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Happy Thursday morning.
One of the biggest problems Democrats face now is the looming expiration of Affordable Care Act subsidies. If Congress doesn’t act, as many as 13 million Americans will get a letter this fall informing them that their health care premiums are going to skyrocket come 2023. This could be a major headache for Democrats just weeks before the midterm elections.
The prevailing wisdom is that Democrats will try to insert language in a budget reconciliation package – the next version of Build Back Better – to extend the current tax credits, which were expanded last year as part of the American Rescue Plan. We don’t see another way for the Senate to avert a premium increase for ACA enrollees besides including it in a reconciliation package, which could pass with just 50 votes.
But Hill Democrats and the White House both acknowledge that the inclusion of ACA subsidies in any reconciliation bill could end up resting with one person – Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Democrats have said they’re largely handing the keys to the reconciliation package over to Manchin, a recognition that he’s the critical vote in the chamber.
The price tag for extending these subsidies is high, as much as $220 billion over a decade, according to CBO.
Here’s the thing: We spoke to a number of people in House and Senate leadership and in the White House and none of them seemed to have any idea where Manchin stood on this issue.
So we spoke to Manchin about Obamacare premium subsidies last night. Manchin was pretty non-committal. In fact, he was borderline negative.
“I understand the conditions that we have and the challenges people have and everything. That’s something that, you know, in a perfect world, you want to do everything you can do. But the bottom line is, we’re strained right now. It’s a big strain. So I can’t tell you anything, you know, people are gonna do what they want to do.”
We then asked Manchin directly if he would support extension of the tax credits.
“There’s a lot of ifs there. That has not been discussed at all. Any discussions I’ve been involved with, it has not been discussed, no.”
Wait a second, what? ACA premiums are going to soar as much as 50% in January if the expanded tax credits expire and no one has presented Manchin with a proposal to remedy that? On a bill that would only require a simple majority vote?
So we continued. Would Manchin support ACA subsidies in reconciliation if Democratic leadership and the White House proposed it?
“The most important thing, if they’re going to do anything, take this inflation as seriously as you can take it because it’s the most serious thing we have going right now. And you have to get your house in order and get that under control. And it’s paying down debt. That means you gotta start paying down debt.
“You don’t have a lot of options to do a lot of other things. So you have to be realistic about what you got. … And I supported [ACA subsidies] in the regular bill. But the bottom line is there’s only so many dollars to go around. And the rest of it – you saw the big package and the wish list they have on climate. I don’t know what they’re going to do.”
We’ll leave it to you. Does this sound like someone who is going to support extending ACA subsidies in the reconciliation package?
And, by the way: Manchin said a reconciliation deal between him and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer isn’t particularly close.
A Schumer spokesperson said the New York Democrat “strongly supports extending the ACA subsidies but Sen. Manchin asked that this topic not be discussed before other core issues are settled.” Of course, there are plenty of House Democrats who would say that this is a core issue.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is leading a press call with reporters on this issue today with Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.). And Hoyer and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn wrote an op-ed on it earlier this month.
“It needs to be in the reconciliation bill,” Hoyer told us last night.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed on the issue during a meeting with President Joe Biden and Schumer at the White House last week. Pelosi echoed concerns of Frontliners and New Dems that millions of Americans will face the choice of sharp premium increases or losing their insurance this fall. The enhanced tax credits don’t actually expire until the end of December but notices of the big premium hikes would hit mailboxes in October, just weeks before the midterms.
During that meeting, Schumer and Biden both expressed doubts that the issue would be taken care of in reconciliation because they didn’t think Manchin would support it, according to multiple House Democratic sources.
Pelosi alluded to as much in a press conference the next day. “There are certain concerns that we have about subsidies in the healthcare bill and the rest, which may or may not be in the negotiation,” Pelosi said when asked about the White House meeting.
So, as we inch toward the July 4th recess here, there are a few realities worth keeping in mind about ACA subsidies.
July is going to be a very busy legislative month. Congress is going to be trying to get USICA done – more on that below.
If reconciliation is going to happen, it needs to be done procedurally before Sept. 30, when the budget resolution expires.
Also: The Senate will vote later this morning to end a GOP filibuster on the bipartisan gun package. Proponents of the bill have more than the 60 votes needed on this key procedural motion.
Once cloture is invoked, the Senate will have up to 30 hours of debate on the gun bill. The July 4 recess will begin after the bill is passed, so it’s possible that GOP opponents will want to speed up consideration since passage is inevitable.
However, these Republicans also want amendment votes to revise or water down the bill, and that’s not happening. So we’ll have to see what the vibe is.
If the Senate passes the bill today or tomorrow, the House will stay in town until it votes on the measure and sends it on to President Joe Biden.
– John Bresnahan, Heather Caygle and Jake Sherman
PRESENTED BY MODERNA
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News: 30 House Democrats press leadership to boost police funding
Thirty House Democrats – including some of the party’s most politically vulnerable lawmakers – have sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team, urging them to take up legislation to boost police funding.
The letter, which was organized by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and signed by a range of Democrats that includes Reps. Abigail Spanberger (Va.), Jared Golden (Maine) and Steven Horsford (Nev.), is sure to raise eyebrows in both Democratic and GOP leadership circles.
Democrats will be particularly interested in how sharp of a tone the letter takes toward members of their own party. And Republicans are sure to see it as evidence of political vulnerability given its focus on rising crime rates, which they see as a huge liability for Democrats.
Here’s the letter and here are some excerpts:
As we have over the last two years, we continue to hear from our constituents who are extremely concerned about the rising level of crime in the country, and about the importance of enforcing laws already on the books. That is why we have consistently advocated for commonsense, bipartisan legislation to increase investment in local police departments to boost the numbers, retention, training, and accountability of law enforcement officers on the beat.
There are a number of bipartisan bills supporting increased resources for police departments and officers that we believe should be considered as standalone legislation by the House no later than when Congress returns from the July 4 district work period
The bills this group wants the leadership to put on the floor include:
H.R. 6448: The Invest and Protect Act, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously.
H.R. 6375: The COPS on the Beat Program Reauthorization and Parity Act
H.R. 1368: Mental Health Justice Act
H.R. 7826: Pathways to Policing Act
The group demands that the “leadership commit to bringing” the bills to the floor “immediately after the July 4 recess, and to bring them as standalone bills.”
Here’s what will stand out to Democratic insiders. The letter states:
The House Judiciary Committee has made clear to several members that it has no intention of bringing any law enforcement bills through the markup process. Therefore, we implore you to please use your power to bring these bills to the floor for up or down votes, as you did recently with the Protecting Our Kids Act bill, so that every member can be on the record and their constituents can know where they stand.
That Democrats are calling out the Judiciary Committee – and thus its chair, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York – is fascinating to us.
Nadler’s office declined to comment. But let’s go through a couple of points here,
One of the bills mentioned in the letter, Rep. Katie Porter’s (D-Calif.) Mental Health Justice Act, is under the primary jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee, not Judiciary.
Taking up these bills would be very divisive within the Judiciary Committee. The panel’s roster includes Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Reps. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.), among others.
Democratic leaders have to pass bills on the floor with Democratic votes alone. Republicans, even when they’re co-sponsors of legislation, can be peeled off. A recent domestic terrorism bill is good example. It passed through the House during the 116th Congress on a voice vote. This Congress, the House passed it on a party-line vote after the three GOP co-sponsors of the bill voted against it.
So Democratic leaders have no easy answer here to the political quandary they face. Frontliners and moderates are convinced these kinds of votes are necessary in order to have a chance of holding onto their seats. But progressives, who need their moderate Democrats to win in order to keep the majority, aren’t willing to even tacitly endorse some of these proposals. And Republicans, eager to win the majority, will oppose most everything.
– Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan
Marijuana banking and climate provisions out of USICA bill
The Big Four – Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy – met this week to begin paring back the USICA bill in a bid to pass it before the August recess. And we hear there has been progress on several fronts.
The SAFE Banking Act – legislation that would allow banks to handle money from cannabis businesses – has been dropped from the package. This was a GOP demand.
The House’s climate provisions have also been removed from the legislation. This was a no-brainer because those items would never pass a 50-50 Senate.
There’s general agreement that the bill needs to include some “guardrails” on federal funding from going to companies that do business with or have subsidiaries in China. This is going to be a hard-fought provision that Senate and House negotiators will wrestle with, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the talks.
The takeaway here is that yes, USICA is moving, but it’s moving at a very slow pace. It’s going to be a real challenge to get it across the finish line during the 12 days both chambers are in session in July.
– Jake Sherman, Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan
PRESENTED BY MODERNA
June is National Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Awareness Month. In the US, approximately every 30 minutes, a baby is born with CMV. What exactly is CMV? Get the facts.
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) is going negative on Republican challenger Herschel Walker on the Georgia airwaves. The spot shows Walker saying his company had 800 employees. However, the ad notes that official records show there were only eight employees. “Is Herschel Walker really ready to represent Georgia?” the ad says in closing. The spot is running statewide.
– Jake Sherman
PRESENTED BY MODERNA
You can protect yourself against CMV with proper hygiene. Learn more about CMV.
9 a.m.: President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will welcome wounded warriors to the White House as part of “the annual Soldier Ride to recognize the service, sacrifice, and recovery journey for wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans.” Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will both attend.
10:30 a.m.: Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
2:15 p.m.: The Covid-19 team will brief.
3:10 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre will brief.
“Justice Dept. Issues More Subpoenas in Trump Electors Investigation,” by Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman
“In Boebert’s District, as Elsewhere, Democrats Surge Into G.O.P. Primary,” by Jonathan Weisman in Basalt, Colo.
“As Biden touts gas tax pause, even some of his own officials balk,” by Tyler Pager, Jeff Stein and Cleve Wootson Jr.
“Germany Takes Step Closer to Gas Rationing With Raised Alert,” by Arne Delfs and Vanessa Dezem
“Inflation Could Be Path to Re-election for GOP’s Most Vulnerable Senator,” by Laura Litvan and Michael Sasso
“Judge Delays Proud Boys Trial,” by Jan Wolfe
“1/6 panel to hear of Trump’s pressure on Justice Dept,” by Eric Tucker
“The Dem governors who could run in 2024 if Biden doesn’t,” by Elena Schneider
“Bigger than Mariel: 140,000 Cubans have arrived at U.S. borders since October,” by Nora Gámez Torres
PRESENTED BY MODERNA
Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is a viral infection that presents symptoms in adults much like a common cold. For most people, CMV does not pose a health risk. But for some, like people who have a weakened immune system or newborns, CMV could have serious consequences. Learn more about CMV.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
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