Lauren Fox

Lauren Fox is a reporter at Talking Points Memo.

Articles by Lauren

A must-pass spending bill hit a snag Thursday as some Senate Democrats are banding together against the legislation unless a year-long protection for miners health care benefits is included.

How exactly they plan to ensure the miner's get the benefits is still unclear.

The continuing resolution to fund the federal government until the end of April was expected to easily pass the House of Representatives Thursday as members were anxious to skip town and get back home for the holidays, but the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

The hold-up is over health care benefits for retired miners. The benefits help more than 20,000 coal miners and their widows. The current continuing resolution includes just a four-month extension of those benefits, and Democrats want to see more.

According to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Democrats left a caucus meeting Thursday afternoon in agreement that they would stand against any spending bill that did not include an extension of the benefits for at least a year.

"These mine workers are going to be worried going into Christmas that their health care ends on December 31st. We do four more months and they worry again in the first quarter of the year. That's not the way to live. None of us would want to live that way. Nobody wants to live that way," Brown said.

Democrats would not say if they planned to vote against cloture, the procedural vote that requires 60 votes for senators to get onto a bill. If Democrats did vote against cloture it could lead to a government shutdown.

"We haven't made a final decision on that," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters on the question of if Democrats would vote against cloture on the CR.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told the Washington Post, “I want to shut her down. I mean this is ridiculous. We need an extension to the CR until people come to their senses. You can’t throw 16,000 people out.”

Democrats also want to see a stronger "buy America" provision that requires that the U.S. government only funds projects that use American-made steel. The provision had been included, but was scrapped by House Republican leaders despite the fact that it's been a popular refrain from President-elect Donald Trump.

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When Harry Reid was growing up, he got a job working at a service station. He wanted to buy his mom teeth.

She'd been hit with a softball in the face as a young woman, and her oral health hadn't been the same for decades. He saved up his money and called it one of his life's greatest accomplishments.

On the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday it was one of dozens of stories Harry Reid—the onetime majority leader and now minority leader—shared as he said goodbye to an institution he's irrevocably helped shape over the last three decades.

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Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told the Washington Post that he will not help Republicans replace the Affordable Care Act if they follow through with a strategy to repeal the law immediately and then replace it down the road.

“We’re not going to do a replacement,” Schumer told the Washington Post. “If they repeal without a replacement, they will own it. Democrats will not then step up to the plate and come up with a half-baked solution that we will partially own. It’s all theirs."

Schumer's comments come as Republicans remain divided on the best strategy to replace the health care law. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that the Senate would repeal the law as their first order of business in 2017, but it is unclear how Republicans plan to come up with and implement a replacement. It is very likely that Republicans will need 60 votes to implement a replacement, and thus Democratic help, according to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) says that Medicare "needs to be reformed," but the junior senator from Florida – a state with a large elderly population– wouldn't say outright he embraced Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare.

"I think it needs to be reformed," Rubio told TPM Tuesday. "I'd like to see specific proposals."

When asked if he or other Republican senators would be open to moving forward with a plan like Paul Ryan's—which is pretty specific and would give the elderly a set amount of money to purchase health care on a private exchange—Rubio demurred.

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