CPI’s Weekly Compass for October 10, 2017

CPI Staff — Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Here are the top stories conservatives are following this week:

What’s Really Happening

Conservative frustration builds over Senate GOP inaction
As Republicans enter October, with no major policy victories passing Congress, conservatives have turned their attention to the backlog of Trump nominees still stuck in the Senate. Politico reports that the Judicial Crisis Network is considering a six figure ad buy criticizing the Senate leadership failure to move nominees, even as Democrats are without the ability to filibuster. Additionally, the article reports that over 100 conservatives are joining on a Conservative Action Project letter which states:

“The United States Senate behaves as though there are no time limits and no urgency to these matters. They are wrong and we cannot overstate the frustration and growing concern with the Republican Senate leadership for its failure during this entire year to do its work,” the Conservative Action Project wrote in its memo.

So what’s behind the nominee backlog? CPI’s Rachel Bovard explains, as the House is working this week, but the Senate is on another weeklong vacation:

“[O]ver 200 of Trump’s nominees are awaiting confirmation in the Senate, suffering long waiting processes that encourage partisan attacks, having their religious beliefs subject to ridicule, and having to sit idly by while Obama nominees obstruct the implementation of the president’s agenda across the government. Nearly a year into President Trump’s term, he’s received less than half the number of confirmations that either President Obama or Bush had at a similar time. The blame for this does not lie at the feet of the Democrats, who have no viable or lasting means of challenging these nominations.

“The real reason that Congress can’t get anything done is because the McConnell Senate only works 2.5 days per week… On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Senate joins the rest of America and shows up for a full workday. But then? It’s TGI Thursday. Between March and October, the Senate finished work for the week each Thursday by 2:30 p.m., on average, but sometimes as early as 12 p.m. It gets worse. Since March, the McConnell Senate has only worked on two Fridays.”

As Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton noted, the Senate ended its work last week around 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 6. They don’t plan to reconvene for a full day of work until Tuesday, October 17, an 11 day vacation unconnected to any major holiday. And as Senator Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) noted, one of the few times the Senate has worked extra hours, Democrats agreed to pass numerous nominees.

Trump to free Americans from more Obamacare regulations
President Trump announced on Tuesday his intention to use executive powers to ease burdens of Obamacare and Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) believes it will focus on expanding association health plans. Wall Street Journal has the details on a possible executive order:

“The order is aimed at expanding insurance options for Americans who buy coverage on their own or work for a small employer, and would include broad instructions for agencies to explore ways to loosen regulations and potentially lower premiums, as well as looking at three specific areas of health insurance.

“… The president also will order the agencies to start winding back an Obama-era rule curbing coverage known as ‘short-term medical insurance,’ a low-cost but limited-protection option, and allow people to once again buy those plans for up to a year, the official said … In addition, the executive order would order agencies to expand health reimbursement accounts, employer-funded arrangements that employees can use to pay out-of-pocket medical costs and premiums.

“… The three moves would represent the most substantive step the White House has taken to date in paring back Affordable Care Act rules using administrative powers. They don’t go as far as many critics of the law would like but are likely to be followed by other steps, administration officials said.”

Chris Jacobs notes other measures Trump can take: “[T]he administration can take action it should have taken months ago: Restoring constitutional order by stopping the unilateral payment of cost-sharing reduction subsidies to insurers. Congress could also repeal the individual mandate penalty, allowing those who wish to purchase non-compliant short-term plans rather than taxing them for not buying costly Obamacare coverage.”

Policy Perspectives

Conservative Calendar

*Full list of all major conservative conferences around the country in 2017-2018 available at CPI’s blog.

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