November 20, 2013
INFOGRAPHIC: More than 4.7 Million Health Insurance Cancellations in 32 States
Obama’s Fake Fixes, Special Deals, and Delays: Under extreme political pressure from his own party, President Obama reluctantly stepped into the White House briefing room last week to address the millions of Americans who lost their insurance plan due to the Democrats’ health care law. The President announced the Department of Health and Human Services will use its dubious administrative “enforcement discretion” to “fix” Obamacare by allowing some people buying health insurance in the individual market to keep their current plans.
Policy by the Numbers: Healthcare.gov launched seven weeks ago, and going into this week the White House says there are still 50 priority fixes needed for the website. Now the White House has lowered expectations on the “vast majority of users,” saying “roughly 2-in-10 won’t get through the system.”
Obama Administration Rigs the Market Against Coal: The Obama Administration seeks to set unattainable carbon emissions standards to ensure that no new coal-fired power plants are built in America. The Administration has been writing rules that create new market conditions to discourage coal use. Then, trying to shield itself from criticism, it cites the new market conditions as justification for additional rules. And it cooks the books of the rules’ cost-benefit analysis by including a fabricated “social cost of carbon.” Removing new coal-fired generating capacity from America’s energy mix will destroy good jobs, raise the cost of everyday living, and create little environmental benefit.
Leader McConnell’s Opening Remarks
Obamacare: Predictions Coming True: “Then bargaining, proposing nips and tucks to a law that needs an overhaul instead. But for the sake of our country, let’s hope they just speed right along to acceptance – the acceptance that Obamacare can’t work and won’t work. And that their constituents deserve better. When they do, Republicans will be right here – just as we always have been – ready to work with them to start over with real reforms that decrease costs and improve access to care.”
GOP Committee News
Finance: Hatch on Chairman Baucus’ Release of Tax Reform Discussion Drafts: “Unfortunately, the bipartisan desire to overhaul our tax code has become mired in the partisan desire by some to raise taxes under the guise of so-called tax reform in the budget conference negotiations. After discussions with my Republican colleagues on the Finance Committee, I told Chairman Baucus that we would prefer to hold off on releasing any discussion drafts until after the budget conference concludes in order to ensure that tax reform doesn’t become a victim of this partisanship”
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: GOP Senators Introduce Bill to Prevent Special Union Exemption From ObamaCare Reinsurance Tax: Following media reports that the Obama administration is once again trying to find a way to exempt unions from ObamaCare’s numerous taxes and mandates, U.S. Senators Hatch, Thune, Alexander and eight of their Republican colleagues today introduced the Union Tax Fairness Act (S. 1724), a bill to prevent union health care plans, known as Taft-Hartley plans, from being exempted from the ObamaCare reinsurance tax.
Foreign Relations: Corker Statement Following White House Meeting on Iran Negotiations: “Democrats have procedurally blocked the Senate from taking any action on Iran this week. As such, we will closely monitor what happens in Geneva and examine the details of any interim deal. After leaving the meeting at the White House today, I am still concerned we will trade away our leverage without ever forcing Iran to fully comply with its existing international obligations.”
Budget: Sessions Asks Obamaphone Fund Managers For Info On Program Costs, Expenses: Sen. Sessions released a letter that he sent to the acting chief executive officer of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), which is the organization responsible for managing the Universal Service Fund used to pay for programs such as Obamaphones. An identical letter was also sent to the chairman of USAC’s board, Dr. Brian Talbott.
McClatchy DC: Obama Tries to Ward Off New Sanctions Against Iran: With talks set to resume over Iran’s nuclear program, President Barack Obama worked to build support at home Tuesday for negotiations and to ward off any move instead for new sanctions.
Bloomberg: Reid Weighs Senate Rules Change After Nominees Blocked: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he’s weighing a change to the chamber’s rules on handling nominations after Republicans blocked three of President Barack Obama’s choices for a federal appeals court in the past month.
Politico: Harry Reid Between Affordable Care Act and Vulnerable Democrats: In the end, one man will control whether the Senate attempts to fix Obamacare after its messy debut: Harry Reid. But the Senate majority leader isn’t ready to act just yet.
Key House Action
Today, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and noon for legislative business. First votes expected: 1:45 - 3:15 p.m. Last votes expected: 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Speaker Boehner: House Intelligence Committee Provides Update on Benghazi Investigation: House Republicans continue to conduct aggressive oversight on the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya that took the lives of four Americans. The House Intelligence Committee has helped lead the GOP’s efforts to press the Obama administration for answers, conducting dozens of hearings and interviews about the attack and reviewing thousands of pages of documents.
New Polling Numbers
Gallup: Experiences of Uninsured With Exchanges Mostly Negative: Uninsured Americans who have visited a federal or state health insurance exchange website generally have been unhappy with their experience. Sixty-three percent of those who have visited say their experience using the health exchange was negative, including 30% who say it was "very negative." About a third, 34% say their experience was positive, with 5% rating it as "very positive."
CBS News: Poll: Obamacare Support, Obama Approval Sink to New Lows: Now, approval of the law has dropped to 31 percent - the lowest number yet recorded in CBS News Polls, and a drop of 12 points since last month. Sixty-one percent disapprove (a high for this poll), including 46 percent who say they disapprove strongly.
Politico: Tech chief: Up to 40% of Obamacare Work Left: A key player in the Obamacare website’s creation acknowledged Tuesday that up to 40 percent of IT systems supporting the exchange still need to be built.
Reuters: Some Cyber Security Experts Recommend Shutting Obamacare Site: President Barack Obama's HealthCare.gov site is riddled with security flaws that put user data of millions of people at risk and it should be shut down until fixed, several technology experts warned lawmakers on Tuesday.
The Hill: Eighth Senate Dem Backs O-Care Fix: Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) on Tuesday became the latest Senate Democrat to back a legislative fix to ObamaCare that would let people keep their health insurance plan if they like it.
News Observer: Blue Cross NC to Raise Rates Up to 24 Percent on Reinstated Health Plans: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said Tuesday that it will raise rates as much as 24 percent on 2013 individual health insurance plans that are being extended next year.
Wall Street Journal: McConnell: Stand Firm on Spending: With budget negotiations stalled, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing his GOP colleagues to resist efforts to ease across-the-board spending cuts due to take effect in mid-January.
Politico: Max Baucus Starts Tax Debate with Draft Proposals: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus on Tuesday issued long-awaited proposals to revamp how multinational companies are taxed on foreign profits, igniting a fiery debate with Republicans and the corporations that could be losers under a changed system.
@KellyAyotte: Bad news for woman cited as Obamacare success story – CNN Political Ticker - http://CNN.com Blogs http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/19/bad-news-for-woman-cited-as-obamacare-success-story/ …
Floor Schedule for Wednesday, November 20
Today, the Senate will the convene at 9:30 a.m., following the Leaders’ remarks, the Senate will be in Morning Business for debate only for one hour, with the first half under Majority control and the second half under Republican control and Senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each.
Thereafter, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 1197, the Defense Authorization bill. There will be up to six hours of debate on the issue of military sexual assault, with three hours under the control of Senator Gillibrand, Senators McCaskill and Ayotte or their designees each controlling 75 minutes, Senator Inhofe or his designee controlling 20 minutes, and Senator Levin or his designee controlling 10 minutes.
The amendment tree is filled.
Roll call votes are possible today.