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Senators Working the Ref Already on Health Care Bill
Parliamentarian rulings could make or break GOP legislation

Sen. Bill Cassidy is among the senators looking to make sure any health legislation or amendments will comply with the Senate’s procedural rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As House Republicans struggle to cobble together the votes to pass legislation to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, members are already looking to navigate the Senate’s labyrinth of procedural rules that could make or break the measure. 

Senate Democrats are already setting up for the battle with the parliamentarian about which provisions could run up against the Byrd Rule, which requires budget reconciliation bills that can pass with a simple-majority vote to be primarily about spending and revenues, without extraneous matter.

Opinion: Art as Soul Food – A Tough Yet Essential Case to Make
President Trump’s proposed budget cuts are ill-advised

Funding for humanities programs, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, is only a fraction of the federal budget and should not be cut, Curtis writes. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Most critics expressing outrage at President Donald Trump’s proposed budget have focused on cuts to the Community Development Block Grant program that funnels money to Meals on Wheels. And who can blame them? 

If you’re looking for allies for your cause, that’s the narrative you want — one that sets up clear-cut heroes and villains, especially with budget director Mick Mulvaney, sent from central casting and all but twirling a mustache as he says, “We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good,” or “There’s no demonstrable evidence” that after-school programs that also feed children are actually “helping kids do better at school.”

White House to Skeptical GOP Members on Health Bill: This Is It
President meets with various members, Republican and Democrat, over course of day

President Donald Trump still doesn't have the House votes to pass the GOP health plan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The White House intensified its game of chicken with Republican lawmakers over the party’s health care overhaul plan, saying there is no Plan B.

Even as one GOP lawmaker told Roll Call there likely are around 30 “no” votes among the Republican conference — more than enough to sink the legislation — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer warned members of his party “this is it.”

Conservatives Ask to Start Over on GOP Health Plan
Leadership-crafted legislation remains short of majority

From left, Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., looks on as Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, speaks with staff during the House Rules Committee meeting to formulate a rule on the American Health Care Act of 2017 on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

By Rema Rahman and Lindsey McPherson, CQ Roll Call

Conservatives are flexing their muscles in Congress as they get closer to securing the “no” votes that would sink the GOP leadership-crafted bill to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law.

Opinion: Are Republicans Storming the Castle or Walking the Plank on Health Care?
Upcoming health care vote could have consequences for 2018

Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, was singled out by President Donald Trump at Tuesday’s House GOP conference meeting for not yet voicing his support for the Republican health care plan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans are getting leaned on, hard, to vote for the GOP health care bill. First came the invitations to the White House Bowling Alley. Then the lunch dates. Still hunting for votes over the weekend, President Donald Trump flew members to Mar-a-Lago. But by Tuesday, with a floor vote looming, President Trump was naming names at the GOP caucus meeting. “Mark Meadows?” the president said, looking for the leader of the Freedom Caucus, who has still not said he’ll vote for the bill. “Stand up, Mark. … Mark, I’m going to come after you.”

The White House later said that the president was “just having fun” at the caucus meeting. But when a White House goes into full whip mode, which this White House obviously has, it’s time for the members on the sharp side of the whip to ask themselves whether they’re being asked to storm the castle or walk the plank. In other words, will their vote on health care this week help deliver a successful, necessary legislative victory, or are they being asked to support a bill that may not pass, may not work, or may cost them and their party their seats in two years’ time.

Appreciation | Jimmy Breslin and the Art of Describing Washington
Book by New York newspaperman is an invaluable portrayal of Capitol Hill

Jimmy Breslin found his muse in the late Massachusetts Democrat Tip O’Neill, above, whom he portrayed in his book “How the Good Guys Finally Won” as a consummate professional. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Jimmy Breslin will always be remembered as a New York newspaperman. But he also made an indelible contribution to documenting the Watergate scandal and in doing so, breathed life into some of Capitol Hill’s most influential characters. 

The hard-boiled columnist, who died March 19 at the age of 88, brought the full force of his observational skills to his 1975 book “How the Good Guys Finally Won.” Breslin made a career out of focusing on big stories through the perspective of working stiffs, so it’s no surprise he latched on to two methodical House Democrats who took on President Richard Nixon, fresh off a landslide 1972 re-election victory and whose team seemed to be brushing off the Watergate break-in.

Gorsuch Avoids Missteps at Supreme Court Hearing
“I have no difficulty ruling for or against any party”

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch testifies on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Hart Building, March 21, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch spent 11 hours Tuesday abstaining from giving personal opinions on controversial issues and reassuring critics that he isn’t beholden to President Donald Trump, generally avoiding the kind of major slip that could trip up his confirmation.

Gorsuch adopted a solemn tone at times and tried to add dashes of levity at others, as he fielded gentle Republican questions and fended off Democratic queries on abortion rights, campaign finance and his previous decisions on administrative law and workers rights.

Opinion: The Trump White House: A Modest Proposal
Forget Orwell. Jonathan Swift is more appropriate for this president

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, doesn't think much of Meals on Wheels . (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Big Brother does one thing well, it’s stay on message. Big Brother has a consistent voice. Big Brother would not allow the FBI director to testify before The House Intelligence Committee. Big Brother would not allow for broadcast of the hearing. Big Brother would cancel the hearing and air two minutes of hate. Big Brother does not exist. We are not living in “1984.”

Like a lot of Americans, I revisited “1984" after 20 years on the shelf. The most in-vogue dystopian novel is popular for obvious reasons. Orwell’s view isn’t even his most apt for these times (that would be “Animal Farm”). It may seem like we’re living in a time of Newspeak and never ending war, but we’re not headed to Oceania.

Gorsuch: I Would Have ‘No Difficulty’ Ruling Against Trump
Tells Grassley it was a ‘softball’ question

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch fist-bumps his nephew Jack on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch called it an easy question Tuesday when asked if he would have any trouble ruling against President Donald Trump, who nominated him to the high court.

“That’s a softball, Mr. Chairman,” Gorsuch responded to Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa. “I have no difficulty ruling for or against any party, other than what the law and the facts in a particular case require.”

Opinion: James Comey and the Art of the Shiv
FBI director has the credibility to oppose the White House

In his testimony Monday, James B. Comey dropped enough bombshells to solidify his reputation as the most significant FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover, Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Late in Monday’s marathon hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey reminded the nation that he was something of a hostile witness, reluctantly summoned to talk about Russia, Donald Trump and the 2016 campaign.

“I’d rather not be talking about this at all,” Comey said. “Now we are going to close our mouths and do our work.”