Vote Notes: AHCA Markup, H.R. 1181, & Privatizing Air Traffic Control
Today has been something of a wild day here on Capitol Hill. There is much to report.
Of greatest significance was the vote in the House Budget Committee GOP. The committee voted to send the American Health Care Act - House leadership’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bill - to the House floor. I was joined by two other Republicans and fellow members of the House Freedom Caucus, Congressman Dave Brat and Congressman Gary Palmer, in voting against the motion.
Since last week, when a number of us held a press conference in front of the Capitol on the importance of changes to the American Health Care Act, conservatives in the House have been looking for ways to get to yes. It is the squeaky wheels though that get greased in politics. If you don’t object, they simply move the bill as it is.
In fact, it’s been interesting to watch Speaker Ryan’s evolution over the past week on the bill itself. On March 9th, he said the bill would not be amended and that it would be a straight up or down vote. But because of resistance from conservatives, he said yesterday that we can make necessary improvements and refinements to the bill.
This very much fits with what the president has said all along, as he has labeled it “a big, fat, beautiful negotiation.” Secretary Price has called it a “work in progress.”
The point in these hold-out votes is that while they’re not fun, they are necessary to improving the bill. Indeed, that’s why I said at our press conference that I viewed leadership’s original bill as the starting point in a negotiation. My point then was that President Donald J. Trump would never take the first offer in a real estate deal, and we shouldn’t either. This is particularly the case given the way that there have not been the traditional congressional hearings and debate that you would see in an issue as big as healthcare.
The point in all of this is that the Affordable Care Act is not sustainable and is not working for the majority of people who help pay for it in the individual insurance marketplace. I am pushing for change, but in this rush to get a bill, I think that it’s important that the conservative principles that I believe in - and that so many at home who sent me to Washington to represent their point of view believe in - should not be erased in the headlong rush to get a “political win” and the headlines that say healthcare got dealt with. What people want to see is a drop in their premiums and greater choices in the way in which they can buy insurance. If Republicans’ reform does not do this, I think a lot of people will be upset, given their need for remedy.
In my continued laundry list of issues for the day, this evening the House voted on H.R. 1181, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, and it passed 240 to 175.
This bill would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from submitting veterans’ names to the FBI simply because they are not managing their own benefits. This vote was similar to one that had occurred earlier, wherein the Social Security Administration was unilaterally attempting to take from people a constitutional right because someone was not administering their own paperwork. Our Founding Fathers set up a system of checks and balances and with something as significant as constitutional rights, it’s vital that we adhere to them.
Finally, in the news today, there was brief discussion of a portion of the president’s proposed budget that would privatize the Air Traffic Control system in this country. This provision was taken from the bill that the Transportation Committee, that I sit on, marked up last year. We will have another bite at the apple on this proposal this year, but it was encouraging to see the president come out in support of what we’ve been trying to do on this front. I say this because I have long believed that that which only government can do, government should do...but that which can be done by the private sector should be left to the private sector. In the case of Air Traffic Control systems, there are a host of examples around the world wherein this activity has been well-handled by the private sector, and I believe that it’s something that could work here.