In The News
POLITICO: SENATE DEALMAKING AS OBAMACARE REPEAL TEETERS – McConnell still pushing for vote this week – GOP INFIGHTING THREATENS HOUSE BUDGET – Conyers, Lujan under Ethics scrutiny
THE LATEST: MONEY TO BURN — With the Senate Obamacare repeal effort on the brink of defeat, dealmakers at the White House and on Capitol Hill are looking at ways to sweeten the pot for enough holdout senators to get the bill back on track. Following Monday’s CBO score, leaders have about $188 billion in savings they can divvy up toward individual senator’s priorities. Possible changes include “more spending for health savings accounts to appease conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee …and some additional Medicaid and opioid spending for moderates,” report Josh Dawsey and Burgess.
Cash me on the side: “One Senate aide said that Tuesday would be ‘all about side deals,’ and another person familiar with the discussions said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) had already begun talking about private deals,” they report. Republicans have spent years hammering Democrats for using “back room deals” to secure support for Obamacare. But the Senate GOP process has been even more secretive and that’s unlikely to change since McConnell is still pushing hard for a repeal vote this week. More: http://politi.co/2shm1MP
Running for the hills: The CBO’s Monday afternoon estimate – 22 million more people would be uninsured over the next decade under the Senate bill – was enough to convince several on-the-fence senators to oppose even bringing the bill to the floor. “As of right now at least four GOP senators -- Susan Collins (Maine), Rand Paul (Ky.), Dean Heller (Nevada) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) -- have signaled they could oppose a key procedural vote that will occur either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday,” Burgess and Jen Haberkorn report. A number of other senators are undecided.
Dinner is served: Remember, McConnell and his team can only lose two senators and still move the bill forward. President Donald Trump called a handful of undecided senators before the CBO score. And Vice President Mike Pence will be trying to convince conservatives to back the repeal during dinner at his place tonight, Eliana Johnson and Seung Min scooped. But first, senators will meet for their weekly Tuesday lunch and a gut check on where things stand. Pence will be in attendance. Burgess and Jen with the full wrap up: http://politi.co/2shaWM0. And more Obamacare repeal news down below.
MEANWHILE, OVER IN THE HOUSE… A fight between House GOP chairmen has forced Budget Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) to halt plans to unveil the committee’s sweeping fiscal blueprint this week and pushed backed long-awaited hopes of a markup until at least July, Sarah Ferris and Rachael report this morning. Black isn’t giving up totally but she has a lot of work to do convincing the strongest holdouts like Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) to get on board. "Without a budget, Republicans can’t unlock the procedural tool that would allow them to write a filibuster-proof tax reform overhaul."
Things seemed to be on track over the weekend after Black reached a tentative deal with defense hawks on Pentagon spending after weeks of wrangling. “But several committee chairmen are now balking at the second part of the deal: a promise of about $50 billion in additional cuts to mandatory programs to make those very defense increases more digestible for conservatives,” Sarah and Rachael report. If GOP leaders decided to push a “shell” budget instead of a full budget resolution to enable tax reform, “a lot of members are going to revolt on that,” said one GOP budget source. Much more: http://politi.co/2shoeI0
WELCOME TO TUESDAY, JUNE 27, and thanks for reading POLITICO’s Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill. Can you guys believe it’s almost July?
MONDAY’S MOST CLICKED: The video of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) getting down with his bad self at a Brooklyn block party got all the clicks (I mean, duh, of course it did).
DEMS DIVIDED OVER HELLER RESPONSE — Democrats are divided over how to respond to Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller’s searing critique of his party’s Obamacare repeal plan and threats to vote against the proposal. Super PAC American Bridge and Emily’s List immediately began attacking Heller as “cowardly” and “utterly spineless.” The vulnerable GOP senator is also facing attack ads from pro-Trump group America First Policies. But some Obamacare backers say “attacking one of the few Republicans likely to break ranks feels disturbingly off-key,” Kyle and Elana report. More on the party divide: http://politi.co/2shrDa7
Oops: A small plane was spotted flying a banner above Charleston, W.V., Monday urging the state’s GOP senator to vote “no” vote on the Obamacare repeal bill. The only problem? The banner was directed at Heller, not West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito. Kenny Kemp of the Charleston Gazette-Mail captured the pic, which was tweeted out by Rob Byers, the paper’s executive editor: http://bit.ly/2tc4klU
MORE OBAMACARE REPEAL NEWS: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) weighs in on members worried about 2018 blowback: “Whether or not we can communicate in the fog of the moment is not as important as: Do our policies make a difference and do they solve the problem? And, the answer is, ‘yes.' And, that's why we have to see it through,” he told the Washington Examiner’s David Drucker. More: http://washex.am/2shU1sA
Mum’s the word: “After waging an aggressive and extensive public war against the House health care legislation when it was released several months ago, [Sen. Tom] Cotton has kept almost entirely quiet about the Senate version, even as other senators announce their opposition and make public demands for changes that could earn their support,” James Arkin reports for RealClearPolitics. More: http://bit.ly/2shK4vf
Which senators can make or break GOP repeal efforts, from the AP’s Erica Werner: The conservatives … the endangered … the moderates … the two-issue senators. Read: http://apne.ws/2shjXV2
CONYERS, LUJAN FACE ETHICS SCRUTINY — Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), chair of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, are both under review by the Ethics Committee, the panel disclosed Monday. The Ethics Committee review of Lujan was spurred by a complaint filed by a right-leaning group over fundraising after Democrats’ gun-control sit-in last year. Conyers’ review, meanwhile, relates to his interaction with a former top aide who pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property, Bres and Rachael report. Both lawmakers strongly deny any wrongdoing.
Michael Collins, chief of staff for Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), is also under investigation by the panel. “The Ethics Committee has another 45 days to decide to go ahead with full investigations or handle the cases in another manner.” More: http://politi.co/2shp5sc
QUOTE DU JOUR: “It's not the first or the last time my tweets will get me in trouble,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to CNN on tweeting she’d never met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when photos later proved they’d been at the same events. “I should've been careful about the 140 characters and given it context," she added. FYI, McCaskill runs her own Twitter account. Manu Raju with more: http://cnn.it/2shgOVu
CORKER TO BLOCK FUTURE ARMS SALES — “Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker on Monday said he would block future U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and four other Gulf nations until a regional conflict is resolved,” Elana reports. The Tennessee Republican made the announcement in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday. The Senate narrowly defeated a proposal earlier this month to block about $500 in administration arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Elana: http://politi.co/2shFqxj
OSSOFF SPEAKS: LESSONS FROM GEORGIA — “Grass-roots politics, linking small-dollar fundraising to massive local volunteer organization, showed that it can rival the power of a right-wing machine comprising super PACs backed by entrenched interests and mega-donors,” Jon Ossoff writes in an op-ed for the Washington Post. More: http://wapo.st/2shqFux
HANDY BOOKMARK: DEMS PATH TO MAJORITY — You’ll hear a common refrain from House Democrats looking to add a silver lining to going 0-for-4 in the special elections: There are roughly 70 even more competitive districts they’re eyeing in 2018 and they only need to win 24 to take back the House. The Upshot’s Nate Cohn breaks down those seats into eight categories and where he thinks to watch, and why, in the coming months: http://nyti.ms/2tbYPDU
TODAY IN CONGRESS — The House meets at 10 a.m. with first votes around 1:30 p.m. and last votes around 4 p.m. Today’s agenda: http://bit.ly/2shpT0B. The Senate gavels in at 2 p.m. with no votes scheduled.
AROUND THE HILL — Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) take questions from reporters after the weekly Republican meeting at 10 a.m. in HC-8.
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) hosts UN Secretary-General António Guterres at 10 a.m. in 2200 Rayburn. House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Linda Sánchez (Calif.) and Reps. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) hold a press conference after the caucus meeting at 10:15 a.m. in HVC Studio A.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) holds his weekly pen and pad at 11 a.m. in H-144. Senate Democrats and Republicans hold their separate weekly caucus lunches from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m. with leadership press conferences after.
Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar, (D-Minn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) hold a press conference on the Senate GOP’s Obamacare repeal at 11 a.m. in SVC-201.
Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) participate in a corporate tax reform briefing hosted by the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute at 11:30 a.m. in 2168 Rayburn.
Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), John Conyers (D-Mich.) Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and several other lawmakers participate in an Islamic Relief USA luncheon hosted from 12 p.m. -1:30 p.m. in 2043 Rayburn celebrating the end of Ramadan.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Reps. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) meet with Medicaid patients and their families at the Children’s National Medical Center. The group will address the press at 1 p.m., following the tour, across the street from the hospital.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) holds a news conference on auditing the Pentagon at 1 p.m. in the House triangle. Reps. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.) and Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and several other lawmakers hold a 2:30 p.m. press conference in HVC Studio A on the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force’s legislative agenda.
MONDAY’S TRIVIA WINNER — Wayne Berman was the first to guess that former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and the late Sen. Arlen Specter both attended Russell High School Kansas. Dole graduated in 1941 and Specter graduated in 1947.
TODAY’S TRIVIA — Wayne with today’s question: President Obama is the first former president to live as a private citizen in Washington after leaving the White House since Woodrow Wilson. Who was the last president to live as a private citizen in D.C. before he was elected president? The first person to correctly answer gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send answers my way: email@example.com