Sunday, January 8, 2017

CHPP Daily Brief: Legislative Snapshot Saturday, January 7, 2017


Our Weekly Legislative Snapshot!
For details . . . see below.

Capitol Hill Prayer Partners
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The Daily Brief:
Legislative Snapshot
Saturday, January 7, 2017

"Standing Together in the Kingdom of God . . .
Under the Cross of Christ"

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Governing Ethics

On the eve of the 115th Congress, House Republicans set in motion plans to correct abuses of power that had been building for almost a decade.

Rewind to when Congress had set up an independent ethics board to correct because of a scandal. One particular aspect of this board was its ability to investigate anonymous claims in the name of whistleblower protections. Members of both parties have wanted to rein in this group.
Given that the ethics board is governed directly by the rules of the House, which are voted on at the beginning of a Congress, that made now the time to move. The mistake Republicans made in their efforts was not announcing their plans ahead of time. If there's one thing the media doesn't like it's "secrecy," so they ran with the story, and Democrats were more than happy to pile on. Add in a Tweet from the President-elect, and the effort was done.
The ethics board remains independent.
In the end, the House still changed some of its rules including stiff penalties for use of images on the House floor.

115th Congress Begins

After locking in its plans for opening day, the House convened and went through its many ceremonies of re-electing Speaker Ryan and passing its updated rules package. Later in the week, the House held a public reading of the Constitution on the House floor. Congress concluded the week by meeting in Joint Session with the Senate to finalize the presidential election results.

In terms of policy substance, the House worked on legislation aimed at Congressional limits on regulation coming from the executive branch and objected to the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 related to Israel. The Senate started work on the fiscal year 2017 budget resolution, aimed squarely at neutering the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Hearing on Russia Cyber Attacks

U.S. spy chief 'resolute' on Russia cyber attack, differs with Trump (Reuters)
The top U.S. intelligence official said on Thursday he was "even more resolute" in his belief that Russia staged cyber attacks on Democrats during the 2016 election campaign, rebuking persistent skepticism from Republican President-elect Donald Trump about whether Moscow was involved.

45th President's Election Final

Friday, January 6, 2017, Congress met in joint session to count electoral votes.


Christians in Congress

Congress remains overwhelmingly Christian as U.S. shifts -survey (Reuters)

The U.S. Congress taking office on Tuesday remains almost as overwhelmingly Christian as it was in the 1960s even while the share of American adults who call themselves Christians has dropped, according to Pew Research Center analysis. A report from the nonpartisan group said that 91 percent of lawmakers in the Republican-dominated 115th Congress described themselves as Christians, down slightly from 95 percent in the 87th Congress in 1961 and 1962, the earliest years for comparable data. By contrast, the portion of American adults who call themselves Christian fell to 71 percent in 2014, the Pew report said. While Pew did not have numbers for the early 1960s, a Gallup survey from that time found that 93 percent of Americans described themselves as Christian. "The most interesting thing is how little Congress has changed over the past several decades, especially in comparison with the general public," Aleksandra Sandstrom, the report's lead author, said in a telephone interview.

Note: This item will also be featured on our Monday edition, as we feel it is so important! Prayers to be included then!

Affordable Care Act

1. Senate Republicans Start Obamacare Repeal Process

Senate Republicans wasted no time Tuesday setting in motion their plan to repeal President Barack Obama's signature health care law. GOP senators intend to strike large portions of the law while avoiding the threat of a Democratic filibuster through a procedural gambit that expedites Senate consideration of the repeal bill. But Democrats aren't going down without a fight. On Tuesday, Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi started the process known as reconciliation. A fiscal 2017 budget resolution the Wyoming Republican unveiled on the first day of the 115th Congress includes instructions to two House and two Senate committees to craft legislation reducing the deficit by $1 billion over the next ten years.

2. GOP wins first Obamacare fight in Senate budget vote

Republicans won the first skirmish in the Obamacare fight Wednesday, voting to begin debating fast-track budget procedures that, if successful, would allow the GOP to kill the 2010 health care law without having to face a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. The 51-48 vote, on the second day of the 115th Congress, underscores how serious Republicans are in making good on their repeal pledge.

3. Senate Advances Budget Resolution With Obamacare Repeal

The Senate on Wednesday voted 51-48 to move ahead in debating a fiscal 2017 budget resolution that would include reconciliation instructions repealing the 2010 health care law. The motion to proceed to the resolution required only a simple majority vote. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky voted no. The Senate is expected to begin debate on the budget resolution later Wednesday and through Thursday, and work on amendments next week. Lawmakers hope to see the budget resolution adopted by both chambers by Jan. 20, when Donald Trump will be sworn in as president, though the president does not need to sign the resolution.

4. Cruz, Lee, Rubio Call on Senate Leaders to Repeal 'as Many Provisions of Obamacare as Possible'

In the letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Majority Whip John Cornyn, and Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, the three Republican senators expressed their support for a 2017 budget resolution that allows Congress to repeal Obamacare using a budget tool called reconciliation. Under reconciliation, legislation needs just 51 votes to pass, and the GOP controls 52 seats in the 115th Congress. Cruz, Lee, and Rubio said they expect the repeal bill to do away with, at a minimum, the components of Obamacare repealed through a reconciliation bill crafted in 2015. That legislation eliminated Obamacare's employer and individual mandates, Medicaid expansion, and Cadillac and medical device taxes.

The bill, which President Barack Obama vetoed, also stripped the government of its authority to run the federal and state-run exchanges. It further decreased the fine for failing to comply with the employer and individual mandates to $0, a provision needed to comply with Senate rules. In addition to eliminating the provisions included in the 2015 reconciliation bill, Cruz, Lee, and Rubio called on Senate GOP leaders to repeal insurance mandates, if they are determined to be eligible for inclusion in reconciliation bill. These mandates include the essential health benefits requirement and the ban on limiting or denying coverage to consumers with pre-existing conditions. The insurance mandates, the senators wrote, are "driving up health insurance costs for millions of Americans."

5.Why Obamacare is unlikely to die a swift death

Congressional Republicans have long boasted that once they claim the reins of power, they will act quickly and decisively to roll back what they view as the most onerous piece of President Obama's domestic agenda: the Affordable Care Act. But their actions starting Tuesday to end Obamacare will be far less sweeping, at least initially, than a full-blown repeal of the law. Democratic opposition and complex Senate rules mean that core pieces of the 2010 health-care overhaul are likely to remain, including the legal framework for the individual mandate and pieces of the state exchanges the law created.

6. Paul pitches Freedom Caucus on alternate plan for ObamaCare, budget

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is trying to gin up House support for his alternative timeline for repealing and replacing ObamaCare. Paul on Thursday huddled with the House Freedom Caucus to discuss his push to block the budget resolution and repeal and replace ObamaCare simultaneously. "At least half of the discussion was that we should have replacement on the same day as repeal," he told reporters.

7. Corker warns against repealing ObamaCare without replacement

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is joining a growing number of Senate Republicans voicing concerns about the GOP's strategy to repeal ObamaCare without a replacement plan.

8. GOP senator: Outline ObamaCare replacement before repeal

Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said Friday that lawmakers should, at the very least, release a framework of their plan to replace ObamaCare before repealing the law. "I think we need a detailed framework that tells the American people, including those who depend on the Affordable Care Act for their coverage, and the insurance industry ... what direction we're headed," Collins told The Hill. She said that in an "ideal situation" lawmakers would repeal and replace ObamaCare simultaneously, but, "absent that," they should release an outline instead of repealing and then making a replacement plan later.

9. GOP senator: Don't link Planned Parenthood to ObamaCare repeal

Moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) is signaling she doesn't want congressional efforts to repeal ObamaCare tied to ending federal funding for Planned Parenthood. "Obviously I'm not happy to hear that the Speaker wants to include defunding of Planned Parenthood, an extremely controversial issue, in the package," Collins told reporters on Thursday. But she stopped short of saying the provision, if included, would force her to vote against the measure, pledging that she would "wait and see what happens."

10. GOP resistance grows to Obamacare repeal without replacement

A growing number of Senate Republicans are resisting the idea of repealing Obamacare without a concrete replacement proposal, complicating GOP plans to move swiftly to undo the health care law. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) started the open, intra-party dissension this week when the libertarian-leaning senator urged Republicans to vote on a replacement plan at the same time they pass a repeal bill. He was followed a day later by hard-line conservative Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), then by the more centrist Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.).

At least a half-dozen GOP senators have now expressed public or private concerns about the party's current trajectory. Their worry: Republicans will be blamed for wreaking havoc on the health care system and causing people to lose their coverage without any assurance they have a superior - or any - plan of their own.

The GOP can only lose two votes in the narrowly-divided Senate once Mike Pence becomes vice president and can break a tie. The package is expected to include a related provision to defund Planned Parenthood, which makes it more difficult for a pair of moderate Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, to support it. People close to Senate Republican leadership believe that they'll ultimately have the votes to get the repeal plan through. Republican lawmakers, they say, will be hard-pressed to vote against killing a law so widely despised by conservatives.

Israel in Congress

1. House condemns U.N. over Israel settlement vote

The House voted overwhelmingly to rebuke the United Nations for passing a resolution that condemned Israeli settlement construction, a bipartisan slap that also targets the Obama administration while signaling a rocky road ahead for U.S.-U.N. relations under soon-to-be-President Donald Trump. The House measure, which passed 342-80 on Thursday, is likely to be followed by a similar, largely symbolic non-binding resolution in the Senate.


Senate Committee Meetings Next Week

Congressional Program Ahead
Week of January 9 through January 13, 2017

Senate Committees
(Committee meetings are open unless otherwise indicated)

Committee on Armed Services: January 10, to hold hearings to examine civilian control of the Armed Forces, 9:30 a.m., SH-216.

January 12, Full Committee, to hold hearings to examine the nomination of James N. Mattis, to be Secretary of Defense; to be immediately followed by a business meeting to consider legislation to provide for an exception to a limitation against appointment of persons as Secretary of Defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the Armed Forces, 9:30 a.m., SD-G50.

Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: January 12, to hold hearings to examine the nomination of Benjamin Carson, of Michigan, to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 10 a.m., SD-538.

Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation: January 11, to hold hearings to examine the nomination of Elaine L. Chao, to be Secretary of Transportation, 10:15 a.m., SR-253.

January 12, Full Committee, to hold hearings to examine the nomination of Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., to be Secretary of Commerce, 10 a.m., SR-253.

Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions: January 11, to hold hearings to examine the nomination of Betsy DeVos, of Michigan, to be Secretary of Education, 10 a.m., SD-430.

Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: January 10, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, to hold hearings to examine's facilitation of online sex trafficking, 10 a.m., SD-342.

January 10, Full Committee, to hold hearings to examine the nomination of General John F. Kelly, USMC (Ret.), to be Secretary of Homeland Security, 3:30 p.m., SD-342.

Committee on the Judiciary: January 10, to hold hearings to examine the nomination of Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, to be Attorney General, Department of Justice, 9:30 a.m., SR-325.

January 11, Full Committee, to continue hearings to examine the nomination of Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, to be Attorney General, Department of Justice, 9:30 a.m., SR-325.

The Legislative Snapshot

The Legislative Snapshot:

A look at activities on the Hill, both completed and in the week ahead

At the end of each week, whenever Congress is in session, Capitol Hill Prayer Partners will bring you this update with news from Capitol Hill that is of interest to intercessors in the Body of Christ.

At times, you may find some items we have already covered in prayer the previous week, but included here in more detail for your continued prayerful consideration.
> > > Please note: on the weeks when Congress will not be in Session, we will not publish a legislative update. Also, because the congressional calendars that are followed by both the House and the Senate do not always align with each other, we will follow the Senate calendar for our own publishing cycle.
We trust that these Snapshots will be a blessing to you, and will help you to remain current and focused upon the many issues that are continually before Congress. By "honing in" on legislation or committee hearings related to Israel, to gay v. traditional marriage, the military, and pro-life agendas, our desire is to help you to be able to "pray in the Spirit, and with understanding" about Congress in the days ahead.
Many Blessings!

Your Daily Brief Editorial team!

The Bible Readathon

Our Bible Readathon Continues

"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105)

We are now reading the Word of God every night from midnight to 6:00 a.m. EST. We are reading through the whole Word, from Genesis to Revelation, and beginning again in Genesis when finished.

Our numbers of readers continues to grow over time. All are welcome to join!
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[Note: we are reading from these versions of the Scripture: King James, New King James, New American Standard, and NIV.]