GOP rushes to vote without knowing full impact of healthcare plan – BY CRISTINA MARCOS AND PETER SULLIVAN – 03/23/17 10:38 PM EDT

“Have you read the bill? Have you read the reconciliation bill? Have you read the manager’s amendment? Hell no, you haven’t!”

Greg Nash

That was then-House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) in 2010 in the heat of the debate over ObamaCare.

Seven years later, Democrats could easily turn those words around on Republicans for the strategy they’re using to repeal and replace the same law Boehner railed against.

House Republicans are moving forward with a vote Friday on their ObamaCare replacement bill even after making significant changes the night before, and without a Congressional Budget Office analysis of those changes.

“We haven’t seen the final bill and won’t have a @USCBO score on the latest version before a vote,” Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) tweeted Thursday night. “This is not regular order, @SpeakerRyan.”

“We must have the opportunity to read and understand the final bill before we vote. It’s irresponsible to do otherwise,” added conservative Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) in a tweet Thursday night.

Republicans on Thursday night announced that they would make some significant changes to the bill with the intention of winning over conservatives.

The most prominent of those changes is to repeal ObamaCare’s essential health benefits, which mandate which health services an insurance plan must cover, including areas like mental health, prescription drugs, and maternity care. The GOP will also add $15 billion to a “stability fund” to the bill in order to provide mental health and maternity coverage, which will be paid for by keeping ObamaCare’s 0.9 percent Medicare tax on high earners for six years.

Repealing the essential health benefits could have far-reaching consequences for the legislation and for the U.S. healthcare system, but the CBO will not have time to release an analysis of the change before the vote on Friday.

“With these amendments, no,” House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told reporters Thursday night when asked if there would be a new CBO report.

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GOP’s Obamacare civil war may have saved Medicaid expansion – SOPHIA TESFAYE – MONDAY, MAR 6, 2017 11:51 PM UTC

House Republicans unveil Obamacare replacement bill after four GOP senators refuse support

Chairman of the board of Americans for Prosperity David Koch speaks at the Defending the American Dream summit hosted by Americans for Prosperity at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

House Republicans released their long-awaited replacement plan Monday evening, after seven years of shouting for repeal of what they derisively dubbed Obamacare. But in a move meant to preempt the bill’s unveiling, Republican senators Rob Portman of Ohio, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky Monday afternoon making clear that they won’t support the bill.

The senators cited a leaked version of the House bill to argue that it “lacks key protections” for those on Medicaid, which was expanded under Obamacare. The move puts Republicans’ entire plans to pass a repeal bill this month in jeopardy.

“The February 10th draft proposal from the House does not meet the test of stability for individuals currently enrolled in the program and we will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states,” the senators wrote to McConnell.

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GOP Plan to Overhaul Tax Code Gets Held Up at the Border – By  Richard Rubin Updated Feb. 7, 2017 11:42 a.m. ET

Linchpin of potential legislation is a concept known as ‘border adjustment,’ which is splitting the business world into competing camps

Foreign-auto dealers worry a border-adjusted tax would force them to raise prices and hurt sales. Above, a salesman at Jack Taylor's Alexandria Toyota in Virginia.

Foreign-auto dealers worry a border-adjusted tax would force them to raise prices and hurt sales. Above, a salesman at Jack Taylor’s Alexandria Toyota in Virginia.Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick for The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—Republicans see a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul the U.S. tax code. Just weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, they are getting a taste of why such attempts are always confounding—every action creates an equal and opposite reaction.

A linchpin of the House Republicans’ tax plan, an approach called “border adjustment,” has split Republicans and fractured the business world into competing coalitions before a bill has even been drafted.

A border-adjusted tax would impose a levy on imports, including components used in manufacturing, and exempt exports altogether. Opposing it are retailers, car dealers, toy manufacturers, Koch Industries Inc., oil refiners and others that say it would drive up import costs and force them to raise prices.

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Cancer Survivor and Former Republican Tells Paul Ryan Obamacare Saved His Life

“I want to thank President Obama from the bottom of my heart.”

A former Republican who once worked for the Reagan and Bush campaigns confronted House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday, asking why the GOP is seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a serious replacement plan. The moment came during a CNN town hall event, where Jeff Jeans revealed that like Ryan, he too once opposed the health care law.

“When it was passed, I told my wife we would close our business before I complied with this law,” Jeans said. “Then at 49, I was given six weeks to live with a very curable type of cancer. We offered three times the cost of my treatment, which was rejected. They required an insurance card.”

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I’m standing here today.”

As Ryan attempted to respond, insisting Republicans are working to replace Obamacare with “something better,” Jeans interjected to publicly express his gratitude to the president.

“I want to thank President Obama from the bottom of my heart because I would be dead if it weren’t for him.”

Hours before the televised event, Republicans took a major step at dismantling Obamacare. On Friday morning, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted in support of repeal efforts:

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Inside the House GOP ethics debacle – By Rachael Bade, John Bresnahan and Kyle Cheney

A surprise move by a group of House Republicans to gut an independent ethics office caught leaders flatfooted — and sparked a national backlash.

Just hours after Republicans voted to gut the House’s independent ethics office, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s phone started lighting up with calls and texts.

The California Republican had tried to warn his colleagues about the political risks of defanging the Office of Congressional Ethics during a closed-door, secret ballot roll call Monday night. And after that vote, a number of lawmakers who agreed with McCarthy raised serious concerns about approving the controversial pitch in a public vote the next day.

By early Tuesday morning, McCarthy, Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of GOP leadership realized the proposal was about to tank the entire House rules package — and implode the first day of the GOP-led Congress. They convened an emergency closed-door conference meeting around noon to discuss removing the ethics provision — but it was too late. Donald Trump had tweeted his disapproval, and the public outcry had risen to such a crescendo that all anyone wanted to talk about was an obscure House office few people had ever heard of just 24 hours before.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who added that the ethics snafu was an unforced error. “Sometimes people have to learn the hard way.”

House Republican’s push to neuter the OCE on the first day of a new Congress turned into a major public relations fiasco after the press, the public and president-elect himself came out against the move Tuesday. Trump, after all, ran on a platform of “draining the swamp” of an all-too-cozy Washington — a pitch that didn’t mesh well with the proposal to rein in oversight of lawmakers’ ethical issues.

So the opening of the 115th Congress, which was supposed to center on Obamacare repeal and GOP unity, ended up being being overwhelmed by another issue. That Ryan was re-elected speaker on the same day with only one Republican defection — a positive sign for a GOP leader who’s faced restive conservatives in the past — became a mere afterthought, for example.

Republican leaders vowed to revisit the issue over the summer, although Tuesday’s problems could provide a lesson. Given that they control all of the levers of power in D.C., Democratic resistance won’t provide the political cover it used to over the last eight years. Washington belongs to Republicans — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

“I think a move in that direction would be bad policy and bad politics,” said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), who blasted the refoms. “It’s probably not the way you want to start out [the new Congress].”

A number of Hill Republicans have been seeking to curb the powers of the ethics watchdog for years. Privately, they say the office is too aggressive, pursues baseless anonymous tips and has become an unfair burden, both financially and politically, on lawmakers. Each time members approached ex-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) about the matter, he deferred, saying this is something that should be done a bipartisan basis. But bipartisan reforms never materialized.

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Don’t ignore the lame duck. Policy fights are raging in Congress that will affect millions. – Updated by Jeff Stein Dec 2, 2016, 2:30pm EST

Mitch McConnell has led the opposition to a bill that would rescue the pension funds of tens of thousands of coal miners. If Congress fails to act, the pensions are set to expire at the beginning of 2017. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Mitch McConnell has led the opposition to a bill that would rescue the pension funds of tens of thousands of coal miners. If Congress fails to act, the pensions are set to expire at the beginning of 2017. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Mitch McConnell has led the opposition to a bill that would rescue the pension funds of tens of thousands of coal miners. If Congress fails to act, the pensions are set to expire at the beginning of 2017. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

There’s less than two months left until the Republican Party takes complete control of the government on January 20, 2017.

But Washington won’t simply be at a standstill until then. What happens in Congress in the time President Obama has left — during what’s known as the “lame-duck session” — will have a huge impact on the lives of millions of Americans.

At stake is the safety of the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, the pensions of thousands of laid-off coal miners throughout Appalachia, the biggest health reform package since Obamacare, and the paychecks of all US troops — and that’s during what’s considered a relatively uneventful lull in the legislative chambers.

Perhaps just as importantly, the next seven weeks are when Democrats will lay the groundwork for the much bigger and more critical struggle against the soon-to-be empowered GOP. Where congressional Democrats decide to fight now — and who emerges as leading advocates of the opposition — will shape how they’ll try to stop the Republican Party in the next session.

Here is a look at five of the most important fights in the lame-duck Congress — and how they’ll influence the much bigger battles looming around the corner.

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