It would be hard to trump Trumpcare as the biggest story of the week. On Thursday, the president and Congress failed to muster a majority in the House, so a floor vote on a measure that would replace the Affordable Care Act was postponed. The day ended with Trump issuing an ultimatum: either pass this puppy or we keep Obamacare. Another attempt at passage is expected this afternoon, but had not occurred at this writing. If this dog hunts, the Senate awaits.
The opposition is a curious coalition. Some are against it because it screws too many insureds, and others are against it because it doesn’t screw enough of them. North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows, a member of the 30-person “Freedom Caucus,” said the caucus had been “reasonable” in asking for deeper cuts in benefits – “reasonable” apparently being defined as “do what we 6 percent of members want, or we walk.”
The other buzz in Washington was about the administration’s “budget blueprint,” calling for a boost in spending for homeland security and immigration and significant cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and departments of State, Agriculture and Education. Oh, and then there was transportation. Despite campaigning on improving the country’s infrastructure, the blueprint has transportation taking a $2.4 billion haircut, mostly in programs funding air and rail projects, highways and public transportation. In other words, “infrastructure.”
Outside the beltway, states and cities braced for the consequences. In Pittsburgh, City Council voted unanimously to oppose the blueprint, which Mayor Bill Peduto said would be “devastating.” On the chopping block in the Steel City is $13 million in Community Development Block Grants that benefit 50 groups that include food banks and others.
The latest immigration kerfuffle involves a new weekly report from Immigration and Customs Enforcement purporting to blow the whistle on cities and counties that refuse to cooperate with ICE detainer requests. Several jurisdictions said the ICE accusations were inaccurate, and others explained that they were simply not willing to incarcerate people without a warrant because it would violate, you know, the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey announced that he will vote against Trump Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. He explained why in this op-ed article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Calling it “a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Governor Wolf embraced a report that forecasts $2.7 billion to $3.7 billion in investments in natural gas assets. The guv said such a level of investment could transform the state’s economy. Ah, Marcellus shale, the gift that keeps on giving – as long as we can figure out how to get it from Point A to Point B without tripping over our own feet.
The state licensing process to get into the medical marijuana biz reached an application deadline this week. The PA Department of Health will issue 12 grower licenses and 27 dispensary permits, choosing among an expected 900 or so applicants.
Although Pennsylvania faces an overall budget deficit of almost $3 billion, there’s no need to worry about the General Assembly. Between the House, Senate and various legislative branch agencies, lawmakers managed to squirrel away a $118 million surplus, to be used to tide them over in case of a budget stalemate.
Philly’s sweetened beverage tax is turning out a bit sweeter than the city expected. The tax brought in $6.4 million in February, the second consecutive month that it met or exceeded projections. The revenue supports pre-kindergarten programs and parks and recreation.
Meanwhile, Pepsi began to pull 2-litre and 12-pack products off the shelves, replacing them with smaller volume packages to lessen the 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax impact. Reports are unconfirmed on plans to sell soda by the shot glass at Lincoln Financial Field this year to minimize the sugar drink tax…
Our pal, Nate Kresge, and his firm, GK Visual, were featured in the Central Penn Business Journal for launching a video initiative that will tell the story of the state’s craft beer community. Nate says he expects to visit 20 to 30 of PA’s breweries as part of the project. And he calls this “work.”
In our We Can’t Make This Up section this week, we’re pleased to note that modern science and engineering have combined to come up with something really useful. In time for Cinco de Mayo, it’s a cloud that rains tequila, which revelers can then catch in shot glasses. It was developed by the Mexico Tourism Board, which is using it to attract tourists from Germany. Germany??? What are we, chopped liver???
We’d be remiss if we failed to acknowledge National Puppy Day, which was Thursday. So when you head out for Happy Hour, be sure to raise a pint to Fido, Spot, Ginger and Chloe. As we shake our heads over the rancor we see in our nation’s capital, we are reminded of the advice often attributed to President Truman: If you want a friend in this town, get a dog.
And that’s what passes for news around these parts. From your pals here at Triad, have a great weekend, and we’ll do it all again next week!
The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh