- The U.S. Senate spent most of the overnight on January 10 and 11 in a series of votes designed to serve as the first step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
NECA’s Look Ahead:
If all Senators vote as expected, a budget resolution setting the stage for a follow up ACA repeal bill would be narrowly adopted and head to the House for potential final approval. Republican leaders initially discussed setting an ACA repeal over the course of years in the future, with a replacement to be enacted by that date. However, Members of the Senate and House, with apparent agreement from President-elect Donald Trump, have Congressional leaders looking for a near-simultaneous repeal and enactment of a new health-care law several weeks or months into the new administration. The budget resolution, S. Con. Res. 3, sets a January 27 target for writing the first Obamacare replacement bill. As a side note, NECA sent a letter to all 100 Senators to oppose an amendment by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) that would have eliminated the application of the Davis-Bacon Act on all federal construction projects. Ultimately, the amendment was not considered for a vote.
- On Wednesday the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a nomination hearing for Elaine L. Chao to be the 18th Secretary of Transportation. Chao was introduced to the committee by her husband, Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY), and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). Secretary Chao has had a distinguished career serving as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation under George H.W. Bush and the Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush. While serving as Secretary of Labor, Ms. Chao addressed the NECA Political Leadership Council (PLC) meeting in 2006.
NECA’s Look Ahead:
NECA was proud to write a letter of support which was entered into the record by Senator John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the committee. NECA believes Secretary Chao is exceptionally qualified for this position and is well prepared to handle the complex issues facing our nation’s infrastructure. Top priories for the incoming Secretary will be the implementation of President-Elect Trump’s infrastructure reinvestment plan, along with FAA Reauthorization. Secretary Chao is considered to be President Elect Trump’s least controversial cabinet nominee. Considering Secretary Chao’s qualifications and previous cabinet experience, she is expected to be swiftly confirmed on inauguration day. We look forward to working with Secretary Chao in the coming months to develop long term solutions to the problems facing our nation’s infrastructure.
- Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) held a press conference to mark the re-introduction of S. 58, a bill which would repeal the Cadillac tax. A House companion bill, the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2017 (H.R. 173), was introduced on January 3 by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT). The House Bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee for consideration.
NECA’s Look Ahead:
This NECA-supported legislation is an important bipartisan and bicameral effort to end this excessive burden on employers providing quality benefits for their employees. The reintroduction of these two bills to repeal the Cadillac tax is a promising start to the new Congress. Currently there are a few vehicles for which a full repeal would be possible. The bills for repeal can be attached to the Affordable Care Act repeal bill that is expected to be presented to President-Elect Trump shortly after his inauguration. Alternatively, the bills could become part of the House’s comprehensive tax reform package, which will be taken up later this spring.