Health Care Amendments Expected To Be Added to Transportation Bill
Despite Democrats' objections, Senate Republicans still are working to push through a transportation bill (HR 22) that is expected to include several health-related amendments before the August recess, Politico reports.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) has called on senators offering amendments to the bill to be mindful not to make them too controversial so the Senate can pass the transportation bill before members leave for August recess. He said, "There are going to be a lot of non-germane amendments that get offered," which could "probably trigger objections" from lawmakers and "could shut the place down."
Despite that warning, the expected amendments include:
- A proposal from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would target the Affordable Care Act; and
- A measure from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that would defund Planned Parenthood (Caygle, Politico, 7/21).
Cruz and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) are seeking to end a policy that allows members of Congress and their staff to receive federal contributions to help purchase coverage through Washington, D.C.'s small-business exchange. Vitter has said Congress does not fit the definition of a small business under Washington, D.C., law. Further, employers do not contribute to premium payments for regular U.S. residents who purchase plans through ACA exchanges. However, other lawmakers have said the contribution is equal to the employer contributions for typical U.S. workers (Howell, Washington Times, 7/20)
Meanwhile, Cruz's office on Tuesday said the senator also likely will file an amendment seeking to repeal the ACA entirely (Ferris, The Hill, 7/21).
Separately, Paul said he would "do what [h]e can" to "try" to attach an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood.
The Senate likely will take up the bill on Wednesday, according to Politico. The measure will have to get past a procedural vote to move forward for consideration. If the bill does advance, senators will then be able to offer amendments to the measure. According to Politico, Cruz said he would use the amendments to try to delay passage of the transportation bill.
However, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who is the lead Democratic negotiator on the bill, said while she would not try to block members from offering amendments to defund Planned Parenthood, they likely would fail. She called the effort "a nonstarter," adding, "I can't believe that [Republicans would] put an abortion issue on a highway bill" (Everett, Politico, 7/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.