Congress Jumpstarts Obamacare Repeal

Washington – This afternoon, the House passed S. CON. RES. 3.  While the resolution will technically set the congressional budget for the United States Government for the remaining eight months of fiscal year 2017, its only functional purpose is to produce reconciliation instructions that unlock fast track authority that Congress can then use to repeal Obamacare. Heritage Action released the following statement from chief executive officer Michael A. Needham:

“This week, the House and Senate took an important first step toward delivering on a longstanding campaign priority: the repeal of Obamacare. Now lawmakers must turn their attention to repealing Obamacare and then providing a smooth transition to a reformed health care system. This Congress – not some future Congress – has a lot to do, and Heritage Action looks forward to working with lawmakers to empower patients, expand access and lowers health care costs.”

Heritage Action began laying out the path forward in its key vote earlier this week:

“As that process moves forward in the coming weeks — reconciliation recommendations must be submitted to the House and Senate budget committees by January 27 — conservatives will view the reconciliation measure vetoed by President Obama as the bare minimum. That bill would have repealed the vast majority of Obamacare including the individual and employer mandates, the coverage subsidies, Medicaid expansion and the law’s onerous taxes, and included a two-year transition period.  As Speaker Ryan noted last year, ‘We have shown now that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare without 60 votes in the Senate. So, next year, if we’re sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law.’”

Related:
Key Vote: “YES” on Obamacare Repeal Budget Resolution (S. CON. RES. 3)
The Hill: Congress has a Mandate to Repeal Obamacare

A Lame Duck Energy Bill

Washington — According to intel, conferees worked tirelessly over the weekend to finalize a conference report incorporating elements of the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012). Heritage Action key voted final passage of S. 2012 in the Senate because the bill contained very few meaningful conservative victories and included numerous provisions that expanded the government footprint. Heritage Action has released the following statement from vice president Dan Holler:

“It is troubling that lawmakers are looking to move an energy bill in the waning days of the Obama administration. Legislating in a lame duck session is problematic, but the bill also potentially threatens to undermine the Trump transition’s effort to reform the Departments of Energy and Interior.”

In May, Heritage Action laid out a series of red lines for any conference report product.  Heritage Action opposes the inclusion of the  following provisions:

  • Permanent extension of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
  • The SAVE Act (Previous key vote on this provision here)
  • Extended eligibility for the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program
  • Stafford Act disaster aid eligibility expansion for energy efficiency products or structures

You can read Heritage Action’s full list of concerns here.

Conservatives Secure Important Victory on National ‘Draft’

WASHINGTON- Earlier this year, House Republicans successfully removed a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have included America’s young women in a national military draft. Despite the House’s efforts, the “Draft our Daughters” provision was included in the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Fortunately, 17 Senate conservatives  signed a letter, championed by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) 94%, advocating opposition to any defense bill that included the  “Draft our Daughters” provision. The provision was ultimately removed during conference negotiations, marking an important win against the left’s radical agenda.  Heritage Action released the following statement from vice president Dan Holler:

“Leaders in Congress heeded the outcry of the American citizens and stood firm to remove the provision to Draft our Daughters from the National Defense Authorization Act. This is victory for  standing firm against the progressive social agenda and an achievement in protecting America’s daughters from being forced into the selective service.”

Earlier this year,  Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) 86% offered an amendment that was added to the FY17 Financial Services Appropriations bill to prohibit funding for the implementation of any such changes.  Adoption of the amendment ensured conservatives stayed on offense.  Heritage Action also applauded the 17 signers of the letter, led by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) demanding no inclusion of Draft our Daughters;  Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) 33%,
Sen. John Thune (R-SD) 50%,
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) 51%,
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) 66%,
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) 51%,
Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) 64%,
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) 94%,
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) 77%,
Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) 40%,
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) 74%,
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) 100%,
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) 63%,
Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) 73%,
Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) 81%,
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) 78%,
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) 52%.

Additionally, Heritage Action criticized the conference report for failing to include the  Russell Amendment, which makes the religious exemptions under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act apply to the contracting space by statute, in the NDAA. Heritage Action previously said:

“Even after enduring an electoral defeat, the Obama administration and its left-wing allies continue to use America’s military as a pawn to undermine religious liberty. The Russell Amendment simply reaffirms and reapplies longstanding federal protections of religious liberty. Republican conferees, including Chairmen John McCain (R-AZ) 49% and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) 55%, should not be intimidated by the Obama administration’s blatant attack on religious diversity. We should all fight to preserve the policies that have served our diverse nation well for more than half a century.”

Some have suggested the Obama administration’s excesses will be reversed shortly after January 20, 2017.  The Heritage Foundation’s Melanie Israel outlines the path forward for the Russell language come 2017:

“Though the outgoing administration has been eager to use executive action to discriminate against religious social service providers that interact with the government, President-elect Donald Trump has promised to defend religious liberty.

“As president, Trump can use executive authority to roll back the Obama administration’s abuse of executive authority.

“But executive orders alone are not sufficient: Ultimately, Americans need permanent protection from a hostile regulatory state. The incoming Congress should prioritize religious liberty and send Russell Amendment language to the president-elect’s desk, whether as an amendment to another bill or as stand-alone legislation.

“The amendment reflects the best of our traditions without taking anything away from anyone, and is a commonsense continuation of policy that has served our diverse society well since 1964.”

Message to NDAA Conferees: Protect Religious Liberty, Russell Amendment

Washington – According to reports, lawmakers are likely to remove language drafted by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) 67% from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. The Russell Amendment simply “applies decades-old religious exemptions from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) to federal grants and contracts.” Heritage Action released the following statement from vice president Dan Holler:

“Even after enduring an electoral defeat, the Obama administration and its left-wing allies continue to use America’s military as a pawn to undermine religious liberty. The Russell Amendment simply reaffirms and reapplies longstanding federal protections of religious liberty. Republican conferees, including Chairmen John McCain (R-AZ) 49% and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) 55%, should not be intimidated by the Obama administration’s blatant attack on religious diversity. We should all fight to preserve the policies that have served our diverse nation well for more than half a century.”

The Heritage Foundation’s Melanie Israel outlines the path forward for the amendment, which was included in the House version of NDAA that ultimately passed by a comfortable margin (277 to 147):

“Though the outgoing administration has been eager to use executive action to discriminate against religious social service providers that interact with the government, President-elect Donald Trump has promised to defend religious liberty.

“As president, Trump can use executive authority to roll back the Obama administration’s abuse of executive authority.

“But executive orders alone are not sufficient: Ultimately, Americans need permanent protection from a hostile regulatory state. The incoming Congress should prioritize religious liberty and send Russell Amendment language to the president-elect’s desk, whether as an amendment to another bill or as stand-alone legislation.

“The amendment reflects the best of our traditions without taking anything away from anyone, and is a commonsense continuation of policy that has served our diverse society well since 1964.”

Heritage Action Congratulates Mark Walker on RSC Election

Washington – This morning, members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) elected Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) 85% as the committee’s chairman for the 115th Congress.  Heritage Action released the following statement from chief executive officer Michael A. Needham:

During his short time in Congress, Congressman Walker led serious legislative efforts to advance conservative policy priorities on issues ranging from education to health care.  In an era of unified government, the Republican Study Committee is well positioned to advance conservative priorities that will help Americans who rightly feel disconnected from the success experienced by the nation’s ruling class.

“Heritage Action commends Rep. Andy Harris for his principled campaign and continued commitment to conservative principles.  We congratulate Mark Walker and look forward to working with him in his new role.”