Health Care

Health law appeal paused as shutdown affects federal courts
Justice Department also asks for pause in suit concerning acting AG Whitaker

Citing the shutdown, Justice Department lawyers asked for a pause in a suit challenging the appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, pictured here. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The partial government shutdown halted a major challenge to the 2010 health care law among other civil litigation on Friday, as Justice Department lawyers sought the same in a challenge from three Senate Democrats to the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued a two-page order granting the Trump administration’s request to halt the 2010 health care law case “in light of lapse of appropriations.”

Virginia senators concerned that shutdown could jeopardize security clearances
Furloughed workers cite compounding problems, such as health insurance lapse

Brian Uholik, right, a furloughed Justice Department employee, holds his infant daughter Wynnie while discussing with his wife Jamie how the government shutdown has impacted their family during a roundtable discussion with government employees and Sens. Mark Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Brian Uholik is a proud father of a new baby daughter, but he’s also a furloughed trial attorney at the Department of Justice.

Uholik was among the federal employees from Northern Virginia who met Friday morning with Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats who have been pushing for a quick end to the partial government shutdown.

Rep. Ilhan Omar likens access to medicine in US to that in her native Somalia
Freshman congresswoman shares story of her aunt who died in Somalia for lack of insulin

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. speaks at a news conference with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the Capitol to introduce a legislative package that would lower prescription drug prices in the U.S. on January 10, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar shared that her aunt died of “diabetic shock” in Somalia when she was 21 years old because she did not have access to medication, and said the fact that this sort of tragedy can happen in a country as wealthy as the United States is a “mark of shame.”

“There are people in the developing world who are dying because they don’t have access to health care or they don’t have access to medicine. My aunt was one of those people,” said Omar, whose family resettled in Minnesota as refugees after fleeing the civil war in their native Somalia.

Senators clash over abortion fee rule
Proposal would change how individuals are billed for abortion coverage

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., joined 13 other Republican senators in a letter urging the HHS to move forward with a rule that would change how individuals are billed for abortion coverage. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats and Republicans at odds over a proposed rule that would change how individuals are billed for abortion coverage sent two competing letters to Health and Human Services this week.

The public comment period for the rule closed Tuesday, amassing over 74,000 comments.

Democrats use vote on health care lawsuit to pressure Republicans on pre-existing conditions
GOP leaders not expecting their members to take Democrats‘ bait

Democrats made health care a central issue in the 2018 midterms. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s only the second week of the 116th Congress, but Democrats are already trying to put Republicans on record on protecting people with pre-existing health conditions.

Democrats made health care a major issue in the 2018 midterms on their way to picking up a net of 40 seats and taking control of the House. A vote Wednesday to defend the 2010 health care law — designed in part to illustrate Republicans’ opposition to it — is a sign Democrats see the issue as one that can help them hold their majority in 2020.

White House to put Medicare cuts on hold during shutdown
Pay-as-you-go law would force cuts if shutdown lingers until Jan. 24

If the shutdown lingers until Jan. 24, under current law, the OMB would be forced to slice around $839 million from nonexempt programs across the government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration won’t order up a round of cuts in federal benefit programs, primarily Medicare, if the partial government shutdown remains in effect later this month, a senior Office of Management and Budget official said.

If the shutdown lingers until Jan. 24, under current law, the OMB would be forced to slice around $839 million from nonexempt programs across the government. That number represents the figure left on the pay-as-you-go “scorecard” for 2018, specifying the net amount added to the fiscal 2019 deficit by laws enacted last year, excluding emergency spending that is exempt from the calculation.

House files to intervene in Texas health law case
Chamber will vote for similar action next week as well

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talks with Democratic women members of the House after a group photo on the East Front of the Capitol on January 4, 2019. On Friday, she directed House lawyers to intervene in the lawsuit challenging the 2010 health law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawyers for the House announced on Friday they had filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit brought by conservative state attorneys general targeting the 2010 health care law.

The motion comes after the House voted Thursday night on a part of its rules package, which included authorization for the House to join the lawsuit, Texas v. U.S.

Divided government will pose an obstacle to lawmaking in 2019
Congress was most dysfunctional from 2011 to 2014 when control of House and Senate was split

The partial government shutdown is already casting a dark shadow for prospects of what Congress might accomplish in 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Washington tends to work best when one party controls both Congress and the White House. It’s most gridlocked, usually, when control of Congress is split.

The Congress of the past two years demonstrated the first principle. By any honest measure, President Donald Trump and his Republican colleagues in the House and Senate got a lot done in 2017 and 2018.

Rep. Mia Love MIA in Lame Duck Session
Minnesota’s Rep. Tim Walz tops list of absentee outgoing members

Outgoing Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, was criticized by a Utah good government group for missing most of the lame duck session since her loss to Rep.-elect Ben McAdams. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Utah Rep. Mia Love has missed more votes in the lame duck session than any of the nearly three dozen other lawmakers who lost their reelection races in November, according to a recent analysis.

The 4th District Republican was absent from a cluster of votes the week before Christmas as the federal government hurtled toward a partial shutdown. Altogether Love missed nearly 84 percent of votes since suffering her midterm loss, the most of any ousted member of Congress, according to an analysis by KUTV.

Negotiations on Spending Deal Will Continue, But No Deal in Sight
Senate won’t vote on House spending plan, McConnell says he hopes White House and Democrats can make a deal

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., is seen on the Capitol's Senate steps before a procedural vote on the spending bill on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker reached an agreement with the two Senate leaders that no vote on a spending plan will happen until there’s agreement between Senate Democrats, House Republicans and the White House.

“We’re not voting on anything else ... until there’s a global agreement,” Corker said on the Senate floor.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?
Crenshaw reaches out to troubled comic, Lankford in a boot, and Corker on Peyton Manning

Sen. Tom Cotton’s 2-year-old son Daniel makes friends with Sen. Susan Collins as the two walk to a vote on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating, and this is the place for it. We look, but we don’t find everything. We want to know what you see too.

Marijuana States Rights Amendment Blocked, But Cory Gardner Will Be Back
Colorado GOP senator said he will be offering the legislation again

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said he will be back to try to protect states' rights with respect to marijuana. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Cory Gardner failed to add language to the Senate’s criminal justice bill that would ensure the federal government respects Colorado’s marijuana legalization. But neither the Republican senator, who is running for re-election in 2020, nor the issue will be going away.

Gardner tried to line up as part of the floor debate on the criminal justice overhaul an amendment based on legislation he introduced with Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?
Pillow talk, Senator Hatch’s Office has spoken, and staffer shuffle

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating, and this is the place for it. We look, but we don’t find everything. We want to know what you see too.

Chuck Schumer Seeks Senate Vote on Defending Obamacare
New push by Senate Democrats to respond to Texas judge’s ruling that law is unconstitutional

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Sunday that Democrats will make another push to get the Senate to defend the health care law in court. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Calling the ruling of a Texas federal judge, “awful, awful,” New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer wants a congressional intervention on behalf of Obamacare.

The Friday night ruling from Judge Reed O’Connor struck down the individual mandate of the 2010 health care overhaul as unconstitutional, and he went a step further in saying that it couldn’t be severed from the rest of the law, meaning it would fall as well. But as a practical matter, the law appears to be remaining in place pending appeals.

Ruling on Health Care Law Leaves Consumers Confused
Law remains in place for now

A pro-health care law demonstrator marches outside of the Supreme Court on the first day of opening arguments that will determine the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care law in 2012. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The most immediate impact of a ruling striking down the 2010 health care law could be confusion and depressed sign-ups in the law’s insurance marketplaces on the final day of open enrollment.

The law remains in place for now — but some consumers may not understand that.