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This week in Congress: Republicans take key steps on tax reform

By Ted Barrett, Deirdre Walsh, Ashley Killough, Kristin Wilson, Manu Raju |

Tax reform and health care will dominate the legislative action on Capitol Hill this week while lawmakers also track the federal response to Puerto Rico, the Equifax scandal, private plane travel by members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet and the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in last year’s election.

Both chambers are working to pass budget resolutions that will lay the groundwork to pass tax reform in the Senate with just 51 votes. The House should pass its version of the bill by Thursday while the Senate budget committee plans to markup its version Wednesday and Thursday. Action on the tax bill itself is still weeks, if not months, away although negotiations over the provisions and details will pick up.

The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate health committee are aiming to cut a deal sometime Monday on legislation to shore up Obamacare’s individual markets by providing subsidies to health insurance companies that are used to lower out-of-pocket expenses for lower-income Americans. If they can reach an agreement, they hope to convince House and Senate bipartisan leaders and Trump to back the proposal, which is toxic to many Republicans because they see it as fixing Obamacare when they really want to repeal it. It remains highly unclear if this legislation will advance, but this will be a critical week to see if it can…read more…