Congressional Corner

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Nov. 16, 2017

Senate Tax Proposal and Individual Mandate

On Nov. 14, Senate Republicans included a repeal of ACA’s individual mandate along with a measure to stabilize the insurance markets by funding cost-sharing reduction payments and increasing state flexibility in their tax reform proposal.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that over a decade the repeal of the individual mandate could increase the number of uninsured by 13 million and increase premiums by 10 percent in most years. However, this could also save the federal government $338 billion. The CBO also reports that most markets would remain stable.

House Appropriations Update

Congressional leaders indicate they will likely pass another short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government beyond Dec. 8. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) says the CR will last a matter of weeks rather than months.

Senate Appropriations Update

Sen. Cochran (R-MS) issued a statement today stating his preference for Congress to develop a budget deal to finish work on appropriations: “Congress and the administration must reach agreement on acceptable top-line funding levels for defense and non-defense programs. The current continuing resolution expires on Dec. 8 and we cannot afford to extend that CR into next year.”

Surgeon General Testifies in Senate Hearing

On Nov. 15, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in a hearing entitled “Encouraging Healthy Communities: Perspective from the Surgeon General.”

You can read his testimony here.

Hurricane Response Hearing

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held an oversight hearing to examine ongoing recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). This hearing focused on rebuilding a more resilient electric grid in Puerto Rico and the USVI. Many senators recently visited the island and noted that the destruction is evident and that their first priority is restoring electricity. Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) said she is deeply concerned about the impact of lack of electricity on health, including mental health. Sen. Cantwell (D-WA) said that the federal government must do more because people are struggling to receive even the most basic needs, such as water.

The committee received testimony from U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Reliability Bruce WalkerMajor General Donald E. Jackson, Jr., of the Army Corps of Engineers, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Executive Director Ricardo Ramos, Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Executive Director and CEO Julio Rhymer, Sr., as well as Puerto Rico Energy Commission Acting Chairman José Román Morales, PE, and Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico Executive Director Natalie Jaresko.

More information and the archived webcast can be found here.