OBAMACARE. In an effort to fix a bad law, lawmakers created a bill aimed at shifting funds from one part of Obamacare, the Prevention and Public Health Fund, to a the high-risk insurance pool. Fortunately, this bill was defeated, thanks largely to conservative pressure. However, the bill may yet return (sub. req’d):
Megan Whittemore, a spokeswoman for House Majority LeaderEric Cantor, R-Va., said the bill (HR 1549) would come back to the floor in May.
The measure would take about $3.6 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund to extend enrollment in the high-risk pools, which are now closed to new enrollees.
The Obama administration announced in February that it would stop enrollment in the high-risk insurance pools, which were meant to serve as a transition to 2014, when people will be able to buy insurance through the state exchanges created by the law.
What truly needs to happen, however, is for this totally unworkable law to be repealed.
BUDGET. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is proposing two budget gimmicks to spend $85 billion more in 2013 than allowed under sequestration. Heritage outlines the gimmicks:
1. Phantom War Savings
Reid’s proposal (S. 788) suggests placing caps on war-related spending for Iraq and Afghanistan, referred to as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), a category otherwise exempted from the Budget Control Act caps. The savings from the caps are phony because they appear to be based on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline, which assumes that OCO spending will rise, even though it’s winding down.
2. Spend Now, Save Later
Even if Reid’s savings were real, his proposal would increase spending immediately by $85 billion while cutting it by that amount over the course ofthreeyears. If it takes Reid three years to offset five months of sequestration, how long would it take to replace all of sequestration with other cuts? Too darn long for them to possibly ever materialize.
GUNS. Yesterday, the Senate approved a procedural motion that will allow debate on the Democrat gun bill to begin. Sixty votes were required, and the motion garnered 68 in total, including the support of 16 Republican senators, Sens. Lamar Alexander (TN), Kelly Ayotte (NH), Richard Burr (NC), Saxby Chambliss (GA), Tom Coburn (OK), Susan Collins (ME), Bob Corker (TN), Jeff Flake (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), Dean Heller (NV), John Hoeven (ND), Johnny Isakson (GA), Mark Kirk (IL), John McCain (AZ), Pat Toomey (PA) and Roger Wicker (MS).
[Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA)] said the legislation will “replicate” what was agreed to by those senators, a bipartisan deal that expands background checks for commercial gun purchases, including those made at gun shows.
GUNS. Today at 11 am, the gun legislation a handful of Senators have been working on will be revealed, but in Washington, getting things done does not equal making things better:
Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) hope to announce a deal Wednesday and are just working out legislative language, an aide close to the negotiations said Tuesday night. The two lawmakers scheduled a press conference for Wednesday morning, according to advisories issued by both offices.
The deal under discussion would expand background checks for people buying guns from unlicensed dealers in commercial sales online and at gun shows, according to the aide. Currently, only federally licensed dealers must conduct background checks and keep paper records of the sales. The lawmakers agreed to exempt sales to immediate family members and some hunters from the new requirements.
Mr. Schumer and Sen. Mark Kirk (R. , Ill.) also participated in the negotiations.