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Three Big Events On The Calendar This Week

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Three big events on the calendar this week, including: Janet Yellen’s semi-annual testimony before Congress, another attempt to pass a replacement to Obamacare, and Amazon Prime day.

Congress returned from a July 4 recess, with Senate Republicans beginning to consider what they should do if their Obamacare replacement bill fails. While lawmakers were on recess, they heard from constituents at home, and the message was strong opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act; a survey in late June showed the plan had only 17% support from US voters.

With a slim 52-seat majority, they can only afford to lose two GOP senators and still let Vice President Pence break a tie. Roughly 10 GOP senators have come out against the current version of the Senate healthcare bill. Senate Republicans want to roll out a new draft of their bill to repeal and replace Obamacare as soon as this week, with a vote next week.

Before a vote, they will need an update from the Congressional Budget Office. Senators could release an updated draft of their bill by the end of the week. Senate Republicans sent two proposals to the CBO late last month, one including an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz and one without.

The Cruz proposal would give insurance companies the freedom to sell any kinds of health plans they want if they also sell at least one plan that qualifies under the regulatory requirements of the Affordable Care Act. But the amendment has drawn push-back from GOP senators, who warn that the proposal won’t be able to get enough support to pass. Some senators are now pushing a “repeal now, try to come up with a replacement later” approach.

A straight repeal bill almost certainly would not have the votes to pass. Trump has also suggested moving forward with a simple Obamacare repeal bill if negotiations fall apart. That would at least, supporters say, fulfill a key GOP promise and allow lawmakers more time to draft an acceptable replacement. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and more moderate members would rather work with Democrats on a short-term plan to stabilize the insurance markets, lest they deteriorate even more.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is aiming to come to an agreement on a draft tax plan with the House and Senate before the August recess, with the goal of beginning legislative action after the break. The plan always called for dealing with health care first, then tax reform, so…

What will Janet Yellen say in Congressional testimony? The Federal Reserve chair will discuss the outlook for policy and the economy in Congressional testimony on Wednesday and Thursday in her semi-annual testimony before the House and Senate. Investors will focus on her views regarding interest...