Medicaid

Opinion: Fiscal Order Goes Way of the Dinosaur in Tax Debate
Latest actions show Congress isn’t serious about debt and deficits

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks at a press conference Thursday on small-business taxes. Pay-as-you-go requirements do not apply to the current tax reconciliation bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There was a time when members of Congress expressed concerns over the country’s level of debt and deficits. Laws were enacted to create speed bumps and stop signs to establish fiscal discipline. That now seems like a distant memory. Exhibit A is the current tax reform effort.

The permanent pay-as-you-go law is in effect, as is the Senate’s pay-as-you-go rule. The requirement that increased federal spending or tax cuts be matched by reduced spending or revenue increases to avoid expanding the budget deficit dates to the Reagan administration.

Collins: Republican Leaders Expected to Back ‘Pay-Go’ Waiver
Maine Republican also raised concerns over SALT deduction

Maine Sen. Susan Collins wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over her concerns with the GOP tax plan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Susan Collins said Republican leaders have assured her that automatic cuts to entitlement programs that would be triggered if the GOP tax overhaul becomes law would be stopped.

The reductions, which could amount to $25 billion in cuts to Medicare, would occur under the 2010 statutory pay-as-you-go law unless Congress approves a waiver.

Opinion: Ensuring We All Count
If we don’t act fast, many people will be uncounted in 2020 census

From left, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves, acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in December 2010 at an event announcing the U.S. population. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution, they knew that for our country to be the true democratic republic they envisioned, it must reflect the ever-changing makeup of its people.

To meet this need, they enshrined, in Article I, Section 2, the decennial census. This exercise stands alone as the only constitutionally mandated task of the federal government, required by the framers to be renewed every ten years, to make sure each and every person living in the United States is counted.

HHS Pick Grilled on Drug Prices
Azar pledges to lower cost of prescriptions, but Paul has “doubts”

Alex Azar, nominee to be Health and Human Services secretary, takes a seat for his hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The nominee to lead the Health and Human Services Department, Alex M. Azar, told a Senate panel that his top priority would be addressing the high price of prescription drugs. But there was skepticism from both sides of the dais at Wednesday’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing that Azar, a former pharmaceutical company executive, would live up to that promise.

While it was mostly Democrats who took aim at Azar’s tenure working for and running the U.S. affiliate of Eli Lilly & Co., Sen. Rand Paul said he would also need to be convinced. The Kentucky Republican pressed Azar on whether he would work on a system to safely import lower-cost prescription drugs from places with comparable systems, like Canada and Europe.

Trump Tax Taunts Don’t Trouble Red-State Democrats
McCaskill outspoken in criticism of Senate GOP measure

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill speaks Tuesday during the Senate Democrats news conference on taxes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Moderate Senate Democrats — many of them on the ballot in 2018 — came together with a unified message Tuesday morning, just before President Donald Trump arrived at the Capitol to meet with the Republican Conference.

Sen. Tim Kaine was perhaps the most direct. The Virginia Democrat said at the news conference that the GOP should make a run at a bipartisan product before bringing to the floor a tax reconciliation bill that would only require a simple majority to pass.

An Old Saw’s New Twist: Death (of the Deficit Hawks) and Taxes
A few Republicans clinging to old party orthodoxy could doom Trump’s big win

Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney has said “a lot of this is a gimmick,” referring to the tax bill’s expiration dates for some of the lower rates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

This apparent contradiction confronts Congress as it returns for a grueling month of legislating: The Republicans who run the Capitol, so many of whom came to Washington as avatars of fiscal responsibility, are going to spend the rest of the year working to make a worsening federal balance sheet look even worse.

December holds the potential for a productivity breakthrough, but it also threatens to end in embarrassing deadlock — which is why the clear consensus within the upper reaches of the congressional GOP is that it’s the right time to get comfortable with any feelings of hypocritical guilt.

States Face Children’s Health Coverage Uncertainty
Federal funding could soon run out

Oregon governor Kate Brown recently wrote to her state’s two Democratic senators warning that federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program will  run out in December. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

About two months after federal funding lapsed for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, state officials still don’t know exactly when they’ll run out of money or when Congress will renew funding — leaving families that depend on the program increasingly anxious about their benefits.

At least a few states say that they could exhaust funds as soon as next month. States are growing more concerned about the program with just a few days left on the congressional calendar until December and no signs that lawmakers plan in the immediate future to renew funding. 

New $44 Billion Disaster Aid Request Paltry, Lawmakers Say
Extensive offsets could also prove controversial

Rep. John Culberson of Texas said the White House’s most recent aid request “would sabotage what has been an incredible response by President Trump to Hurricane Harvey up to this point.” (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In its third emergency aid request since August, the White House on Friday asked Congress to approve $44 billion for ongoing hurricane recovery efforts, a figure seen as insufficient on both sides of the aisle. 

At the same time, the White House asked lawmakers to consider a lengthy list of offsets, noting in a letter that the administration “believes it is prudent to offset new spending.”

HHS Pick at Odds With Trump’s Rhetoric on Drug Prices
Alex Azar previously led Eli Lilly’s U.S. operations

Alex Azar is President Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary. (Screenshot/Veeva Systems/YouTube)

President Donald Trump’s tweet Monday announcing former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar as his choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services boasted that Azar “will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!”

But Azar, who led drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co.’s United States operations from 2012 until earlier this year, has contributed significantly to the pharmaceutical industry political spending that the president has decried.

Trump to Nominate New HHS Secretary Alex Azar
Former pharmaceutical president vocal Obamacare opponent

Tom Price (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Trump announced on Twitter he plans to nominate Alex Azar to be the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Azar will be “a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices,” Trump wrote in his tweet announcing the coming nomination.