Summer Vacation Delayed-Senate to Focus on Health Care Bill

US Capitol Building

Late yesterday, Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader (R.KY.) announced that the Senate will delay its summer recess for two weeks. The AP (7/11, Taylor) reported that McConnell promised “to wrap up” the Senate’s ACA repeal bill “next week, but a number of neglected items have been left in health care’s wake as that bill has been repeatedly delayed.” The article adds, “Little progress has been made on other legislation, and the Kentucky Republican says the chamber would work on the annual defense policy measure and, perhaps, must-do legislation to increase the government’s borrowing authority.”

The revised health care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), is expected to be released today. According to several sources, the revised bill will retain some of the Affordable Care Act’s penalties on high-income households: a 3.8% tax on net investment income and a 0.9% payroll tax. The bill’s details, sent to the Congressional Budget Office for an official assessment, assumes the taxes remain in place, one GOP aide said. (Both taxes only apply to individuals with incomes above $200,000 and married couples making over $250,000.) Apparently, retaining these taxes will add about $230 billion in revenue over 10 years that can be used to address concerns raised by Republican Senators who are still on fence about voting for the bill. However, it is unclear is how Senator McConnell will keep the conservatives’ votes for the bill, since they have been united against the idea of retaining any of the ACA’s taxes.

Additionally, the ACA replacement bill in the House, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) would repeal the 3.8% investment tax retroactively for 2017 and end the 0.9% payroll tax starting in 2023.

So it seems that the Senate will be spending the first three weeks of August in Washington, DC. As a native of the area, I can attest that they will be in for a “hot” time, wrestling with both the controversial health bill and the hot, humid DC weather!

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