Posts Tagged ‘Mitch McConnell’

Republicans Aren’t Team Players

July 17, 2017

GOP Senators who defect from ObamaCare repeal will hurt themselves, their party and the country.

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July 16, 2017 2:17 p.m. ET

Politics is a team sport, and Republicans are playing it poorly. They have one more chance in the Senate to repeal and replace ObamaCare—possibly their last hope for a victory.

Democrats are performing like a well-coached team. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has all 48 members of his caucus on board with saving ObamaCare at all cost. It’s been a successful strategy.

It works for one reason: Republicans are divided. Their 52-48 majority in the Senate means they can lose two votes and still prevail, since Vice President Mike Pence is the tiebreaker. After promising to get rid of ObamaCare for the past seven years, it shouldn’t be difficult.

But as many as eight Republican senators opposed the first GOP bill, forcing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to come up with a revised version. While an improvement, it has encountered opposition too. Mr. McConnell is skillful in bringing senators together. But here his task is more difficult than usual because the dissidents don’t all agree on what’s wrong with the bill. Appeasing one senator may alienate another.

This is an example of why legislative success depends on operating as a team. You don’t abandon your team just because you don’t get everything you want (or want left out). You hold your nose and vote for an imperfect measure, sometimes merely because it’s politically beneficial and better than the alternative.

This is especially true in dumping ObamaCare. The Republican alternative is a more free-market health-care system in which people can buy the insurance they want, not what government requires.

Sticking with the team makes that possible. But too many Republicans aren’t comfortable as team players. To them, it’s shady and unprincipled to vote for something about which you have serious doubts. Democrats are more realistic and less persnickety, so they’re better at uniting.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/republicans-arent-team-players-1500229048

Senator John McCain’s surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye ‘may be more serious than he admitted’ and it could require weeks of recovery

July 17, 2017

  • Arizona Senator John McCain’s surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye may be more serious than he is letting on 
  • The Republican lawmaker announced on Saturday that he would spend this coming week recuperating in Arizona
  • Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s office issued a statement announcing that he would ‘defer’ a vote on the health care legislation 
  • The statement put out by McCain seemed to imply that it would take him a week before he could return to work 
  • Medical experts said, however, that it could take at least two weeks, perhaps more, for McCain to recover given the nature of the procedure
US Senator John McCain will remain in Arizona next week to recuperate from a medical procedure that removed a 2-inch blood clot above his left eye

US Senator John McCain will remain in Arizona next week to recuperate from a medical procedure that removed a 2-inch blood clot above his left eye.

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Arizona Senator John McCain’s surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye may be more serious than he is letting on, medical experts said on Sunday.

The Republican lawmaker announced on Saturday that he would spend this coming week recuperating in Arizona.

McCain’s office announced that the senator underwent a procedure Friday to remove the blood clot at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix.

The senator’s office was not immediately available to comment on when he would return to Washington.

Soon after news of McCain’s surgery broke, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s office issued a statement announcing that he would ‘defer’ a vote on the health care legislation.

McCain’s absence gave McConnell little choice, with Republicans so divided that the subtraction of a single ‘yes’ vote could doom the healthcare bill.

The statement put out by McCain seemed to imply that it would take him a week before he could return to work.

'Thanks to @MayoClinic for its excellent care - I appreciate your support & look forward to getting back to work!,' McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a tweet late on Saturday

‘Thanks to @MayoClinic for its excellent care – I appreciate your support & look forward to getting back to work!,’ McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a tweet late on Saturday

Medical experts interviewed by The New York Times said, however, that it could take at least two weeks, perhaps more, for McCain to recover given the nature of the procedure.

McCain’s office released a statement saying that doctors took out a two-inch blood clot from ‘above his left eye’ in what was a ‘minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision.’

The operation was ordered ‘following a routine annual physical.’

A craniotomy is the removal of a part of the bone that makes up the skull.

McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, also thanked the Mayo Clinic. 'Thank you to the incredible team at the Mayo Clinic Arizona for taking such good care of my father,' the Fox News personality tweeted. 'He will be back soon'

McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, also thanked the Mayo Clinic. ‘Thank you to the incredible team at the Mayo Clinic Arizona for taking such good care of my father,’ the Fox News personality tweeted. ‘He will be back soon’

The senator's colleagues also took to social media to wish him well. 'Praying for a speedy recovery for my friend,' tweeted Senator Charles Schumer, the Senate minority leader

The senator’s colleagues also took to social media to wish him well. ‘Praying for a speedy recovery for my friend,’ tweeted Senator Charles Schumer, the Senate minority leader

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren posted a photo of the two together at what appears to be an air base overseas. 'John is one of the toughest fighters I know,' the senator tweeted. 'I'm sure he'll make a speedy recovery'

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren posted a photo of the two together at what appears to be an air base overseas. ‘John is one of the toughest fighters I know,’ the senator tweeted. ‘I’m sure he’ll make a speedy recovery’

David Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama, also wished McCain well

David Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama, also wished McCain well

Medical experts say that an eyebrow incision is needed if the surgeon needs to reach a clot that is either in or near the left frontal lobes of the brain.

‘Usually, a blood clot in this area would be a very concerning issue,’ said Dr. Nrupen Baxi, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

‘The recovery time from a craniotomy is usually a few weeks,’ he said.

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic said they would provide more information in the coming days once they see results of tissue pathology reports.

Last month, McCain left observers baffled when he fired off a series of seemingly incoherent questions at former FBI Director James Comey during his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The senator acknowledged the bizarre questions the next day, joking that he shouldn’t stay up late to watch baseball games.

But the episode seemed to bring renewed focus on McCain’s age – he turns 81 next month – and mental status.

‘Usually, a blood clot like this is discovered when patients have symptoms, whether it’s a seizure or headaches or weakness or speech difficulties,’ Dr. Baxi said.

Last month, McCain (seen above on July 11, 2017) left observers baffled when he fired off a series of seemingly incoherent questions at former FBI Director James Comey during his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee

Last month, McCain (seen above on July 11, 2017) left observers baffled when he fired off a series of seemingly incoherent questions at former FBI Director James Comey during his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee

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‘Generally, it’s not found on a routine physical because doctors would not know to look for it.’

McCain’s doctors have not said what caused the clot, but experts say the range of possibilities include a fall, a blow to the head, a stroke, or changes to the brain that are inherent with aging.

Another possibility could be related to McCain’s history of melanoma, an aggressive skin cancer that could spread to the brain and cause bleeding.

Medical experts say the clot could have been removed from a number of areas: between the skull and the dura, the membrane that covers the brain; between the dura and surface of the brain; or inside the brain itself.

A best-case scenario for McCain, according to one doctor, is a subdural hematoma – a collection of blood between the dura and the brain.

‘You would hope it’s a subdural, a relatively benign process,’ said Dr. David J. Langer of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

‘It’s common in the elderly, especially if they’re on blood thinners. It can occur from relatively minor head injuries. The elderly brain loses volume, and as it retracts, the bridging veins from the brain to the dura are under increasing tension, and minor trauma can cause them to ooze or leak.’

These kinds of operations are elective procedures and not emergencies.

Once the clot is removed, the piece of skull that was taken out if put back in place and fastened with titanium plates.

‘He would be able to return to being a senator in a relatively short period of time with no ill effects,’ Dr. Langer said.

‘This is an assumption. But it sounds like something not life-threatening or even a career-threatening problem.’

Dr. Philip Stieg, a brain surgeon at Weill Cornell Medicine, said the fact that McCain was released from the hospital quickly is a good sign.

‘I think the one possibility that’s of concern is that melanomas are known to go to the brain and they can bleed,’ Dr. Stieg said.

‘They’ll have to wait for the pathology to come back. The good news is that five centimeters is a sizable blood clot, but in the frontal lobe, it should be well tolerated and hopefully he won’t have any neurologic deficits.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4702448/McCain-s-surgery-admitted.html#ixzz4n4pr2sbx
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Senate Healthcare Bill — Unexpected McCain surgery delay gives more time for criticism — “The Votes Aren’t There”

July 17, 2017

Delay in long-promised vote after unexpected McCain surgery

(Reuters)

A Republican push to pass a sweeping health-care law experienced another setback as Senate leaders said they would delay a vote set for this week, sparking fresh doubts about whether congressional leaders can muster support for a marquee GOP policy priority.

Updated July 16, 2017 7:05 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump and party leaders in Congress were hoping the Senate would vote this week on a plan to overturn parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act and make other changes to the health system. But Senate leaders announced a delay after Sen. John McCain said he would recover in Arizona from surgery removing a blood clot above his left eye, leaving supporters short of the votes needed to move ahead with the bill.

The delay prolongs the uncertainty over the bill’s prospects. GOP leaders have pursued a fast-paced timeline, as health-policy changes are often controversial. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of Senate GOP leadership, told reporters last month that passing the bill is “not going to get any easier” with time. Another GOP senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said the bill “is not like fine wine; it doesn’t get better with age.”

Meantime, insurance companies, state governors and congressional critics continued to line up against the bill, with their objections running the ideological gamut. Governors, including some Republicans, have said they are concerned about its proposed cuts to the growth of Medicaid spending, while two top insurance industry groups objected to a change to the GOP bill proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas as “unworkable.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who can’t afford more than two defections among the 52 GOP senators, has been balancing demands by more-centrist lawmakers for additional money for Medicaid and consumer subsidies with a push by conservatives to pare back requirements on insurers in order to lower premiums for younger, healthier people.

One centrist and one conservative GOP senator who have bucked their party before, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, have said they can’t support the bill, for different reasons. But others have yet to commit, and one more defection would derail the legislation. Mr. McCain’s absence means GOP leaders are short of the votes this week for a procedural motion to consider the bill.

Ms. Collins, speaking on Sunday on ABC, said that eight to 10 Republicans had “deep concerns” about the bill, even after a new version was unveiled last week to address issues raised by some GOP senators. “I think it would be extremely close,” she said when asked whether Mr. McConnell had the votes for passage.

Senate GOP leaders, spurred on by the White House, had been building toward a deadline of this week that had been intended to isolate and spotlight holdouts, warning them that they would pay a price for bucking their party and undermining its collective legislative goal of the past seven years. They have emphasized insurance-market woes under the ACA in some states as proof of the urgency of the cause.

Mr. McConnell had hoped to finish the health debate this week so the Senate could turn to the annual defense-policy bill, confirmation of more of Mr. Trump’s nominees and raising the debt limit before adjourning in mid-August.

The McCain absence gives Mr. McConnell and the White House a chance to continue working on holdout senators without having to back down from a vote this week. But it also creates a window for the 2010 health law’s supporters to continue a fight they believe is more likely to be successful the longer they wage it.

“A key factor is time: The longer the bill languishes, the less likely it will pass,” said Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at Horizon Investments. “And there won’t be much time left after Labor Day, as Congress shifts its focus to budget and tax issues. So, while McCain’s absence complicates the health debate, it already was in deep trouble, even when he was healthy.”

Prime targets for both sides are the remaining senators who had opposed an earlier version of the Senate bill but haven’t taken a public stance on its latest iteration. Sen. Dean Heller (R., Nev.), up for re-election next year, is likely under the most pressure, due in part to concerns about the bill from the GOP governor of his state. Other Republicans from states that expanded Medicaid, including Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, will be in the limelight this week.

The extra time also allows for more scrutiny of a measure from Mr. Cruz that would allow insurers to offer cheaper plans with less comprehensive coverage than required under the ACA, if they also offer plans that meet ACA coverage requirements. The proposal has alarmed insurers and centrist Republicans who say it would cause premiums to surge for sicker people, who would more likely buy more-comprehensive plans without the costs being offset by policies that younger and healthier people buy.

Senate leaders said they are confident they could hold the procedural vote to advance the bill as soon as Mr. McCain was back in the Senate. The White House declined to comment at length on the setback Sunday. “We wish Sen. McCain a speedy recovery,” said spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferré.

The Trump administration has previously said a quick timeline on a health vote was best, particularly as Democrats and liberal organizers have stepped up their advocacy of preserving the ACA, which they see as former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

“The left, I think, has been more organized in their messaging on this than collectively Republicans have as far as advocating for the benefits of the bill,” said Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, last week.

The difficulty for many Republicans is that supporting the bill or opposing it both carry political risk. On the one hand, the party has for years vowed a full repeal of the ACA, known as Obamacare. “I think not being able to deliver on that promise would do serious and long-lasting damage to the credibility of Republicans,” Mr. Cruz said in an interview.

Others are weighing the fallout over health policy and how its changes would affect some states, particularly rural ones. “This bill would make sweeping and deep cuts to the Medicaid program….It would also jeopardize the very existence of our rural hospitals and our nursing homes,” Ms. Collins said on ABC. Conservative lawmakers say the financing for Medicaid as now configured is unsustainable.

Rep. Mark Amodei, a Republican representing a competitive district in Nevada, opposed an early draft of the House health bill but voted for the final version in May. He said that ultimately, he would expect GOP voters to be frustrated if Congress doesn’t repeal the ACA, or large swaths of it, but he recognizes the political peril either way.

“If somebody’s looking for safe harbor and no hard votes, this is going to be an awful year for them, because I think it’s going to be hard vote after hard vote after hard vote,” he said.

Jennifer Levitz contributed to this article

Write to Byron Tau at byron.tau@wsj.com, Louise Radnofsky at louise.radnofsky@wsj.com and Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-push-to-pass-health-care-law-faces-new-setback-1500219899

Mitch McConnell delays Senate recess to allow more time to pass healthcare bill

July 12, 2017

The Senate Majority Leader is still struggling to get the votes he needs to pass the measure that would overhaul Obamacare

By Alexandra Wilts Washington DC

The Independent 

Facing increasing pressure to quickly pass a healthcare bill, Senate Majority Leader McConnell has delayed the start of the Senate’s August recess by two weeks.

“In order to provide more time to complete action on important legislative items and process nominees that have been stalled by a lack of cooperation from our friends across the aisle, the Senate will delay the start of the August recess until the third week of August,” Mr McConnell announced in a statement.

While Republicans continue to primarily focus on passing legislation that will repeal and replace Obamacare, they still aim to take up tax reform and other legislative items by the end of the year.

“Once the Senate completes its work on health care reform, we will turn to other important issues including the National Defense Authorization Act and the backlog of critical nominations that have been mindlessly stalled by Democrats,” Mr McConnell said.

With Republican legislators’ overlapping concerns and competing interests, Mr McConnell has struggled to win support for the Senate healthcare measure. Moderate senators worry that millions of people would lose their insurance following cuts to Medicaid – a healthcare programme for the poor – while conservatives assert that the bill does not do enough to erase Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic legislation.

Conservative Senator Mike Lee told reporters again on Tuesday that he could not support the first iteration of the bill that was released last month, but that there are changes that could be made to get him to vote ‘yes’.

Mr Lee and Senator Ted Cruz, another conservative, have been pushing hard for the adoption of an amendment, known as the “consumer freedom option”, that would offer cheaper, deregulated plans for healthy people – a proposal that has been criticised by other Republican members of Congress. While allowing healthy and young people to get cheap coverage, opponents say the amendment would shift the sick and those with pre-existing conditions into high-risk pools that would likely cause premiums to spike to unaffordable levels.

With a majority of 52 Republican senators, Mr McConnell can only afford to lose two votes on the healthcare bill and still be able to pass it. In the event of a 50-50 tie, Vice President Mike Pence would be asked to cast the deciding vote. No Democrats are expected to support the legislation.

Ten Republican senators had sent a letter to Mr McConnell at the end of June requesting that he consider truncating, if not completely foregoing, the scheduled August recess to allow them more time “to deliver conservative solutions for pressing legislative issues on behalf of the American people”.

If Mr McConnell had not changed the schedule, there were only 30 working days as of Tuesday until the end of the fiscal year on 30 September, by which the Senate has to use the appropriations process to fund the federal government as well as deal with the debt limit.

During a press conference with eight of the legislators who had signed the letter, many of them newly elected, Senator Steve Daines said he did not see any reason why they should be leaving Washington in August given all of the work they have to get done.

“Most of us are new,” said Senator Mike Rounds. “So, we are very close to what people back home are telling us. And they expect results up here.”

Reporters also asked if the Republican senators had a response to the revelation that Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer in June 2016 after being promised that he would receive damaging information about his father’s campaign opponent, Hillary Clinton.

“I’d like to respond to it in this way: It has nothing to do with what we need to get done in August,” Senator Thom Tillis said.

“That’s the very thing that we need to not be distracted by,” he added. “We have specific things that we have to do here. We’ve got to come up with a healthcare outcome, we’ve got to come up with a tax plan, we’ve got to come up with a spending strategy, and we’ve got to be disciplined and not get distracted by things that may be legitimate but not right now in our lanes.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/healthcare-bill-trump-recess-delayed-senate-mitch-mcconnell-vote-a7836191.html

GOP Health-Care Push Gets Trickier

July 9, 2017

Divisions within the party complicate McConnell’s path

The U.S. Capitol, shown in late June, will be the focus of health-care maneuvering as lawmakers return from their recess.

The U.S. Capitol, shown in late June, will be the focus of health-care maneuvering as lawmakers return from their recess. PHOTO: SAUL LOEB/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

A weeklong recess has only made Senate Republicans’ path toward health legislation harder, with lawmakers returning to Washington facing at least one more defection and negotiations sputtering between conservatives and centrists.

In addition, a concession by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) over the recess that lawmakers would have to act to stabilize health-insurance markets if GOP senators can’t agree on legislation drew sniping from within his own party.

The recess, which GOP leaders hoped would spur Republican senators to coalesce around a bill to overturn much of the Affordable Care Act, instead saw lawmakers getting an earful from constituents and casting further doubts on the Republican plan. Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota told a local newspaper that he doesn’t support the current legislation, joining nine other members who had already come out against it.

Negotiations over changes to the bill to bring more Republicans on board have reached an apparent standoff. Conservatives, like Mike Lee of Utah, are insisting on a provision that would let insurers sell cheaper, less-comprehensive plans. But centrists have signaled they would oppose such a measure, fearing it would erode protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.

The intraparty divide presents a tough obstacle for Mr. McConnell. Republicans initially aimed to get health legislation to President Donald Trump’s desk by early April, according to a presentation by GOP leaders. Then a vote was planned for just before the recess, but Mr. McConnell, of Kentucky, was forced to postpone it.

Now a vote, if one occurs, would likely come in mid-to-late July, with Congress’s August recess serving as the next deadline. If that fails, the legislative calendar would only get more difficult.

While the ACA funds expansions in health coverage with taxes on health industries and high-income households, the GOP bill does the reverse. It would repeal taxes and lower projected government spending toward Americans’ health coverage while phasing out the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and cutting Medicaid more broadly. It would reduce the ACA’s tax credits for low-income consumers and would let states get waivers from some insurance regulations. It also would scale back ACA requirements imposed on employer-based health plans.

The most conservative senators say the bill doesn’t go far enough toward repealing the ACA, while more centrist lawmakers such as Sen. Susan Collins of Maine worry that it guts too much of the current law and takes coverage from too many people.

The legislation would leave 22 million more people uninsured in a decade compared with the ACA, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

As Republicans struggled to unite behind a bill, Mr. Trump said in late June that if they can’t, they should pass a bill repealing the ACA, sometimes called Obamacare, and then work on a replacement. Mr. McConnell has shown little enthusiasm for that idea, and some Capitol Hill aides say Mr. Trump’s suggestion has complicated the ability to get legislation passed.

The majority leader, who presides over a narrow 52-48 majority, can only afford to lose two GOP votes and still pass the bill, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a potential 50-50 tie.

Mr. McConnell hoped to assemble a revised bill over the recess, but publicly at least, Senate Republicans seem at least as polarized as before. Mr. Hoeven said he is concerned the bill doesn’t do enough to help low-income people in his state and those with pre-existing conditions.

Still, he said he hopes health-care legislation, possibly composed of multiple bills instead of one, would pass.

“I think there’s a number of ways to do it, but we’re going to have to make sure that between Medicaid and the refundable tax credit that we have a good option for low-income individuals,” he said in an interview last week.

Conservatives responded sharply to Mr. McConnell’s suggestion that Republicans, presumably working with Democrats, would have to pass a measure to stabilize the insurance markets if they couldn’t agree on their own health bill. Such efforts could include continuing billions of dollars in payments to insurers to offset their costs for providing subsidies that lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income consumers. Mr. Trump has threatened to stop those payments.

“If the Republican Party wants to work with Democrats to bail out Obamacare, the results will be catastrophic for the party,” said Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action. “For seven years it has pledged it is the party of repeal, and now is the time to work toward that goal.”

A recent proposal from Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) has also provoked divisions. It would let insurers that sell plans complying with ACA regulations to also sell health policies that don’t.

Health analysts say that would likely cut premiums for younger, healthier people, who would buy more limited policies, while causing premiums to rise for people with pre-existing conditions who would buy the more comprehensive plans that comply with the ACA.

Conservative groups are insisting the Cruz proposal be a part of the Senate legislation. Mr. Cruz’s plan has been sent to CBO, which is expected to provide an analysis of its financial and coverage impact as early as this week, according to a person familiar with the talks.

Mr. Cruz has said that providing additional choices would lower premiums for many, and that sicker people would still have options. “Under this amendment, the protections for pre-existing conditions remain there,” Mr. Cruz told a Dallas television station.

But Democrats said the plan would create a bifurcated system with insurance becoming increasingly expensive for older, less-healthy individuals. “This is nothing more than a two-track system for making Trumpcare even meaner,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.).

Write to Stephanie Armour at stephanie.armour@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/following-recess-gop-health-care-push-gets-trickier-1499598000?mod=e2fb

Trump says Obamacare should be repealed even if it’s not replaced with anything

July 2, 2017

Senators from different wings of the Republican party disagree with key parts of the Obamacare repeal and replacement bill

By Alexandra Wilts Washington DC

The Independent

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trumpcare-protest.jpgActivists march around the US Capitol to protest the Senate Republicans’ health care bill Getty Images

Donald Trump is calling for Senate Republicans to repeal Obamacare – even if they have no bill to replace it with.

A proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, has struggled in the Senate, with senators from different wings of the Republican party disagreeing on key aspects of the plan.

Moderate senators worry that millions of people would lose their insurance following cuts to Medicaid – a healthcare programme for the poor – while conservatives assert that the bill does not do enough to erase Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic legislation.

The senators’ efforts were complicated on Thursday when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the Senate proposal would cut spending on government Medicaid by 35 per cent come 2036.

“If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who said this week that he was not satisfied with the Senate healthcare measure, appeared to welcome Mr Trump’s suggestion.

If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!

“Sounds great, Pres. @realDonaldTrump,” Mr Sasse wrote in a response on Twitter. “We are agreed. We need to break the logjam.”

However, the prospect of not having an alternative to Obamacare in place has raised concerns that insurance markets would collapse and people not insured under the ACA would be left with few or no options for coverage, hitting the poor particularly hard.

Senator Rand Paul, a leading voice on the conservative wing, wants to ditch more parts of Obamacare and supports splitting the Senate healthcare bill into two – one for repeal and one for spending.

“You can repeal the taxes, you can repeal some of the regulations – I prefer all of them – and you can also do some Medicaid reform. That could be in a repeal bill, and it will be a much narrower and much cleaner repeal,” he told MSNBC.

Sounds great, Pres. @realDonaldTrump

We are agreed. We need to break the logjam.https://outreach.senate.gov/iqextranet/view_newsletter.aspx?id=101185&c=SenSasse https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/880737163247267840 

Photo published for Sasse Sends Plan B to Trump: If No Agreement Next Week, Repeal First and Spend August on Replace

Sasse Sends Plan B to Trump: If No Agreement Next Week, Repeal First and Spend August on Replace

Sasse Sends Plan B to Trump: If No Agreement Next Week, Repeal First and Spend August on Replace

outreach.senate.gov

Asked about that option, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said, “That’s a very strong possible alternative strategy.”

She told Fox News that the White House was confident healthcare reform can get done this summer, followed by tax reform.

Mr Trump’s proposal for the Senate to just repeal Obamacare comes after he told reporters earlier this week that “healthcare is working along very well…we’re gonna have a big surprise. We have a great healthcare package.”

The President also told Republican senators during a meeting at the White House that “this will be great if we get it done.”

But appearing to recognise the opposition the healthcare bill faces, he added: “And if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like. And that’s okay, and I understand that very well.”

With a majority of 52 senators, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only afford two defections on the bill and still be able to pass it. No Democrats are expected to vote in favour of the legislation.

Mr McConnell is trying to send a revised version of their healthcare bill to the Congressional Budget Office so that the nonpartisan group can measure the legislation’s impact on coverage levels and federal spending by the time senators return to Washington DC in mid-July.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-healthcare-obamacare-repeal-republicans-nothing-replace-a7817081.html

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David Stockman Warns “A Great Big Coup Is On The Way” — Intelligence agencies and political operatives in the Obama White House could have been a party to unconstitutional interference in the election process

June 23, 2017

Submitted by David Stockman via The Daily Reckoning,

So let’s start with an obvious point about the whole Russia fiasco…

Namely, there is no “there, there.” First off, the president has the power to declassify secret documents at will. But in this instance he could also do that without compromising intelligence community (IC) “sources and methods” in the slightest.

That’s because after Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, the whole world was put on notice — and most especially Washington’s adversaries — that it collects every single electronic digit that passes through the worldwide web and related communications grids.

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Washington essentially has universal and omniscient SIGINT (signals intelligence). Acknowledging that fact by publishing the Russia-Trump intercepts would provide new knowledge to exactly no one.

Nor would it jeopardize the lives of any American spy or agent (HUMINT). It would just document the unconstitutional interference in the election process that had been committed by the U.S. intelligence agencies and political operatives in the Obama White House.

That pales compared to whatever noise comes out of Langley (CIA) and Ft. Meade (NSA). And I do mean noise.

Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling

Yes, I can hear the boxes on the CNN screen harrumphing that declassifying the “evidence” would amount to obstruction of justice! That is, since Trump’s “crime” is a given (i.e. his occupancy of the Oval Office), anything that gets in the way of his conviction and removal therefrom amounts to “obstruction.”

Given that he is up against a Deep State/Democratic/Neoconservative/mainstream media prosecution, the Donald has no chance of survival short of an aggressive offensive of the type I just described.

But that’s not happening because the man is clueless about what he is doing in the White House. And he’s being advised by a cacophonous coterie of amateurs and nincompoops. So he has no action plan except to impulsively reach for his Twitter account.

That became more than evident — and more than pathetic, too — when he tweeted out an attack on his own Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein. At least Nixon fired Elliot Richardson (his Attorney General) and Bill Ruckelshaus (Deputy AG):

I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.

Alone with his Twitter account, clueless advisors and pulsating rage, the Donald is instead laying the groundwork for his own demise. Were this not the White House, this would normally be the point at which they send in the men in white coats with a straight jacket.

Indeed, that’s essentially what the Donald’s so-called GOP allies on the Hill are actually doing.

RussiaGate is a witch hunt like few others in American political history. Yet as the mainstream cameras and microphones were thrust at one Congressional Republican after another following the Donald’s outburst quoted above, there was nary an echo of agreement.

Even Senator John Thune, an ostensible Swamp-hating conservative, had nothing but praise for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, that he would fairly and thoroughly get to the bottom of the matter.

No he won’t!

Mueller is a card-carrying member of the Deep State who was there at the founding of today’s surveillance monster as FBI Director following 9/11. Since the whole $75 billion apparatus that eventually emerged was based on an exaggerated threat of global Islamic terrorism, Russia had to be demonized into order to keep the game going — a transition that Mueller fully subscribed to.

So he will “find” extensive Russian interference in the 2016 election and bring the hammer down on the Donald for seeking to prevent it from coming to light. The clock is now ticking. And his investigatory team is being packed with prosecutorial killers with proven records of thuggery. They’re determined to find crimes that create fame and fortune for prosecutors — even if the crime itself never happened.

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FBI Director Robert Mueller in a 2013 file photo by  J. Scott Applewhite AP

For example, Mueller’s #1 hire was the despicable Andrew Weissmann. This character had led the fraud section of the department’s Criminal Division and served as general counsel to the F.B.I. when Mueller was its director. And more importantly, Weissmann was the driving force behind the Enron task force — the most egregious exercise in prosecutorial abuse and thuggery in 100 years.

Meanwhile, the GOP leadership could not be clearer about what is coming down the pike.

They are not defending Trump with even a hint of the vigor and resolve that I recall from the early days of Tricky Dick Nixon’s ordeal. Of course, Nixon didn’t survive anyway.

Instead, it’s as if Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, et al. have offered to hold his coat, while the Donald pummels himself with a 140-character Twitter Knife that is visible to the entire world.

So there should be no doubt. A Great Big Coup is on the way.

But here’s the irony of the matter: Exactly four years ago in June 2013 no one was seriously demonizing Putin or Russia. In fact, the slicksters of CNN were still snickering about Mitt Romney’s silly claim during the 2012 election campaign that Russia was the greatest security threat facing America.

But then came the Syrian jihadist false flag chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus in August 2013 and the U.S. intelligence community’s flagrant lie that it had proof the villain was Bashar Assad.

To the contrary, it subsequently became evident that the primitive rockets that had carried the deadly sarin gas, which killed upwards of 1500 innocent civilians, could not have been fired from regime held territory. The rockets examined by UN investigators had a range of only a few kilometers, not the 15-20 kilometers from the nearest Syrian base.

In any event, President Obama chose to ignore his own red line and called off the bombers. That in turn paved the way for Vladimir Putin to persuade Assad to give up all of his chemical weapons — a commitment he fully complied with over the course of the next year.

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Needless to say, in the eyes of the neocon War Party, this constructive act of international statesmanship by Putin was the unforgivable sin. It thwarted the next target on their regime change agenda — removal of the Assad government in Syria as a step toward an ultimate attack on its ally, the Shiite regime of Iran.

So it did not take long for the Deep State to retaliate. While Putin was basking in the glory of the 2014 winter Olympics at Sochi, the entire apparatus of Imperial Washington — the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy, the State Department and a long string of Washington funded NGOs — was on the ground in Kiev assisting the putsch that overthrew Ukraine’s constitutionally elected President and Russian ally.

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From there, the Ukrainian civil war and partition of Crimea inexorably followed, as did the escalating campaign against Russia and its leader.

So as it turned out, the War Party could not have planned a better outcome — especially after Russia moved to protect its legitimate interests in its own backyard resulting from the Washington-instigated civil war in Ukraine. That included protecting its 200-year old naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea.

The War Party simply characterized these actions falsely as acts of aggression against Russia’s European neighbors.

There is nothing like a demonized enemy to keep the $700 billion national security budget flowing and the hideous Warfare State opulence of the Imperial City intact. So why not throw in an allegedly “stolen” U.S. election to garnish the case?

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In a word, the Little Putsch in Kiev is now begetting a Great Big Coup in the Imperial City.

This is a history-shattering development, but don’t tell the boys and girls and robo-machines on Wall Street.

Pathetically, they still think it’s game on.

So if there was ever a time to take advantage of the day traders and robo-machines which linger in the casino, now would be the occasion to sell, sell, sell. Once the breakdown starts there will be no respite from the implosion.

 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-22/stockman-warns-great-big-coup-way

Trump Wants Senate Rules Changed to Speed Up Health-Care, Tax Legislation

May 30, 2017
 Image result for trump, speech , arlington, photos

President Donald Trump speaks at the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Monday, May 29, 2017, during a Memorial Day ceremony. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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By Louise Radnofsky, Richard Rubin and Siobhan Hughes
The Wall Street Journal
Updated May 30, 2017 12:34 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump called for a change to Senate rules to allow all bills to pass with a simple majority, elbowing aside Senate Republicans’ current legislative strategy on taxes and health care that already rests on obtaining such a majority.

“The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Trump’s comments about his two top legislative priorities come as Republican leaders are already using a special procedure known as “reconciliation” — which requires only a simple majority of votes in the 100-member Senate — to consider health-care legislation. They are planning to use the same rules for a later tax overhaul.

His request for a 51-vote majority would end the current 60-vote threshold on bills, allowing the Republican majority to advance any legislation without being impeded by the Democratic minority. Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) have said they have no intention of ending the filibuster on legislation.

Democrats, when they were in power in the Senate, ended the filibuster on confirming executive branch appointments and most judges in 2013, while Republicans ended the filibuster for Supreme Court justices earlier this year.

In reaction to the tweet, Republicans highlighted that they are already using a procedure that would allow the party to pass the two measures on a simple majority vote. Reconciliation is a limited exception from the filibuster rules that was created as part of past budget laws.

“Sen. McConnell agrees that both health-care and tax reform are essential, and that is why Republicans in Congress are using the reconciliation process to prevent a partisan filibuster of these two critical legislative agenda items,” said Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for Mr. McConnell, in a statement.

She also pointed to Mr. McConnell’s statement last month that the Senate wasn’t interested in ending filibusters for legislation, as it did when it changed its procedures in order to confirm Supreme Court justices with a simple majority. “There’s not a single senator in the majority who thinks we ought to change the legislative filibuster — not one,” Mr. McConnell told reporters in April.

Mr. Trump also floated the idea of eliminating the filibuster in early May, when it was also dismissed by lawmakers.

Eliminating the filibuster would also mean that Republicans wouldn’t have to pass a fiscal 2018 budget before they can move to a tax bill. That budget process is likely to be a challenging fight among defense hawks, spending cutters and tax-cut advocates.

Mr. Trump’s tweets have kept his allies and opponents off balance during policy fights. His tweet Tuesday and a previous one over the weekend raised new questions about how he views the tax overhaul and the health-care plan.

Mr. Trump’s reference to “tax cuts” stands in contrast to his own budget, released last week. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the budget assumes there wouldn’t be a net tax cut, though Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin seemed to contradict that in simultaneous congressional testimony, by saying that tax cuts would be paid for partly with stronger economic growth.

On Sunday, Mr. Trump tweeted about the health-care legislation that has already passed the House after a tough fight, which his own aides hope will not be tossed aside by the Senate in a bid to start from scratch.

“I suggest that we add more dollars to Healthcare and make it the best anywhere. ObamaCare is dead – the Republicans will do much better!” he wrote.

The GOP plan currently rests on a repeal of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, and much of the spending associated with it, and a new set of provisions offering financial assistance and incentives for people to obtain health coverage. Throwing out the 2010 health law and enacting the Republican replacement would result in less federal spending, not more, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Republicans have invested months of effort in using the reconciliation maneuver, which brings particular complications because it is tied to the budget process and limits the scope of what can be considered.

Despite the decision to press ahead with reconciliation, and seek 50 or 51 votes rather than the usual 60, GOP Senate leaders are already wary about their chances to press through a health-care bill given the party’s slender 52-member majority in the upper chamber.

That means the party can lose no more than two GOP votes, assuming no support from Democrats. Democrats have been unified and vocal in their opposition to overturning the health-care policy that was the signature domestic achievement of the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, at least three GOP senators on either end of the party’s caucus have signaled irreconcilable differences, making the path forward far from straightforward.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-wants-senate-rules-changed-to-speed-up-health-care-tax-legislation-1496162011

Republicans Confront Health-Bill Backlash — Fight over public messaging ramping up

May 9, 2017

Messaging fight could help shape Senate bill amid disquiet over House measure

May 8, 2017 6:13 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—House Republicans may have won the battle to pass a health-care overhaul, but the fight over public messaging that is now ramping up could be critical to the shape of the bill that emerges from the Senate and to any final compromise.

GOP leaders and the Trump administration are urgently trying to tamp down a backlash from Democrats and some Republicans who say the House legislation rolling back and replacing much of the Affordable Care Act would imperil coverage for millions of Americans.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) largely sidestepped details of the House bill Monday, focusing instead on the problems plaguing the current health-care system that he said were prodding his chamber to act.

“For years, the American people have suffered under this failed law. … Now, they’re watching as Obamacare collapses all around them,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. He also sought to temper expectations that the Senate would move swiftly as it writes its own health-care legislation. “This process will not be quick or simple or easy, but it must be done,” Mr. McConnell said.

Democrats dispute that the ACA is failing. To the extent that it has some struggles, they say, many of them are attributable to Republican attacks.

Republicans are facing criticism that a working group of GOP senators led by Mr. McConnell to write the Senate’s version of a health-care overhaul is composed of 13 men and no women. Several provisions in the House repeal bill directly affect women, including a one-year federal defunding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Critics had similar complaints when the House Freedom Caucus, currently a group of roughly three dozen conservative lawmakers, met to plot strategy in the House. And a widely distributed photo of top Republicans celebrating at the White House after last week’s vote shows mostly men.

Some operatives who work with Republicans are concerned about the message that could send. “Images are powerful, and seeing a lineup of 13 white men in the Senate, and a Rose Garden full of white men from the House celebrating passage of health-care legislation that could take away coverage or protections or access to reproductive care is obviously bad symbolism for Republicans,” said Christine Matthews, president of Bellwether Research, a polling firm that has worked with Republicans.

Still, she said, “ultimately, the public is going to judge health-care policy by what it means to their lives, not who crafted it.”

That isn’t stopping critics from hammering on the issue. “Raise your hand if you’re sick of a small group of men determining your healthcare,” NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion-rights group, tweeted on Monday.

Democrats are also criticizing the Senate working group for discussing changes without public input. Democratic senators sent a letter Monday to GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Orrin Hatch of Utah, who lead health-related committees, asking for hearings.

The battle is being fought on other fronts, as well. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R., La.) said he would appear Monday night on the late-night talk show hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, whose emotional comments about his son’s heart condition last week went viral. Mr. Cassidy has said the Senate health-care bill must pass the “Kimmel test.”

Other top Republicans are also taking to the airwaves. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Sunday said it is “absolutely not” true that people would lose Medicaid coverage because of spending cuts. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) defended a provision in the law that would let insurers impose higher costs on people with pre-existing conditions who let their coverage lapse.

Medicaid is a particularly sensitive area for some Republicans, since President Donald Trump in 2015 promised not to make cuts to the program for the low-income and disabled. The House bill would reduce federal spending on Medicaid by $880 billion between 2017 and 2026, according to an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which coordinates Democratic House campaigns, is launching ads on Facebook and Instagram criticizing the bill in 30 Republican-held districts. They are zeroing in on lawmakers such as Martha McSally of Arizona and Darrell Issa of California, who hold swing seats.

The DCCC’s counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, has released a web video praising House Republicans for keeping their promise to repeal the ACA.

One challenge facing Republicans is that some members of their own party, including senators and governors, are expressing discomfort with the House bill and the turbulent process that produced it. That puts pressure on the Senate to produce something with broader support, an effort that will almost certainly be shaped by the public-relations battle now under way.

“Now that the bill is in the Senate’s hands, we hope the Republican majority will pursue a bipartisan approach,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said on the Senate floor.

Write to Stephanie Armour at stephanie.armour@wsj.com and Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com

Appeared in the May. 09, 2017, print edition as ‘GOP Tries to Quell Health-Bill Backlash.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/republicans-confront-health-bill-backlash-1494281637

Senate Tackles Rewrite on GOP Health-Care Bill

May 6, 2017

Lawmakers in the upper chamber say they are particularly concerned about impact on elderly

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, at lectern, speaks on Capitol Hill earlier this week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, at lectern, speaks on Capitol Hill earlier this week. PHOTO: AARON P. BERNSTEIN/GETTY IMAGES

Among the provisions senators are tackling is one that allows insurers to charge older Americans five times as much as younger people and lets states obtain waivers that could make that disparity even larger.

Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.) is seeking to alter the bill’s tax credits, and at least one version of his proposal would provide more money to the elderly.

Those are among the proposals being scrutinized by a working group of 13 GOP senators led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) that hopes to reach an agreement spanning its own ideological spectrum before working to win over the rest of the Senate GOP.

“We have people who are conservatives, we have people who are much more moderate,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), a forceful conservative and a member of the group, told a Texas radio station. “It frankly is the process I think the House of Representatives should have started with, and they didn’t.”

Mr. Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah have talked about rolling back regulations to lower the cost of premiums. Others have voiced concerns about the House bill’s plans to cut Medicaid funding and freeze its expansion in 2020; they include Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rob Portman of Ohio.

There are no women lawmakers on the Senate working group, which spurred swift criticism on social media.

The working group is essentially setting aside the House bill to craft a package they hope can attract at least 50 of the 52 GOP senators and avoid Senate procedural rules that could require 60 votes for passage, given that no Democrats are expected to vote for it. Many of their alterations are expected to be aimed at softening the blow for the elderly.

“Older people buying their own insurance, especially those with lower incomes, are probably the hardest-hit group under this bill,” said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit focused on health-care issues.

Signs are already emerging that the GOP could pay a price if it doesn’t address that issue. The AARP, a powerful group representing older Americans, is concerned, among other things, about a provision allowing states to get waivers so insurers could charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing health problems who let their coverage lapse.

That is a risk for the 25 million people age 50-64 who have pre-existing conditions, according to the AARP. The group sent a letter to Capitol Hill warning it is carefully watching how lawmakers vote on the health proposals.

Fourteen of the 23 House Republicans in districts won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential race voted for the GOP health bill, and following Thursday’s vote, the Cook Political Report changed its evaluation of 20 House seats in a direction favoring Democrats in 2018.

Democrats should be careful not to overstate the bill’s impact, said Nathan Gonzales, who analyzes House races for the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report.

“Perception can be more powerful than reality in elections,” he said. But, he added, “if Democrats spend the next year-and-a-half telling people the sky is falling and it doesn’t, it could dampen the party’s ability to gain seats.”

Rep. Bill Flores (R., Texas) said he sees no reason for Democrats to celebrate.

“If they think this is good for them, then they forgot what they did to the American people,” Mr. Flores said, referring to the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

Under the House bill, people would no longer have to pay a penalty for not having health coverage, but that is largely a perk for younger consumers who are generally healthier.

The bill would let people who don’t have coverage through their job get refundable tax credits that increase with age. The credits start at $2,000 for people under age 30 and go up to $4,000 for people who are 60 and older—far less than they receive on average under the law now.

Annual premiums for adults ages 60-64 would rise 22%, based on a study by Milliman, an actuarial firm that did the research for AARP. States could also obtain federal waivers that would allow insurers to make that disparity—and premium increase—even greater.

“Washington Republicans turned their backs on millions of Americans,” Rep. Cheri Bustos (D., Ill.) said on the House floor this week. “Whether you’re an older American who will start paying an age tax, the parent of a child with a pre-existing condition who could have their health coverage ripped away or a small-town American who relies on a rural hospital that’s now at greater risk of closing its doors.”

The impact on older people weighed on some House Republicans, some of whom have begun distancing them from the bill by saying they supported it even though they believe it needs changes in the Senate.

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R., N.J.) a centrist who played a key role in the bill’s passage, said he was concerned when the House bill first came out of committee that the legislation put heavier financial burdens on older Americans. He said he worked to add more money for the disabled and older Americans using Medicaid; he said that problem was solved in the final version.

“I think it’s trying to strike a balance,” Mr. MacArthur said. “The Affordable Care Act did just the opposite. It made it so younger people weren’t buying into insurance. That’s one of the reasons Obamacare failed.”

Mr. MacArthur said more young people will be able to buy insurance using the tax credits the GOP’s bill offers, instead of paying a penalty as they did under Obamacare.

The Senate working group began meeting weeks ago, but it wasn’t clear until recently that the House bill would pass. It includes Republicans with varying health-care priorities.

Senators are weighing pushing the phaseout of the law’s Medicaid expansion until 2022. There is also some talk about nixing a provision that would change Medicaid funding from its current fixed system.

The group’s ranks also include committee chairmen and senior Republicans. But it doesn’t include two key GOP lawmakers whose votes are considered especially difficult to land— Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

While the House Republican’s gambit was to work furiously to try to sway votes, Senate leaders hope to avoid last-minute arm-twisting and instead hammer out differences ahead of time. GOP senators plan to keep the legislation closely guarded until close to the vote.

Some House Republicans said that if the Senate can pass its own version of the health-care bill, it will face major challenges when it returns to the House and faces wary conservatives.

“Don’t expect that what is happening in the House of Representatives today is game, set, match on the issue,” said Rep. Steve Womack (R., Ark.). When it returns from the Senate, he said, “I’m guessing it will be a pretty heavy lift.”

Write to Stephanie Armour at stephanie.armour@wsj.com

Appeared in the May. 06, 2017, print edition as ‘Senators Tackle Health Bill Rewrite.’