Congress at Work for April 2017

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Repeal and Replace Obamacare; Eliminate the EPA and Department of Education Altogether

Congress - April 2017Obamacare Repeal Act (TALENT) (H.R. 175) – As expected, this was one of the first pieces of legislation proposed in the new Trump Administration. The bill would fully repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, restoring all previous healthcare-related legislation as if those reform laws had never been enacted. The Act was introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Jan. 3 and was assigned to a congressional committee for review.

American Health Care Reform Act of 2017 – Introduced on March 6, this bill is spearheaded by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. It would fully repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related reconciliation provisions. The bill would eliminate Obamacare taxes on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, health-insurance premiums, and medical devices, and eradicate the individual and employer mandate penalties. It would reign in and redistribute how Medicaid is funded as well as tax subsidies in the individual market that are used to help pay for healthcare premiums. Presently, the Act is generally supported by President Trump as a strong first effort, but has met with substantial opposition from moderate conservations, extreme conservatives, Democrats, GOP governors in states with Medicaid expansion, and numerous industry stakeholders such as the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and AARP – among others.

To provide for the elimination of the Department of Education, and for other purposes (H.R. 1510) – Sponsored by Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC), with a similar bill (H.R. 899) introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY). These bills propose shutting down the Department of Education, which is responsible for ensuring that all children have equal educational opportunities, including funding and administering Pell Grants and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program for college loans. Also contained within the Department of Education is the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services Administration, which oversees equal opportunities programs for people with disabilities. Both bills have been assigned to a congressional committee for consideration.

To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency (H.R. 861) – This bill consists of one sentence, which simply abolishes the Environmental Protection Agency EPA effective Dec. 31, 2018. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

To distribute Federal funds for elementary and secondary education in the form of vouchers for eligible students and to repeal a certain rule relating to nutrition (H.R. 610) – This bill would repeal the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, which was passed in order to emphasize high academic standards and ensure equal access to a quality education for all students, especially those living in poverty. ESEA also currently provides federal funds to support professional development for teachers, teaching materials, and resources to support educational programs and parent involvement in schools. H.R. 610 would also repeal the current nutrition guidelines designed to reduce the levels of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium and increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk in school breakfasts and lunches. The bill was introduced on Jan. 23 by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and was assigned to a congressional committee for review.