The Senate was not in session on Friday, but the House of Representatives met to consider Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton’s bill to allow consumers to keep their insurance plans if they had been cancelled due to Obamacare. The bill easily passed the House 261-157, with 39 Democrats joining the Republican majority. House Democratic leaders offered their own version of the plan under a motion to recommit with instructions, but it was defeated. The Upton plan moves to the Senate, where there are already Democratic-sponsored bills like it. The President has said that he would veto the House bill.
One of the big questions in the run up to the debate over the Upton bill was how many Democrats would side with the Republicans. Most people expected some Democrats in competitive districts to support the Republican plan in the face of widespread constituent anger over Obamacare’s failures. It’s kind of like déjà vu for the Dems, since the healthcare reform doomed a number of them in the 2010 elections. To add insult to injury, a number of the rejected voted against the law. But how are they doing now, National Journal asks.
Another big question about the President’s Obamacare fix is whether it is legal. The health insurance plans have been dropped pursuant to the law. The President is proposing to allow the insurance companies to continue offering the plans, on the grounds that the Executive Branch has certain flexibility in enforcement of the law. Opponents argue that he is changing the law, which is a legislative prerogative of the Congress.
Although Washington’s been perpetually divided on Obamacare, thankfully, there is something everyone can agree on: saving the Federal monkeys. Basically, the government owns around 300 chimpanzees, which the National Institutes of Health (NIH) uses for research, but a law over a decade old has limited the NIH’s spending on them. With the program close to running out of money for the monkeys, they needed Congress to pass a law to come to their aid. Now the monkeys will enjoy a retirement in special chimpanzee sanctuaries. The monkey-sanctuary fix was not at all controversial, but it normally would have been disposed of in an appropriations bill as part of the budget process, a procedure that has become intense and bitter over the years. In other words, it’s a symbol of the effects of Washington’s inability to govern.
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