar and Barbara Lee of California, and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin would block a number of Trump administration immigration policies, including protecting beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from deportation and revoking Trump's travel ban against predominantly Muslim countries.

USDA seeks to narrow eligibility for food stamps
Proposal looks to tighten eligibility for people who receive noncash benefits

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the draft rule will close a loophole that allows people with gross incomes above 130 percent of the poverty level to become eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and potentially qualify for food stamps. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration will push ahead with a proposal to tighten food stamp eligibility for people who receive certain noncash benefits from a federal welfare program, a move that could end aid for up to 3 million people.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the draft rule published in Tuesday’s Federal Register will end what he and congressional Republicans say is a loophole that allows people with gross incomes above 130 percent of the poverty level to become eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and potentially qualify for food stamps through the program.

White House offers up extensive menu of cuts for spending caps deal
The administration wants at least $150 billion in savings

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading the talks for her side of the aisle. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration has laid out a wide array of spending cuts and tweaks to mandatory programs for Democratic leaders to consider for inclusion in a two-year discretionary caps and debt limit package.

The White House offsets menu includes $574 billion culled from items in President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget request, according to a source familiar with the proposal. In addition, there’s $516 billion in “structural reforms” obtained by extending current discretionary spending limits by another two years, through fiscal 2023.

Mnuchin says there is a topline agreement on spending caps and debt limit
Treasury secretary says talks continue on offsets and structure of a deal

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the White House, Senate and House have an agreement on a two-year debt ceiling increase. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that agreement has been reached on spending levels for fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2021 as well as a two-year extension of the debt limit.

“The good news is we’ve reached an agreement between the administration, the House and the Senate on topline numbers for both year one and year two. We’re now discussing offsets as well as certain structural issues. And we’ve agreed as part of that deal there would be a long-term, two-year debt ceiling increase,” Mnuchin said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “So, I think, all of our first choice is to reach an overall agreement and we’re working hard to do that. But if for whatever reason we don’t get there in time, I am encouraging a debt ceiling increase.”

Pricey pension rescue headed to House floor next week
Bill would provide financial lifelines to union pension plans

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., confirmed the pensions bill is ready for a floor vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats will bring a $64.4 billion measure that would provide financial lifelines to union pension plans to the floor next week.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, the bill’s author, on Tuesday confirmed the schedule for the legislation, which has gone through the Ways and Means as well as Education and Labor panels.

Senate appropriations markups likely off until September
Congressional leaders and Trump administration have to agree on spending caps in next few weeks

Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., is holding off on assembling the fiscal 2020 spending bills (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee likely won’t mark up any of its fiscal 2020 spending bills before leaving town for the August recess — the first time in more than three decades the panel hasn’t debated any of the annual spending bills before the customary summer break.

The decision to hold back Senate appropriations bills in the absence of a spending caps agreement has set a markedly different pace for the committee than last year, when it sent all 12 of its bills to the floor before the break began.

Congress returns to pressure to get spending deals done
Key to budget deal is agreement between Pelosi and Trump, GOP senator says

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby had hoped to start marking up fiscal 2020 spending bills after the July Fourth recess, but that looks unlikely now. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With only a month to go before the August recess and three months until the end of the fiscal year, House leaders will not bring the two remaining fiscal 2020 appropriations bills — Homeland Security and Legislative Branch — to the floor due to divisions within the Democratic caucus over those bills and diminishing floor time.

Some Democrats are opposed to an inflation adjustment to lawmaker salaries, as allowed in the Legislative Branch bill. Other Democrats are opposed to immigration and border funding provisions in the Homeland Security bill.

Democrats want to eliminate corporate tax cut but their tax measure avoids it
Democrats have plans for spending money raising corporate rate would bring in, but they’ll go nowhere as long as Trump is in the Oval Office

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., has not included eliminating the corporate tax cut in current moving legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There’s no lack of plans from Democrats paid for by undoing at least part of the huge 2017 corporate tax rate cut. But the only Democrat with a tax bill currently moving through Congress is pointedly not talking about revisiting the lower 21 percent rate.

The 14 percentage point rate cut in the 2017 law, which is permanent, was projected to save corporations $1.35 trillion over its first 10 years.