AHCA-ward Pause

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The leader of the free world took a break from being cranky to play with a truck. The State Department will approve the Keystone pipeline permit, capping off another successful election cycle for the Green Party. And the intensity level of Sean Spicer’s press briefing was upgraded today from “making unflinching eye contact while holding a lit match to palm” to “ripping birds’ heads off with teeth.” This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, March 23rd, 2017:

FREEDOM RAUCOUS, AMIRITE – The best deals. Matt Fuller and Ryan Grim: “With conservatives unable to find a deal and leadership unable to find the votes, House Republicans are reportedly pulling their health care bill from the floor and delaying a vote that had been scheduled for Thursday. ‘No vote tonight,’ said a GOP leadership aide. Conservatives have teetered between strongly opposing the GOP health care bill and looming support. The House Freedom Caucus has negotiated with the White House on potentially eliminating Essential Health Benefits and some unknown provisions in Title I of the Affordable Care Act. That expansive section of the 2010 health care law Republicans are trying to repeal includes provisions requiring coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to remain under a parent’s plan until they’re 26 years old. The last-minute renegotiation of the bill spooked moderates, whose trickle of opposition became a steady stream throughout Thursday. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) ― the head of the Tuesday Group, which is made up of roughly 50 moderate House Republicans ― announced his own opposition.” [HuffPost]

Context: “The best reason any Republican can come up with for passing this bill is that they said they would. The pretense that the legislation will result in better health care all but fell by the wayside once the CBO concluded tens of millions would lose their health insurance. As one person said Wednesday, ‘Simply put, this bill does not meet the standards of what was promised; it is not as good or better than what we currently have.’ That person was 11-term Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo (N.J.).” [HuffPost’s Jeffrey Young and Sam Stein]

REVISED CBO SCORE: PRETTY MUCH THE SAME, BUT WORSE The New Coke of letting grandma die. Peter Sullivan: “The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Thursday released a new score for the revised plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare that Republican leaders are struggling to pass through the House. The CBO find that the latest version of the healthcare plan contains significantly less deficit reduction than the original bill, but would lead to essentially the same levels of coverage losses and premium increases. The legislation would reduce the deficit by $150 billion over 10 years, down from $337 billion in the original legislation, the office said. The plan would still result in 24 million more people being uninsured in 2026, a finding that has been a rallying cry for Democrats. Premiums would still initially rise by 15 to 20 percent before eventually becoming 10 percent lower, CBO said.” [The Hill]
AHCA WAY LESS POPULAR THAN ACA – Not A-OK. Ariel Edwards-Levy: “When the Affordable Care Act was signed in March 2010, after months of debate, about 42 percent of the public approved, according to HuffPost Pollster’s aggregate, with about 50 percent disapproving ― a level of discontent that proved to be bad news for Democrats and for Obama. At the law’s lowest ebb, in 2013, support fell to about 38 percent. That level of support, however, seems downright robust in comparison with the pessimism that’s greeted the Republican bill, known as the American Health Care Act. Reactions to the proposal have been overwhelmingly negative, with most surveys finding less than one-third of the public in favor of the bill. Support reached a new nadir Thursday in a Quinnipiac poll, which found just 17 percent of voters expressing approval, and only 6 percent approving strongly.” [HuffPost]

SCHUMER SETS UP GORSUCH SHOWDOWN – Congratulations to all the senators who will make noise about saving the institution before voting to go nuclear. Amanda Terkel and Jennifer Bendery: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Thursday that he will vote against President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, adding that Democrats will also demand that Neil Gorsuch get at least 60 votes to be confirmed…Some Senate Democrats have been quietly looking for ways to cut a deal with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) related to Gorsuch. One idea is to agree to give Gorsuch an up-or-down vote ― where he would need just 51 votes for confirmation ― in exchange for Republicans restoring the 60-vote requirement for advancing district and circuit court nominees. But Democratic leadership hasn’t been a part of those discussions, and Schumer’s announcement on Thursday made it clear that such a deal won’t fly if he has anything to do with it. “ [HuffPost]

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TRUMP’S TIME INTERVIEW IS INSANE – A 3.5 out of 5 on our HuffPost Hill patented “Precious Bodily Fluids” rating system. Marina Fang: “Trump said he didn’t really mean wiretapping because he tweeted it with quotation marks, and he was actually referring to the concept of surveillance more broadly, two lines of defense that administration officials have also employed. ..He still thinks he will be ‘proved right’ on his unfounded claim that 3-5 million people voted illegally. ‘Well, now if you take a look at the votes, when I say that, I mean mostly they register wrong,’ he said of his assertion. ‘In other words, for the votes, they register incorrectly, and/or illegally. And they then vote. You have tremendous numbers of people. In fact I’m forming a committee on it.’ … And he insists everything is fine because he became president. ‘I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not.’” [HuffPost]

NUNES THE WISER Jessica Schulberg and Michael McAuliff: “House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) apologized to angry Democratic colleagues on Thursday, one day after he unilaterally decided to brief reporters and President Donald Trump on unsubstantiated allegations that the president and his surrogates may have been subjected to indirect surveillance in the final months of the Obama administration. Committee members gathered in a closed-door meeting Thursday morning, where ranking committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) asked Nunes why he didn’t share his information with his colleagues before holding two press conferences and briefing Trump in the White House. Nunes apologized ‘in a generic way,’ Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a member of the committee, told CNN. It was not clear exactly what Nunes was apologizing for, she said.” [HuffPost]

Great video of Nunes unable to end his press conferences.

SEC NOMINATION A PROXY BATTLE FOR DODD-FRANK – Zach Carter: “A confirmation vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission is quickly developing into a proxy vote signaling whether moderate Democrats will collaborate with the administration’s efforts to roll back the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Trump nominated attorney Jay Clayton for the top SEC post in January. A partner at the elite corporate law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, Clayton is one of the top lawyers on Wall Street. Goldman Sachs and other firms hired him during the financial crisis.” [HuffPost]

MAN-TERNITY LEAVE – Today in the latest installment of “bad white guy optics.” Amanda Terkel: “President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with a group of conservative male lawmakers to determine the fate of maternity coverage in health care plans Thursday. Members of the House Freedom Caucus, which is composed of all men, went to the White House to talk with the president about what changes they’d like to see to the GOP health care bill. One of the major adjustments would be no longer requiring insurance companies to offer maternity care in all health plans. Pence proudly tweeted a photo of the meeting, which didn’t feature a single woman (although White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was reportedly there).” [HuffPost]

You do you, Sean Spicer: “White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday defended the idea of taking away guaranteed maternity coverage in health insurance, denying that it would mean women must pay relatively more for their health care. He’s wrong about that. Ending the guarantee could mean slightly lower premiums for individual men and much older women, but it would just as surely drive up premiums for women of child-bearing age and their families ― unless it left them paying the full cost of prenatal care and delivery, typically many thousands of dollars, out of their own pockets. [HuffPost’s Jonathan Cohn]

ANOTHER RESOUNDING VICTORY FOR MOTHER EARTH – We’re so excited for when this year’s White House Christmas Tree is replaced with a tire fire pyramid. Valerie Volcovici and Timothy Gardner: “The U.S. State Department will approve on Friday the permit needed to proceed with construction of the Canada-to-United States Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project blocked by former President Barack Obama, according to two government sources familiar with the process. The move would mark the beginning of process that could be lengthy and complicated by approvals needed by state regulators and legal challenges. But President Donald Trump, a Republican, supports Keystone and days after he took office in January ordered its construction. That could mean that project, proposed in 2008, will eventually be completed.” [Reuters]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR – Here’s a great Dane and a puppy.

SWAMP UPDATE: STILL QUITE FULL – Too bad the GOP failed to gut the OCE! John Bresnahan: “Rep. Duncan Hunter is under criminal investigation by the Justice Department over alleged campaign finance violations, the House Ethics Committee announced Thursday. The California Republican spent tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of campaign funds on items that appear to be personal in nature during 2015 and 2016, according to records from Hunter’s campaign — a potential violation of House rules and federal law. The funds were spent on groceries and outdoor equipment, a dentist, a nail salon and a utility company, as well as on a hotel in Italy and at the Arizona Grand Resort. Although Hunter later repaid nearly $60,000 to his campaign following news reports detailing the questionable spending, the Office of Congressional Ethics began a probe into the case.” [Politico]

COMFORT FOOD

– How TV show intros got so good.

– New “Handmaid’s Tale” trailer.

– How iTunes fell apart.

TWITTERAMA

@robdelaney: .@SpeakerRyan courting AHCA votes by saying he’ll add 35% credit card processing fee when you GoFundMe chemo money to people with melanin.

@burgessev: Someone should do a tweetstorm on health care or SCOTUS

@mattyglesias: Like the President of the United States, my two year-old son really loves trucks and making pooping faces.

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