Insurance mergers, defense bill, Puerto Rican debt crisis among week’s top issues

Washington logoClinton injects planned insurance mergers into the presidential race

Hillary Clinton said she had “serious concerns” about the proposed Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna mergers, which are under review by the Justice Department’s antitrust division. Clinton said she is skeptical that the mergers would result in better care or lower premiums and said consolidation may hurt residents of some states, including the key primary state of New Hampshire. Clinton’s comments thrust the mergers into the race for the White House and let the Justice Department know that the Democratic front-runner has issues with the mergers.

 Obama vetoes defense bill over end-run on spending restrictions

For the fifth time since he assumed office, President Obama used his veto pen, this time on a $612 billion defense authorization bill. He objected to the way some Pentagon spending would be funded “off budget,” though an “overseas contingency fund.” Obama is trying to pressure the Republican-led Congress to eliminate strict spending limits on both military and domestic spending. Connecticut’s Democratic lawmakers broke with the president on this issue, supporting the freshly vetoed defense bill.

CT House delegation helps defeat yet another attempt to repeal the ACA

House Republicans approved a bill that would gut the Affordable Care Act. All five members of the Connecticut House delegation voted against it. Unlike the previous 60 attempts by the House GOP to gut or repeal the ACA, this one can’t be filibustered or blocked by Senate Democrats because it was considered under a rarely used process known as “reconciliation.’ The same process was used to win congressional approval of the ACA. But if the bill is approved by the Senate, President Obama is expected to veto it.

Blumenthal heeds president’s call for a bill to address Puerto Rico crisis

The White House released a plan this week aimed at keeping Puerto Rico from defaulting on $72 billion in debt and asked Congress to pass enabling legislation. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who had sponsored a bill that would allow Puerto Rican municipalities file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, complied. He introduced a new bill that also would accomplish some of the Obama administration’s other goals, including making Puerto Rico’s residents eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and expanded Medicaid benefits. Republicans were cool to the proposals. Meanwhile, there’s been an uptick in Puerto Ricans leaving the island for Connecticut and other states with established Puerto Rican communities.

CT House members piling up campaign cash

Connecticut members of the House of Representatives are raising a lot of campaign cash, even those who don’t have rials yet, according to the latest filings with the Federal Elections Commission.

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