The clock is ticking down to when the U.S. Congress is scheduled to leave for its holiday break.
But a lot could happen within this next week, especially with Congress poised to deal with several major issues, including the Republicans’ tax overhaul and funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow sat down with Stateside to discuss those issues and more.
You can listen to the full interview above, or read highlights from the conversation below.
On the future of CHIP and community health center funding
Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers around nine million American children, was not automatically renewed in September, leaving the future of the program up in the air.
In the past, CHIP has had broad bipartisan support, and the House passed a bill last month to fund CHIP for five years. The Senate Finance Committee, which Sen. Stabenow sits on, also cleared a CHIP extension.
Despite having legislation prepared before the September 30th deadline, Stabenow said, “We cannot get the leadership to give us one day on the floor of the Senate to do something that has votes, that has bipartisan support!”
“At this point, it seems that [Republican leadership] is holding the Children’s Health Insurance bill and health centers as some kind of pawn in year-end negotiations, and you know, that’s just not fair, to hold kids and families hostage in all of this,” said Stabenow.
And if the Congress leaves for the year without funding CHIP? Families will start getting notices in January.
“Happy New Year! You get a notice that your child’s not going to be able to not see their doctor.”
On the FCC vote to roll back net neutrality
The FCC voted Thursday to remove net neutrality regulations approved under the Obama administration.
Most Americans oppose this move. One study done by the University of Maryland found that 75 percent of Republicans don’t support the FCC’s decision.
Stabenow also opposes the end of net neutrality, and she said there could be a legislative solution.
“First of all, people should have free and open access to the Internet. It’s also an economic driver for us as part of the...certainly the new economy, communications,” said the senator.
“We certainly could overturn it legislatively. That’s something that we would have to have bipartisan support to do. So far we’ve not seen the White House or Republican majority indicate they are willing to do that, but we need to keep speaking out and pushing for that to happen.”
On the Republican tax overhaul
Reports say that Republicans have reached a deal on their tax plan, which President Trump says he wants on his desk before Christmas.
Stabenow said she has not seen this proposal.
“And in fact,” she added, “I sit on the conference committee that is supposed to be debating and approving this bill.”
“Everything they’re talking about is the same-old trickle-down economics, telling people in Michigan ‘Just wait, we’re gonna give big tax cuts to the top 1 percent, the largest corporations, and then someday it’ll trickle-down to you.’ That hasn’t worked in the past. If it did, I’d support it. It’s never worked,” said Stabenow.
“It’s very concerning to me. I wish they’d go back to the drawing board, let us sit down, and do a bipartisan bill that’s actually gonna help the economy and help middle-class families.”