- Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on Congress (all times EST):

2:40 p.m.

Advocacy groups supporting abortion rights say President-elect Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress have “awakened a sleeping giant” in their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The groups say repealing the health insurance law will require millions of women to pay more for health care, particularly for contraception and cancer screenings.

The groups and about two dozen Democratic lawmakers made the comments to reporters on Capitol Hill on the same day that House Speaker Paul Ryan says the GOP will try to cut off taxpayer money for Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards says her organization’s clinics are the only source of health care for many people. She says Ryan is essentially “pledging to deny women access to basic health care across this country.” She says her group will be fighting back.


1:15 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says lawmakers will act this year on repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law - and replacing it with a Republican alternative.

Republicans running for Congress have said they plan to vote this year on dismantling much of Obama’s law. But the Wisconsin Republican went a step further Thursday, saying they’d also write a bill to replace it in 2017.

GOP lawmakers have never rallied behind any plan to replace the 2010 Obama law. It will be difficult and time-consuming because there are many views among Republicans about what the replacement would do and how to pay for it.

Republicans have discussed delaying the effective repeal date for perhaps several years to give themselves time to replace the health care law and to phase in changes.


12:05 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says upcoming legislation to repeal the health care law would cut off taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood.

The Wisconsin Republican spoke after a special House panel issued a report criticizing the organization over providing tissue from aborted fetuses to researchers. Planned Parenthood provides birth control, abortions and various women’s health services.

A similar bill last year also would have “defunded” the group, which receives government reimbursements from the Medicaid program for non-abortion health care for low-income women.

The defunding effort is a top priority of anti-abortion lawmakers but could complicate “Obamacare” repeal in the Senate, where at least one Republican senator has opposed the repeal. Susan Collins of Maine cited the effort to “defund” Planned Parenthood in her opposition to repeal.


11:00 a.m.

Senate Democrats want a House ethics investigation into stock sales by a congressman who is now a Cabinet pick of President-elect Donald Trump‘s.

Trump has tapped Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Price had traded over $300,000 in shares in health care companies over the previous four years while pushing legislation that might affect those stocks’ values.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Thursday he doesn’t know if Price broke any laws. The New York Democrat said the House’s independent Office of Congressional Ethics should investigate before Senate hearings on his nomination begin.

Trump spokesman Phil Blando calls the demand a stunt.

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