Top lawmaker says health bill includes tax hikes

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WASHINGTON (AP) Developments on Tuesday, July 11, about the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Obama health law (all times Eastern Daylight Time).

  • 6:05 p.m.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said a revised version of the party’s health care bill will likely retain two tax increases former President Barack Obama levied on wealthier Americans to help pay for his expansion of coverage.

The No. 2 Senate Republican leader said “where we are right now” is the bill would keep Obama’s 3.8 percent tax boost on investment income for couples earning over $250,000 annually. It would also retain a payroll tax increase of 0.9 percent on the same earners that helps pay for the Medicare health care program for the elderly.

Republicans usually oppose tax increases.

Cornyn said Republicans would use the revenue to help keep health insurance premiums and deductibles in check.

Congressional analysts said keeping the tax boosts yields $231 billion over 10 years.

  • 2:20 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he plans to unveil the revised health bill on Thursday with a vote on moving ahead on the measure the following week.

McConnell also told reporters he expected analysts at the Congressional Budget Office to provide their assessment early in the coming week.

Senate Republican leaders have been struggling to come up with legislation to erase much of Democrat Obama’s health care law, but Republicans remain divided over the bill.

McConnell laid out the schedule shortly after announcing the Senate would delay its August recess by two weeks to work on legislation, including a defense bill, and nominations.

  • 1:45 p.m.

In announcing the delay of the Senate’s five-week recess until the third week of the month, McConnell said it was necessary to complete work on legislation and deal with Trump administration nominees. McConnell complained about the lack of cooperation from Democrats on the nominations.

McConnell said once the Senate “completes its work on health care reform,” it would deal with the defense policy bill and nominations.

With Senate Republicans continuing to struggle with legislation to repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act, little progress has been made on other legislation. McConnell said delaying their recess would allow the chamber to work on the annual defense policy measure and, perhaps, must-do legislation to increase the government’s borrowing authority.

McConnell made the announcement after a group of fellow Republicans urged him to keep the Senate in session to catch up on the raft of unfinished work, which includes well more than 100 nominees.

  • 10:50 a.m.

Long-time Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said he was “very pessimistic” that Republican senators would settle their differences and push a health care bill through the chamber.

The bill will fail if three of the 52 Republican senators vote no, and far more than that have voiced opposition to their initial bill.

Grassley said Republicans have been pledging for years to repeal former President Obama’s 2010 health care law. He said on the Fox News Channel there are consequences if lawmakers don’t deliver on campaign promises, and he said, “there ought to be.”

Over the weekend, Grassley tweeted that Republicans would lose their Senate majority if they don’t pass a health care overhaul.

  • 10:20 a.m.

Maverick Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., warned his party’s leaders against striking a compromise with Democrats should the Republican health care bill collapse.

Speaking on the Fox New Channel, Paul said if Republicans took that step, conservative voters would rebel.

Internal Republican differences have left the Republican bill’s fate in question.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell has suggested changes aimed at winning enough Republican votes to prevail.

McConnell has said if the bill collapses, he’d focus on writing a more limited bill. It would likely require Democratic support.

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