Senate puts Obamacare on the Reconciliation chopping block. Remember when, among Harry Reid’s many machinations, he used reconciliation to pass Obamacare following Scott Brown’s election to the Senate, thus destroying the Dem’s filibuster proof majority? Well, that which can be passed by reconciliation can be undone by it as well. This from Vox (enjoy the schadenfreude):
Senate Budget Committee Chair Michael Enzi (R-WY) introduced a budget resolution Tuesday that includes “reconciliation instructions” that enable Congress to repeal Obamacare with a simple Senate majority. Passing a budget resolution that includes those instructions will mean that the legislation can pass through the budget reconciliation process, in which bills cannot be filibustered.
That means Republicans will only need 50 of their 52 members in the Senate, and a bare majority in the House, to pass legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act. According to the Wall Street Journal, the budget resolution could be passed by both houses as early as next week. . . .
There’s basically nothing that Democrats alone can do to stop this. Budget resolutions can’t be filibustered, so if Republicans vote to include reconciliation instructions for Obamacare repeal, there’s nothing the opposition can do about it. And, of course, they can’t filibuster the actual repeal bill; that’s the whole point of using reconciliation. . . .
This is great news, though it is still unclear exactly what the Republican Congress will replace it with and, as the WSJ points out, how they will do so. Many seem to be taking the position that any replacement must be subject to filibuster. I think that ridiculous myself. The Senate should just take the position that if Obamacare could be passed in whole by reconciliation in the first place, then so can its replacement. Let the DNC try to fight that one in Court. There are several replacement alternatives, including a detailed proposal by Tom Price, very soon to be head of Health and Human Services, that would foot the bill, yet the Senate and House have not jointly settled upon one.
The House Tries To Gut A Government Ethics Watchdog. The first act of the House was about as tin-eared as could possibly be. In Trump, we see a master businessman who knows the value of giving the appearance of successes out of the gate. In the House, we have far too many tin eared eunuchs who couldn’t sell water to a man dying of thirst. This from Hot Air:
Having the House GOP gut the chamber’s ethics office as one of its first actions this year is more serious, and catnip for Democrats. (BuzzFeed has a bullet-point list of reforms implemented by the change, most notably eliminating anonymous ethics complaints and reducing the Office of Congressional Ethics’s independence by placing it under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Ethics.) “Republicans claim they want to ‘drain the swamp,’” Nancy Pelosi crowed in a statement, “but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House G.O.P. has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions. Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”
The House GOP vote got a lot of media coverage overnight. Now here’s Trump criticizing the move — sort of:
Following the tweets, enough of the idiot House members backed down from their position that Speaker Ryan tabled the rules changes for now.
The Potentially Game Changing
Congress is planning to resubmit the Reins Act: I’ve been beating the drum for years, that the regulatory bureaucracy as currently constituted, drafting regulations that pass into law without a vote of any of our elected representatives, is the single greatest threat to our Republican form of government. Existing laws being insufficient to stop this unconstitutional situation, I’ve been arguing that the REINS Act, first passed by the House in 2012, would be a pragmatic solution that would give Congress control over new regulations. This from the USA Today:
The 115th Congress begins Tuesday with a Republican majority in the House and Senate preparing for the arrival of a Republican president for the first time in eight years.
The House is expected to take up . . . the REINS Act (which stands for Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) . . . The REINS Act would require that before any new major regulation could take effect, the House and Senate would have to pass a resolution of approval. . . .
“Our federal agencies are out of control, and Congress is partly to blame for that,” the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, said in a release last week. “We’ve ceded our legislative responsibility to agencies that were never intended to make laws, and the result has been redundant, counterproductive rules that have massive impacts on our economy.”
When the House considered the Midnight Rules Act in November, the White House said it would recommend that Obama veto it. Trump, however, has taken a page from the conservative playbook and blamed government regulations for holding down economic growth and job creation. He has pledged to eliminate two regulations for every new one adopted during his presidency.
The REINS Act [is] aimed at major rules. An April 2015 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office said are those that meet one of these conditions: an economic impact of more than $100 million; cause significant price increases for consumers, industries, geographic regions or state or local governments; or have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity or foreign competition.
The CBO said that over the past five years, 82 major rules have been adopted each year, on average. Blocking such regulations in the future would have “a significant effect on direct spending,” but CBO could not predict whether the effect would be positive or negative because it could not say whether Congress would block regulations to increase or decrease spending. . . .
And lastly, the Ugly: Still 17 days left until eviction . . .