peter urban / dc news junkie
Team 26 riders depart Washington on their ride back to Newtown, Conn. to raise awareness about gun violence (peter urban / dc news junkie)

House Republicans this week narrowly approved a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, drawing harsh criticism from Democrats who claim the alternative will jeopardize coverage for millions of Americans receiving health insurance under Obamacare.

The Connecticut delegation, all Democrats, voted against the bill. Rep. Rosa DeLauro was among dozens of Democrats on the floor who lined up to speak against it during a Thursday morning debate. A day earlier she joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at a press conference in the Capitol in opposition to the bill — she said it was a personal issue for her as a survivor of ovarian cancer.

DeLauro told DCNewsJunkie that the bill “is a hoax” that will require older Americans to pay higher premiums, and allows states to roll back protections for those with pre-existing conditions, reinstitute lifetime limits and caps on coverage, and let insurers opt out of covering maternity care, substance abuse treatments, or mental health services.

peter urban / dc news junkie
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (peter urban / dc news junkie)

“The American public should take to the streets and they should decry this piece of immorality and make sure these folks don’t get away with it,” she said.

The American Health Care Act passed 217 to 213 with no Democrat in favor. President Donald Trump cheered the House action, inviting Republican members over to the White House for a celebratory rally. The Senate has yet to act on the bill and likely will rewrite it over the next month or two as they try to draw enough support to get it to the president’s desk.

Rep. John Larson said the Republicans rushed to pass the bill — without a vetting by the Congressional Budget Office — because the vote was “sheer politics” and had nothing to do with improving the health care system.

“They have a gallstone issue here. They are just trying to pass anything,” he said. “They are in such pain and agony over their own political stew that they placed themselves in that they’ll do anything to get this out of the House. They are jamming through something that their own membership hasn’t seen.”

The politics, however, may not work out so well for Republicans, according to political analysts at the Cook Report.

The analysts said it gives Democrats a major on-the-record vote to exploit in the next election and cited a March Quinnipiac poll that showed the repeal law with only 17 percent support.

“Not only did dozens of Republicans in marginal districts just hitch their names to an unpopular piece of legislation, Democrats just received another valuable candidate recruitment tool,” the Cook Report said. also offers up a good summary of who to watch in the Senate as the bill moves forward.

Connecticut Bicyclists Raise Gun Control Issue At Capitol

As an annual reminder of the mass shooting of school children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, bicyclists known as “Team 26” have ridden from Newtown to the Capitol urging Congress to pass gun safety laws.

This year, they reversed course — in essence turning their backs on Congress — as they started their ride from the Capitol on Thursday morning headed to Newtown. Along the way they planned to pass through places that are taking action on the issue.

Team 26 founder Monte Frank, an attorney from Newtown, sounded frustrated with the lack of movement in Congress after four years of cycling from Connecticut to Congress.

“We need to act before more senseless gun deaths happen. It is just common sense,” he said at a press conference outside the Capitol.

The group was joined by the entire Connecticut delegation — as well as a few other lawmakers — who say they will continue to fight for gun safety laws but acknowledged it won’t happen swiftly.

Government Funded Through September

The House and Senate approved a more than $1 trillion spending bill that will keep the federal government running through September.

The bill ends this year’s annual game of chicken in Congress where appropriations deadlines for the fiscal year are set — a government shutdown looms — and then the deadline is moved for another brief period of negotiations.

Although Republicans hold the majority in both the House and Senate, the budget agreement drew more Democratic support. Fiscal conservatives opposed the deal that basically left in place current spending on domestic programs while adding spending for military and veterans.

“This bill is a good compromise that supports several important priorities for central and northwest Connecticut,” Rep. Elizabeth Esty said. “It includes needed investments in medical research, opioid addiction treatment, childhood nutrition, Brownfields restoration, background checks for gun sales, and other programs that our communities depend on.”

Rep. Joe Courtney, whose district includes much of eastern Connecticut, issued a statement in praise of the bill saying it is “good news” for the state’s defense industry.

“It contains funding for all of Connecticut’s top-defense manufacturing priorities, including $85 million in advanced procurement funding for Virginia-class submarines produced at Electric Boat,” he said.

There is also funding for Sikorsky Aircraft and Pratt & Whitney with additional military purchases of helicopters and aircraft.

Courtney detailed the items in a press release.

Retirement Savings rule repeal

Connecticut’s plans to create a public retirement system could be in jeopardy as Republicans in Congress target an Obama-era rule to help states set up retirement savings systems.

The Senate voted 50-49 to repeal the rule this week. No Democrat supported its repeal.

Connecticut supporters of the public retirement system say it could help 600,000 residents, who don’t have employer-sponsored retirement savings plans.

How They Voted

The House voted, 217 to 213, in favor of the American Health Care Act to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Larson, Courtney, DeLauro, Himes and Esty voted against it.

The House voted, 217 to 213, and the Senate, 79-18, to approve more than $1 trillion in spending to keep the federal government running through the 2017 fiscal year that ends on Sept. 30.

Murphy, Blumenthal, Larson, Courtney, DeLauro, Himes and Esty voted in favor.

The Senate voted 61-37 to confirm Jay Clayton to head the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Murphy and Blumenthal voted against Clayton’s confirmation.

The Senate vote 50-49 to repeal an Obama-era rule allowing states to establish retirement savings programs for private employees.

Murphy and Blumenthal voted against repealing the rule.