June 30, 2017
Congress left town today for the July 4th recess, leaving themselves a glut of must-pass legislation to tackle when they return on the 11th. Waiting for them upon their return will be the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), addressing the debt limit ceiling, the repeal and replace of Obamacare and 12 spending bills which must be finalized in September. Unless Congress foregoes their August recess, they will basically have three weeks to get all of this done.
The NDAA, which funds the nation's military will be approved (it always is), however, it may take a little extra time to deal with an Obama-era policy that is scheduled to go into effect tomorrow. While we are told there will be a delay in the July 1 deadline set by Obama's DOD Secretary Ash Carter to allow new recruits who self-identify as transgender into the military, the Congress will need to provide a more through solution if Defense Secretary James Mattis does not. An analysis by FRC's Peter Sprigg's showed that the cost of this policy could hit $3.7 billion over 10 years. That amount would equal either one Destroyer for the Navy, twenty-two F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Planes, or 3,700 tomahawk missiles. At a time when our military is suffering from both low morale and low funding, the last thing the Trump administration should do is allow an Obama social experimentation policy to go into effect.
After conversations with members of the Senate earlier today, it's more apparent the repeal of Obamacare could be in trouble. The House-passed American Health Care Plan was changed in the Senate and scheduled to pass this week, but moderates and conservative Republicans couldn't garner the 50 votes needed to pass the bill, so Leader McConnell delayed the vote until after the July 4th recess. The Senate bill, called the Better Health Care Act, saves $321 billion over 10 years, rips out much of Obamacare's taxes, defunds Planned Parenthood for one year, and replaces Obamacare with an approach to give states and insurers more flexibility than the Obamacare one-size-fits-all law. One of the sticking points with moderate members of the GOP is the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) estimate that the bill still would cause 22 million uninsured over current law. These Senators should keep in mind the CBO's abysmal track record over the life span of Obamacare -- if they were in the medical field no doubt they would be sued for malpractice. The Congress must deal with this because Obamacare is not sustainable. Too many insurers are losing money and are therefore pulling out of the exchanges. We will continue to work with Senators as we did with House Members to arrive at a bill that will lead to lower premiums for families, end taxpayer funded abortion, and ends the forced partnership with organizations like Planned Parenthood.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.