Washington Update - July 17, 2017

Billy Moore    Dc2

Senate leaders were again forced to postpone a vote scheduled for this week on Obamacare repeal and replacement. House leaders are scrambling to move a fiscal 2018 budget out of committee, now three months late. House appropriators are exploring a strategy to pass a fiscal 2018 omnibus spending package this month. The House passed a defense authorization last week as the Senate confirmed three of President Donald Trump's nominees.

Senate Republicans revealed a new proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare on Thursday that maintains some Obamacare taxes, cuts Medicaid funds and allows insurers to sell plans below minimum coverage requirements. After promising a vote this week, they postponed the vote because they do not yet have the votes to bring it to the floor. The Senate plans to stay in session for the first two weeks of August to work on healthcare, nominations and the debt limit. The House will meet in August only if the Senate passes the Obamacare bill.

House leaders want a committee vote on a fiscal 2018 budget next week, although the plan – and the votes – remains uncertain. Without a budget, appropriators have advanced all 12 annual spending bills. House Republican whips will count votes next week to determine if they can pass the spending bills as one package on a party-line vote the last week of July. The Senate, which needs Democratic votes to pass appropriations, would reject the House package. This week, the House plans work on ozone and pipeline measures.

The House passed a $621.5 billion Defense authorization last week, $150 billion over the 2018 spending cap when off-budget funds are added.

At the White House, President Trump is defending his oldest son over meetings with Russians during the 2016 campaign to discuss damaging information about Hillary Clinton. The scandal impedes the President's ability to advance his agenda in Congress as the calendar for action shortens.