Closing out the Week in Congress (May 1-5, 2017)

May 5, 2017

Submitted by:  Veronica Coffin


Health bill crosses first hurdle…

The House passed the American Health Care Act, moving the action on health care to the Senate. Congress passed the Omnibus spending bill to fund the government through September, with a bipartisan compromise that had both sides claiming a win.

How much do members of Congress get paid?
Most senators, representatives, delegates, and the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico make $174,000. The Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) makes  $223,500 per year. The president pro tempore of the Senate (Orrin Hatch) and the majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate (Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Kevin McCarthy and Nancy Pelosi) make $193,400. Those amounts have not changed since 2009.

Members are only paid during their terms in office. They receive no per diem or housing allowance but can deduct up to $3,000 per year for housing expenses. Their outside income is limited ($27,495 in 2016).


Q & A: What’s next for the health care bill? (AHCA)

The American Health Care Act still has a long road to travel.

Senators plan to write their own health bill, so keep an eye on Senators Orrin Hatch [R, UT] and Lamar Alexander [R, TN], chairmen of the relevant committees.

The health bill is a reconciliation bill, (crafted in response to the recent budget to “reconcile” existing policies with the budget), which means it only needs a simple majority and is not subject to filibuster. A reconciliation bill is also subject to the “Bryd Rule,” meaning it must reduce spending and cannot include “extraneous matters.”

Once senator leaders come up with a bill that can pass Byrd Rule muster, it can come up for a vote before the full Senate. And if the Senate bill passes, that’s when things get really interesting. The House and Senate would have to work reconcile differences and then the combined bill would have to pass both the House and Senate in the exact same form.

All of that to say, a long process awaits, with many twists and turns and opportunities to weigh in along the way.



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