McConnell is rewriting his proposal to provide tens of billions more for opioid treatment and assistance to low- and moderate-income Americans, in part with a major policy shift that has already alarmed conservatives who oppose it: by potentially preserving a 3.8 percent tax on investment income provided under the Affordable Care Act that the current draft of the Senate bill would repeal.
At the same time, the Republican leader hopes to placate the right by further easing the existing law’s insurance mandates and providing higher tax deductions for the health-savings accounts that conservatives favor, several Republicans said.
By Thursday afternoon, Senate leaders had agreed to dedicate $45 billion to opioid funding, according to GOP aides — a concession that Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) had been seeking for weeks. The draft released last week included only $2 billion…
“We will, it appears to me, address the issue of ensuring that lower-income citizens are in a position to be able to buy plans that actually provide them appropriate health-care,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). “And with that, my sense is that the 3.8 percent repeal [in the current draft] will go away.”
In a sign of the sharp disagreements that continue to plague Senate Republicans, Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) disputed Corker’s notion that the tax cut would be jettisoned, calling the proposal a “very bad idea.”
With conservatives such as Toomey and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) objecting to this unthinkable notion of getting rid of the tax cut, however, the proposal still hangs in the balance.
* Indeed, Politico says a deal is nowhere in sight:
Senate Republicans skipped town on Thursday afternoon facing stiff internal opposition to their health care proposal and a Fourth of July recess in which critics will pummel their effort to repeal Obamacare.
Though the Senate whirred to life with deal-making between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his members, senators were dazed by the up-and-down week and nowhere near a plan that could get 50 votes. The GOP is planning to write new language to be analyzed by Friday, but were far from reaching a broad agreement as senators had hoped.
Meanwhile, conservative Senators are pushing additional deregulatory features that may not even pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian under the “reconciliation” process, another major hurdle.
* Adding to all the chaos, the CBO just released a longer-term analysis of the Senate health care bill showing that if they get their way Medicaid spending would drop relative to current law by 26 percent by 2026 and 35 percent by 2036.
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible links to Russia is now focused sharply on financial transactions involving the president’s associates — with the committee searching for improprieties in more than 2,000 documents it has received from the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit.
The Treasury Department turned over the documents to the committee a few days ago after protracted negotiations with the committee, the panel’s vice chairman, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, told Bloomberg — and only after Senate Democrats threatened to hold up a Treasury nominee until they received the information.
Separately, Warner told reporters that the committee is entering a higher profile phase where they plan to interview associates of President Donald Trump who have been mentioned in the press as having possible ties to Russians. Warner said he still expects Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior adviser, will keep his commitment to testify in front of the committee.
As I’ve argued before, Trump’s circle is full of shady characters with questionable financial dealings. I’d be shocked if by the end of this investigation at least a couple of them don’t wind up in the slammer.
* Gardiner Harris and Ron Nixon explain how the Trump Administration will be implementing its version of the travel ban:
Stepsiblings and half-siblings are allowed, but not nieces or nephews. Sons- and daughters-in-law are in, but brothers- and sisters-in-law are not. Parents, including in-laws, are considered “close family,” but grandparents are not.
The State Department issued new guidelines Wednesday night to American embassies and consulates on applying a limited travel ban against foreign visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries. Enforcement of the guidelines will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.
The guidelines followed the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to allow parts of the Trump administration’s revised travel ban to move forward, while also imposing certain limits, as the court prepares to hear arguments in October on the scope of presidential power over border security and immigration.
The court said the ban could not be imposed on anyone who had “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”
I feel so much more protected knowing that no terrorist grandparents will be allowed in.
* Neera Tanden and Topher Spiro offer a simple plan to stabilize the individual markets that Republicans could easily support.
* Charles Blow examines President Trump’s obsession with Barack Obama.