• Congress this week: Health care, Russian meddling, immigration

    This week, Senate Republicans leaders are struggling to win over enough members of their own conference for their proposed health care bill to repeal and replace Obamacare — even as they move toward a floor vote in just a few days.

    A cost estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) might have further hurt their chances. The score released Monday projects that the Senate measure would leave 22 million more people without health insurance than Obamacare over the next 10 years. The budget scorekeeper said that next year, 15 million more people would be uninsured under the Senate’s measure because Obamacare’s individual mandate that forces a penalty on the uninsured would be eliminated.

    Republicans need 51 votes to pass the 142-page measure, which means they need at least 50 senators to support it, with Vice President Mike Pence being the tie-breaking vote. Assuming all Democrats vote against the bill, more than three Republican “no” votes would kill the legislation. Six Senate Republicans have so far publicly said they oppose the current form. Two of those members — Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada — have suggested it will be challenging to persuade them to vote in favor.

    But a procedural vote to advance the bill also needs 51 votes, and after the CBO score was released, that seemed to be in jeopardy. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, came out against the bill Monday, tweeting that she’ll vote “no” on the motion to proceed to advance the bill. Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin also said they were not likely to support the bill in the procedural vote. The three together could force Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to table the vote until he has enough votes to proceed.

    “They’re trying to jam this thing through,” Johnson said in an interview Monday with radio host Hugh Hewitt. “It’s far from a perfect bill.”

    Then there are those who are undecided who’ve voiced strong concerns. 

    “There are things in this bill that adversely affect my state, that are peculiar to my state. A couple of the things I am concerned about, but if those can be addressed I will. And if they can’t be addressed, I won’t. So right now I am undecided,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

    Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Monday that the upper chamber is plowing ahead with the vote despite suggesting during a Koch Brothers’ donor conference that it could potentially be delayed, with Aug. 1 as the “drop-dead deadline.” 

    “I am closing the door. We need to do it this week before double digit premium increases are announced for next year,” he tweeted.

    Russian interference in European elections

    The Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday will hold an open hearing to discuss Russia’s efforts to meddle in European elections such as in France and Montenegro and the upcoming election in Germany. Witnesses include former Ambassador to Greece and NATO Nicholas Burns, former Montenegrin Ambassador Vesko Garcevic and the Brookings Institution’s Constanze Stelzenmueller, an expert on German, European and transatlantic foreign policy.

    Appropriations hearings

    The Appropriations panels in the House and Senate will be holding various hearings and markups this week. The Senate committee is holding a hearing Thursday on the Capitol Police’s 2018 funding request. The House has already unveiled a bill that would provide an increase of more than $29 million to Capitol Police above the current funding level. It would “fund critical safety and enhanced security functions for all Members, staff, and visitors of the Capitol Complex, and maintain public access to the Capitol and its office buildings,” in the wake of the recent congressional baseball practice shooting.

    Lawmakers would use increased funding to address concerns about protection and security after the shooting, including $7.5 million “to enhance protection for increased training, equipment and technology-related support items,” the committee said in a release.

    The House committee will mark up a 2018 energy and water funding bill on Wednesday.

    Immigration bills 

    The House has votes planned on a few GOP-sponsored immigration measures this week. The “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act” would clarify the tool used by federal immigration enforcement officers to pick up criminal undocumented immigrants from local jails. It would establish statutory probable cause standards to issue detainers for the first time. The measure would also withhold certain federal grants from places that violate federal law, known as as “sanctuary cities,” where they prohibit their law enforcement officers from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

    The House is also scheduled to vote on “Kate’s Law,” which would strengthen penalties against undocumented immigrants convicted of illegal re-entry who have “a serious criminal record.” The bill would increase sentences on criminals who are undocumented and have illegally re-entered the country.

    Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsHealth/~3/DjFFmyTO1no/

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