2018

Opinion: Best and the Brightest? Trump’s Troika of Troubled Nominees
Senate can stop president’s dismal choices for cabinet jobs

White House physician Ronny Jackson, nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs, had better hang on to his day job after lawmakers cited “serious concerns,” Walter Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate confirmation fights have been the stuff of Washington drama from the fictional “Advise and Consent” (1960 Pulitzer Prize) to the real-life rejection of John Tower (a rumored alcoholic and inveterate skirt chaser) for Defense secretary in 1989. And of course, Mike Pence last year had to break a 50-50 Senate tie over the fate of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

But never in modern times has a president in the midst of his first term had three nominees as troubled as the Trump Troika.

Drug Pricing Proposal Should Revamp Medicare, GOP Experts Say
Overhauling Part B drug benefit could have “massive impact overnight”

HHS Secretary Alex Azar has been outspoken in seeking to carry out the president’s push to reduce drug costs. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An upcoming Trump administration proposal on lowering drug costs should ask Congress to allow private insurance companies to negotiate prices for drugs administered in a doctor’s office or hospital, two Republican policy experts said.

The administration’s proposal is a request for comment on strategies to lower drug prices and out-of-pocket costs. It was originally expected to be released in tandem with a speech by President Donald Trump on Thursday, but the speech was delayed as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar recovers from an infection.

Health Groups Voice Concerns Over Short-Term Plan Proposal
Industry frets that premiums will rise, choice will go down

People shop for health insurance in Miami during the open enrollment period last November. Advocacy groups are concerned an expansion of short-term plans could push up premiums for plans sold on health exchanges. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

The health care industry is largely united in its opposition to the Trump administration’s proposal to expand how long people can be covered by short-term health plans.

Health care and advocacy groups raised concerns about allowing consumers to maintain a short-term insurance policy for just under 12 months rather than the current 90 days, providing an alternative type of coverage to that sold on the marketplaces set up under the 2010 health care law. Their comment letters to the administration predicted that the proposal would drive up premiums and decrease consumers’ choices for plans sold on the exchanges.

Committees Tackle Politically Powerful Issue of Opioids Legislation
Senate HELP panel advanced bipartisan package Tuesday

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, chairs the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, which will consider over 60 bills to address the opioids crisis at a Wednesday markup. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House heads into a marathon opioid markup Wednesday, a day after the Senate health committee approved bipartisan legislation of its own addressing the crisis. Both chambers are eager to advance bills to combat the crisis under an aggressive timeline, with an eye toward demonstrating action before the midterms on an issue that affects voters representing most demographics and districts.

“Even though this epidemic is worse in some parts of the country than others, find me a congressional district where this isn’t an issue,” said Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford. “Absolutely, they do not want to go into an election and have their constituents mad at them.”

Capitol Ink | Nominating From Behind

Heitkamp Highlights Family Ties in First TV Ad
North Dakota Democrat is among the most vulnerable senators

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is running for re-election in a state President Donald Trump carried by 36 points. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is highlighting her family in her first television ad of the 2018 election cycle. The North Dakota Democrat is looking to stress her ties to the state as she bids for a second term.

Heitkamp is one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election this year, running in a state President Donald Trump carried by 36 points in 2016. Watch: Will the Chambers Flip? Redditors Want to Know

Republican Debbie Lesko Wins Arizona Special Election
Victory keeps seat in GOP hands but margin could give Democrats hope

Former state Sen. Debbie Lesko is heading to Congress after winning the special election in Arizona’s 8th District. (Courtesy Debbie Lesko/Flickr)

Updated Wednesday, 12:04 a.m. | Former Republican state Sen. Debbie Lesko won the special election in Arizona’s 8th District on Tuesday night, but her victory margin for a seat that President Donald Trump easily carried in 2016 appeared to be relatively slim.

The Associated Press called the race with Lesko leading Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, 53 percent to 47 percent in early ballots, which accounted for an estimated 75 percent of the total votes cast, according to the Arizona secretary of state’s office. The seat opened up after former GOP Rep. Trent Franks resigned in December amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Macron Calls for New Iran Talks to Build On Deal Trump Loathes
'It won't be so easy for them to restart,' U.S. president warns Tehran

President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron are in the midst of a three-day state visit.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday proposed a new nuclear accord with Iran, an apparent attempt by the youthful European leader to keep the existing pact in place while assuaging President Donald Trump’s concerns.

Macron made the announcement after several hours of private meetings earlier in the day with the U.S. president at the White House. His call for a new deal came hours after Trump slammed the existing Obama-era pact, calling it “terrible” and “insane” and “ridiculous” while saying it fails to address Iran’s missile program or activities in the region.

Democratic Majority Would Act Quickly on Guns, Dreamers, Infrastructure, Pelosi Says
Minority leader hits on wide array of topics during Georgetown University town hall

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says Democrats would act quickly on gun violence prevention, protections for Dreamers and infrastructure if they retake the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Democrats control the House in 2019 they would quickly schedule floor action on gun violence prevention, protections for “Dreamers” and infrastructure, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday. 

“When we win and we take over in January, some of the issues that will come up soon are the issues we are asking the speaker to take up now,” Pelosi said, naming those three issues.

Former Florida Reps. Murphy and Jolly Floating Bipartisan Governor Bid
The two have traveled together speaking on gridlock and dysfunction in Washington

Former Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., is considering asking former Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., to join his ticket in a bid for governor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two former Florida congressmen are mulling joining forces on a bipartisan ticket to run for governor.

Former Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, is considering running alongside former Republican Rep. David Jolly, depending on the results of a poll Murphy commissioned this week, the Tampa Bay Times reported.