Sentinel Strategy Call 4/17/17 (Listen to recording here)
Continuing Resolution (CR): Lawmakers will return from a two-week Easter recess on and will have less than a week to extend federal discretionary funding beyond the current deadline.
President Trump wants to lower total federal spending by $18 billion while providing an additional $30 billion for the military and $1.5 billion for construction of a southern border wall. Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), has asked lawmakers to include a policy rider allowing states to defund sanctuary cities. Many conservatives agree with the President and would like the spending bill to reflect conservative policy priorities as well as lower overall federal spending. While nothing has been decided, there are some concerning signs that conservative priorities and important Trump administration priorities may not be part of the funding bill.
Referencing conservatives, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said: “They have to work with somebody to keep the government open…So if you can come to the table, great. If you can’t, then don’t be surprised if the train moves in another direction; because it has to.” One report suggested that “The White House felt like the plans — at least where they stood [in March] — could’ve been drafted by Obama.”
Republicans in Congress should work with conservatives to enact conservative policy priorities and lower federal spending rather than appease Senate Democrats who are demanding no funding for the wall and want to include billions in funding to bail out insurance companies under Obamacare known as “cost-sharing subsidies.” Any funding bill should be used to advance key administration priorities, including overall spending levels and key policy changes, such as funds to begin building the southern border wall. Additionally, no funding should be appropriated for Obamacare’s cost sharing subsidies.
Obamacare Repeal Debate Continues: On March 6th, House Republican Leadership released a long anticipated bill that partially repeals and replaces Obamacare named the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628). Speaker Paul Ryan was forced to delay a vote on the bill before finally pulling the bill from the House floor due to a lack of support among House Republicans – conservatives and moderates included. Nearly every major conservative organization opposed the bill for a variety of reasons, but the main issue with the AHCA is what it fails to include: a repeal of the regulatory architecture of Obamacare that is responsible for the rising cost of health care.
This regulatory architecture is found in Title I of Obamacare and includes a number of insurance regulations and mandates such as community rating, essential health benefits, guarantee issue, actuarial value, among others. Taken together, these mandates and regulations restrict consumer choice and drive up the cost of health care premiums by a national average of 44.5 to 68 percent. If the House passed the AHCA and it was signed into law, the heart of Obamacare would have remained the law of the land and health care premiums would have continued to increase leading up to the 2018 elections. This bill was bad policy and bad politics, but it was also bad process. Conservative input into the bill was excluded when written, members were given only three weeks to debate and review the bill, and an arbitrary all-or-nothing deadline was imposed by House Republican Leadership.
Conservative members of Congress led by House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) negotiated in good faith with President Trump and Republican leaders throughout the process in an attempt to include the repeal of Obamacare’s regulatory architecture in the AHCA. Adding these insurance regulations and mandates into the repeal bill would have lowered health care costs and fulfilled a seven-year old Republican promise to the American people to fully repeal Obamacare. In the end, the repeal of the regulatory architecture of Obamacare was not included in the AHCA and the bill did not have the votes to pass the House.
Instead of giving up and moving on, the failure of the AHCA is a necessary first step to begin the hard work of fully repealing Obamacare. Republicans now have the perfect opportunity to reset the debate and openly negotiate a better bill that repeals Obamacare and lowers health care costs.
Unfortunately, despite the White House’s best efforts to renegotiate the Obamacare repeal legislation the past few weeks, members of the House Republican moderate “ news reports, Vice President Mike Pence had brokered a deal to allow individual states to opt-out of Obamacare Title I insurance regulations until members of the Group and even some members in GOP Leadership balked at the compromise, despite having campaigned and voted to repeal Obamacare for the past seven years. Group” refuse to compromise. According to
While the Group does not publish a list of its members, here are some of the Members from this region that are suspected to be a part of the group.
Conservatives should use this last week of Easter recess to urge their members of Congress to repeal Obamacare, including Title I regulations, as soon as possible by actively participating in town halls, writing letters to the editor, andcontacting their member of Congress directly.
Click here to read Heritage Action’s fact sheet on how the GOP campaigned on repealing Obamacare’s community rating provision. Click here to read Heritage Action’s key vote on the bill and here to read the latest Sentinel brief on how to improve the AHCA. Click here to read a Washington Examiner article detailing why Title I regulation repeal is possible through reconciliation.
Dodd-Frank Repeal: Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) of the House Financial Services Committee is expected to re-introduce a bill to repeal or replace some of the worst provisions contained in Dodd-Frank called the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers, and Entrepreneurs Act or Financial CHOICE Act. The committee is expected to markup the bill soon after its introduction near the end of the month.
In 2016, Chairman Hensarling successfully passed the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 5983) out of committee but the bill never received a House floor vote. Dodd-Frank codifies “too big to fail” policy, harms local community banks, restricts access to credit for investors and homebuyers, raises lending costs, reduces access to capital for small businesses, and created one of the most powerful and unaccountable federal agencies — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Evidence showsDodd-Frank is one of the major factors responsible for the country’s historically slow economic recovery.
Now that Congress has a President supportive of ending Dodd-Frank, Chairman Hensarling has a perfect opportunity to improve and pass Financial CHOICE Act 2.0 out of his committee and onto the House floor. Congress should use this momentum to pass the Financial CHOICE Act and sent it over to the Senate for consideration. Congress could also use budget reconciliation to defund the CFPB and pass a number of other provisions contained in the Financial CHOICE Act later this year. Click here to read Heritage Action’s legislative endorsement of the bill.
Stop Earmarks: A week after the resounding election of a President who campaigned to “drain the swamp” and end cronyism, Republicans in Congress attempted to lift the six-year old ban on earmarks behind closed doors. Earmarks are a form of pork-barrel spending politicians use to pass bad spending bills and redirect taxpayer dollars back to their own districts or states. According to multiple news reports, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) tabled the earmark proposal just before it was about to pass, but Ryan promised to create an internal working group to study the issue and propose a way forward by March 31st. The deadline for decision making was pushed back until June, giving conservatives more time to rally against the false claims being made by pork-backing lawmakers and special interest groups. Conservatives should encourage their congressmen to support the current ban on earmarks. Click here to read a Daily Signal article discussing how to convince your friends that earmarks have no place in Congress.