1 year ago

GOP Healthcare Bill Opposed From Many Angles

While party leaders hailed the long-awaited GOP alternative to Obamacare after its unveiling in early March, negative reactions swiftly piled up from across the political spectrum.

Opposition from Democrats was expected, as the left continues to vow it will staunchly oppose any attempt to repeal the ACA or weaken its key provisions. Accordingly, any reasonable legislative effort requires a bill that can pass with zero Democratic support, hence the House bill’s reliance on using budget reconciliation procedures to pass both chambers.

But while pushback from the left was expected, congressional leadership seemed surprised as the week’s events played out and it became clear that the truly fatal opposition to the bill may come from fellow Republicans.

Medicaid and Planned Parenthood Drives Moderate Opposition

Within the Capitol, the most explicit concerns have been raised by Republican senators nervous about rolling back the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, and those who reject the bill’s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.

On March 6, Senators Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Shelley Capito and Cory Gardner sent a letter to Mitch McConnell outlining their objections to Medicaid cuts, writing, “While we support efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and make structural reforms to the Medicaid program, we are concerned that the February 10th draft proposal from the House of Representatives does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or the necessary flexibility for states.”

Such objections have also been raised by several Republican state governors, most notably John Kasich of Ohio, who issued a Twitter statement that said he supports repealing Obamacare, but, “Phasing out Medicaid coverage without a viable alternative is counterproductive[.]”

Meanwhile, both Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have indicated they likely won’t vote for any bill that includes cuts to Planned Parenthood.

Tea Party Pushback

From the other side of the party’s political landscape, congressional caucuses with roots in the Tea Party movement have slammed the bill as being insufficiently conservative, and decry its failure to completely repeal the ACA’s tenets.

The House Freedom Caucus held a press conference laying out their position, as Representative Mark Meadows said, “You have to get rid of Obamacare completely.”

Jim Jordan of Ohio followed up, saying, “The leadership plan is Obamacare in a different form.”

Caucus members plan to reintroduce their own repeal bill, with the same language as previous bills passed by Congress under the Obama administration.

While not explicitly affiliated with the Freedom Caucus, Senator Rand Paul has also been a strong voice against the legislation, and infamously spent the week before its release hunting for the “secret bill” in the Senate’s back hallways.

Industry Speaks Out

While they won’t have a vote, a variety of industry organizations affiliated with health care or its recipients have also come out in full force against the bill. The American Medical Association (AMA), American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association and American Association of Retired People (AARP) have all slammed the possibility of a steep dive in coverage rates that they say will result.

AMA President Dr. Andrew Gurman said, “By replacing income-based premium subsidies with age-based tax credits, the AHCA will also make coverage more expensive—if not out of reach—for poor and sick Americans.”

Meanwhile, the AARP says the proposals will sharply increase costs for senior citizens, and slammed the proposed age-banding mechanism as, “Washington politician speak for overcharging older Americans for their health insurance while lining the insurance companies’ pockets.”

The legislation is currently working its way through various committees and the amendment process before being brought to the floors of both chambers for a full vote.


6 mins ago

7 Things: Republicans heading towards huge spending bill, Congressman Rogers unfairly attacked, Sen. Jones speaks on gun control, and more …

1. President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans decide to spend more, without even reading or debating the bill

— Trump on Wednesday threw his support behind a $1.3 trillion spending bill, defying House conservatives and handing a victory to GOP congressional leaders.

— The bill will include $641 million border fencing and also is expected to include $1.296 billion in funding new border technology, but no larger immigration agreement was reached.

2. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) becomes a target of dishonest activists and lazy journalists

— Rogers was making a joke about the Southern accent of a speaker at a committee hearing “not having an accent” because the two were the only Southerners there, everyone laughed, and now people are feigning offense.

— He made a similar joke in 2015 at an event in North Dakota, but that didn’t stop The Anniston Star’s Phillip Tutor from tweeting, “Well, Saks’ own has a thing against people with accents, apparently”


3. Sen. Doug Jones uses first floor speech to talk about gun violence, he proceeded to straddle the fence

— In a speech filled with lofty rhetoric, Jones said we must have the “courage to seize this moment” and work together.

— He proposed making background checks universal, including on internet sales, at gun shows and even private sales, as well as implementing three-day waiting periods.

4. Trump White House continues to leak, Chief of Staff John Kelly launches an investigation

— Someone close to the president leaked a document that told Trump that he should not offer Putin “congratulations” on his questionable election win.

— The leak has been called a “fireable offense” and Kelly is working to find out who the leak was.

5. State Representative Will Ainsworth says his bill to allow teachers to carry will not pass this session

— With very little time left in this election year’s legislative session, the issue of allowing teachers to carry could not get addressed in the time allotted, no school safety related bills have passed.

— Ainsworth says he is going to ask Gov. Kay Ivey to call a special session this summer on school safety to address this and other related issues.

6. Austin bomber‘s motive and ideology still a mystery

— The serial bomber’s name was identified as 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt, who lived 20 miles from Austin with 2 roommates who were both questioned by police.

— Authorities still don’t know what motivated Conditt and added, “We don’t know where this suspect has spent his last 24 hours, and therefore we still need to remain vigilant to ensure that no other packages or devices have been left throughout the community”.

7. Theme park scammer who claimed he was building a venue 10 times the size of Disneyland in Florence found guilty

— An Alabama grifter has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and was ordered to repay his investors, for a ridiculous theme park scam that netted him over seven million dollars.

— The scam bilked over 40 people, and proposed a 1,400-acre amusement park in the Shoals area of northwest Alabama; this obviously did not happen.

21 mins ago

Scott Dawson on what Alabama needs — ‘It is not another politician’

Evangelist Scott Dawson stopped by the Ford Faction on Wednesday to talk about his run governor, and how we have too many politicians and not enough leaders in Montgomery.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

35 mins ago

Alabama Senate votes to track civil asset forfeiture cases

The Alabama Senate has voted to track how often law enforcement authorities use civil actions to seize a person’s property when the person hasn’t been convicted of a crime.

Senators on Wednesday voted 25-1 for the bill. It now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.

Civil asset forfeiture is the practice of law enforcement seizing property through a civil action for suspected criminal activity. Republican Sen. Arthur Orr had originally sought to require a criminal conviction for property seizures.


Advocates argued the practice was abused and government should not take a person’s property without a criminal conviction.

The revamped bill tracks cases instead of banning or altering the practice. Prosecutors and law enforcement authorities argued the civil seizures are a valuable crime-fighting tool and people had due process.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

1 hour ago

Border patrol agents won’t turn over illegal aliens with felony warrants to California police

U.S. Border Patrol agents are now refusing to turn over criminal illegal aliens with felony warrants to police in California due to uncertainty that local authorities will return the illegal aliens to federal custody.

Chief patrol agent in the patrol’s San Diego sector, Rodney Scott, said that California’s state sanctuary law was undermining cooperation between his agency and local law enforcement.


In a declaration issued March 6 in support of the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against California, Scott revealed multiple instances where a Border Patrol agent in the San Diego sector determined the ineffectiveness of turning a criminal alien over to local law enforcement because they would likely release them without notifying federal authorities.

“In each instance, the Border Patrol Agent determined it was not appropriate, consistent with his or her federal responsibilities to ensure the enforcement of immigration law, to release a criminal alien to the state and local law enforcement,” said Scott.

He continued saying, “This was because, although the alien was subject to removal, if released to California law enforcement, the alien would ultimately be released into the public.”

The declaration largely placed blame on the California Values Act, the sanctuary state law that began this year. The law that was largely supported by California Democrats, sometimes referred to as SB 54, restricts and limits communication from local law enforcement officers to federal immigration authorities. Perhaps the most troubling part of the law is that it prevents many federal immigration authorities from knowing when criminal aliens are released from local jails and such.

The SB 54 law, which is disobeying federal law and making an impact on communication efforts, was among the three laws challenged by the Department of Justice in its lawsuit against California. The DOJ argues that that the sanctuary laws warrant “significant intrusion into federal enforcement of the immigration laws.”

One example in the declaration described the El Cajon Police Department’s refusal to assist Border Patrol agents in pursuing three suspects who fled a vehicle after several requests from Border Patrol dispatch.

“After the event, it was determined that the officer declined the request to assist presuming it was an immigration matter, as opposed to a fleeing subject whose identity/immigration status was not known at the time of the incident … This declination for assistance occurred even though it involved a vehicle that failed to yield, endangering federal law enforcement and the public while traveling on a California Interstate and highway within their jurisdiction,” Scott wrote in the declaration.

Scott says this affects communication efforts and stymies the ability to observe human smuggling and other crimes.

Scott said, “If employers are not able to provide such consensual access, Border Patrol’s ability to detect and interdict real time illegal activity, ranging from criminal activity to the smuggling of narcotics to potential terrorists seeking to enter the United States, along the border will be diminished.”

Kyle Morris is a senior at the University of Alabama and a Yellowhammer News contributor. He also writes for The Daily Caller.

Follow Kyle on Twitter: @RealKyleMorris

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1 hour ago

Alabama Legislature update: Gun bills, the budget, equal pay and ethics

The Alabama Legislature on Wednesday killed gun legislation, passed a budget and contemplated the pay disparity between men and women.

In addition, a controversial proposal to exempt economic development officials from lobbying laws advanced. The passage of the general fund budget is a sign the 2018 session is gliding toward a close.

Here is a look at the major events in the state capital on Wednesday:


The big story: Gun control and school safety proposals are dead for 2018.

Noting that a bill to allow some teachers and administrators to carry guns on campus failed to come up for a vote Tuesday, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) on Wednesday blamed Democrats.

“Although the bill was in a position to be considered yesterday, the Democratic opponents of the legislation were prepared to lock down the chamber to prevent its approval,” he said in a statement. “There was also a great deal of misinformation being distributed to educators, school administrators, law enforcement agencies, and parents that needed to be corrected. I can offer a personal guarantee that this issue will be revisited when the Legislature convenes its next session.”

The bill would have allowed school employees who volunteered and passed training requirements to carry guns in schools. It drew intense opposition from education groups, as well as some teachers and parents.

State Rep. Will Ainsworth (R-Guntersville), who sponsored the bill, expressed anger Wednesday. He said in a statement that he is confident the legislation had widespread support among the GOP majority.

“The pro-gun control filibuster efforts of House Democrats have put our children and teachers in danger and leave them helpless if an active shooter situation occurs,” he said in the statement. “Signs reading ‘Gun Free Zone’ are a magnet for those who wish to do harm, so we must allow teachers to defend themselves with something more lethal than a ruler and a No. 2 pencil.”

Meanwhile on Wednesday, most Republican members of a legislative committee forced adjournment for lack of a quorum by skipping a debate on a proposal to raise the age to buy semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15, according to the Associated Press.

Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham), who sponsored the bill to raise the age of purchase, criticized her no-show Republican colleagues.

“Vote it up or vote it down,” she said, according to the AP. “Don’t be cowards. … You can’t show up at the meeting to at least have a conversation?”

Budget passes: The Alabama Senate approved a general fund budget that gives more money to the state’s troubled prison system, the Medicaid program and allows for a raise for state workers, according to AL.com.

The vote accepted changes the state House of Representatives had made to the spending plan for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Gov. Kay Ivey’s signature is all that is needed for it to become law.

According to AL.com, the $2 billion budget tops the current year’s blueprint by some $167 million.

Specifics include:

  • $755 million for Medicaid. Although that is a $54 million increase over the current year, the agency actually will receive less overall because it benefited this year from a one-time $105 million cash infusion from
  • the BP oil spill settlement.$472 million for the Department of Corrections, a $56 million h
  • ike over this year. The prison system also is getting an additional $30
  • million this year thanks to a separate supplemental bill that lawmakers passed.A 3 percent cost-of-living-adjustment from s
  • tate employees, the first pay raise in a decade.$118 million for the Department of Mental Health, a $9 million increase.$52 million for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, a $3.2 million increase that will pay for 30 additional state troopers.

Equal pay? A proposal by Rep. Adline Clarke (D-Mobile) to address the gender wage gap got a hearing in Montgomery in Wednesday but has little chance of becoming law this year, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

Clarke’s bill would require men and women with the same experience be paid the same salary. Employers would have to demonstrate a difference in quality or performance to justify paying a female employee less, and companies would be prohibited from retaliating against employees who filed an action under the statute.

Beyond the question of how much support the proposal has in the Republican-dominated Legislature, there likely simply is enough time in the session to push a bill from start to finish before lawmakers go home for the year.

But Clarke is not giving up.

“I believe in miracles,” she told the Advertiser after the House State Government Committee adjourned. “I am hopeful this bill can pass.”

The newspaper reported that the National Partnership for Women and Families crunched census data and concluded that women in Alabama earn 76 cents on the dollar compared with what men make.

Ethics exemption: A Senate committee voted 10-2 in favor of a bill that would exempt economic developers from some rules governing lobbying, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

But the paper reported that the bill, which already has passed the House of Representatives, could face a major fight on the Senate floor.

Proponents argue that requiring employees engaged in economic development to register as lobbyists could harm negotiations with out-of-state businesses.

“This is an important bill for economic development,” Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) told the Senate Financial Responsibility and Economic Development Committee.

Opponents argue that the definition of “economic development official” is far too broad.

Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Pike Road) told the Advertiser he would filibuster the bill on the floor “if that’s what it takes.”

No term limits: The Alabama Senate shot down a proposal to let voters decide whether legislators should be limited to three terms, according to the Associated Press.

The 15-9 procedural vote halted efforts to bring proposed constitutional amendment to a the floor.

State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) who is running for governor, told the AP that legislators should be held to the same limits that restrict the state’s top office.

Legislators “think we’re on some private island with special privileges,” he said.

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Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.