POLITICS
03/24/2017 05:46 pm ET

BREAKING: House Republicans

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

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If you like your health care, you can keep it … for now. Knowing the Democratic Party, it will probably bungle this political opportunity with an awkwardly staged press conference on the Capitol steps in which Nancy Pelosi annoyingly proffers her own variation of “Make America Great Again,” followed by some press releases with clumsily-inserted Hamilton references. And Donald Trump is skipping Mar-a-Lago this weekend, disappointing its members and the not insignificant number of waiters with tiny cameras in their bowties. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, March 24th, 2017:

IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE REPUBLICANS HAD SEVEN YEARS TO GET THIS RIGHT - And they didn’t. Jeffrey Young and Jonathan Cohn: “House Republican leaders on Friday pulled their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, signaling defeat on what was supposed to be a major legislative accomplishment for President Donald Trump. The news was first reported by Robert Costa of The Washington Post, who spoke to the president directly, following a meeting between Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Trump said he agreed to pulling the bill once Ryan made it clear the legislation lacked the votes to pass. In subsequent remarks, both Trump and Ryan indicated they were ready to move on from health care to other issues. .. ‘We came really close today, but we came up short,’ Ryan said at a press conference. ‘This is a disappointing day for us.’” [HuffPost]

TRUMP: FORGET THE STUFF I SAID BEFORE - Jordan Fabian: “President Trump on Friday blamed Democrats, not Republicans, for the stunning collapse of the GOP healthcare plan. ‘We were very close, it was a very tight margin. We had no Democrat support, no votes from the Democrats,’ Trump said, flanked by Vice President Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in the Oval Office. ‘I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because now they own ObamaCare,’ the president added, referring to the House and Senate Democratic leaders. ... Trump sought to distance himself from the promise to repeal ObamaCare. ‘I never said repeal and replace it in 64 days,’ the president said.” [The Hill]

@SopanDeb: Trump, 11/1/16: “When we win on November 8th and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare.”

It’s almost like this whole thing was rushed: “Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) is one of the moderate Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives who [planned] to vote against his party’s Obamacare replacement bill on Friday ― partly, he says, because the process of drafting the legislation has been too rushed.  Amodei said he hadn’t even had a chance to read the latest changes to the bill, which House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled on Thursday evening ahead of Friday’s vote.” [HuffPost’s Arthur Delaney]

Howard Fineman gives the president some free advice: “Among other things, President Trump has to learn that in Washington, you can’t simply build your own design. You have to build what other people want. Your job is to find consensus and entice others – many others ― into thinking that your vision is theirs. Projects get ‘built’ here more with rewards than threats. It is not a brutal game of ‘the last man standing.’ It’s ‘we’re all in this together,’ even when the ‘we’ is just your own party.” [HuffPost]

Et tu, Wall Street? “U.S. equities closed mixed Friday after a choppy trading session with NBC News reporting the House pulled a key health-care bill. ‘I think you will have a rally if he pulls the bill. He didn’t have the votes to get it done,’ said Art Cashin, director of floor operations at the NYSE for UBS. ‘They’ll now move on to tax reform. at least that’s what the market will believe and the market will move on.’” [CNBC]

TRUMP, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, DIDN’T SEEM TO LISTEN TO HIMSELF - Kind of like that time Barack Obama couldn’t get single-payer health care because he didn’t listen to the dreams of his father. Philip Bump: “There are, it seems, 11 core tenets to Trump’s dealmaking. Trump would be among the first to admit that his ability to come out on top was not foolproof; he did, after all, also write a book called ‘The Art of the Comeback” which doesn’t get quite the same amount of play as the first. But it may gain new currency over the next few weeks as Trump and his Republican allies try to figure out a way forward after their big push to overhaul Obamacare, the American Health Care Act, flopped on Friday. Why did the health-care bill founder? Perhaps in part because Trump — the guy who pledged during the campaign that only he could fix America’s problems, largely by making the best deals — didn’t adhere to those 11 key principles.” [WaPo]

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MEANWHILE, DEVIN NUNES IS STILL BIFFING IT - It seems to us that the intelligence committee is where lawmakers go to feel cool and in the loop. Devin Nunes seems to be neither at the moment. Jessica Schulberg and Alanna Horowitz Satlin: “The Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee called off a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday on possible ties between President Donald Trump’s associates and the Russian government, saying the group will hold a closed-door meeting first. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the highest ranking Democrat on the committee, called the decision by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) ‘a dodge’ and an ‘attempt to choke off public info.’ While Nunes characterized the change as a postponement, Schiff called it a cancellation. Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan had agreed to testify in front of the committee on March 28. But Nunes said the public hearing was being postponed because the committee needed to first hear from FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers in a private setting.” [HuffPost]

Also: “The House Intelligence Committee will also interview Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who volunteered to meet with the panel amid unsettling new reports about his ties to Russia, Nunes said. Manafort, who stepped down as Trump’s campaign chair in August, worked for a close Kremlin ally to help advance Russia’s interests in the U.S., according to The Associated Press. Nunes did not say whether or not Manafort would testify publicly, but Schiff urged the former campaign manager to appear in both an open and closed setting.” [Ibid.]

MIKE FLYNN: EXTRAJUDICIAL ACTIVITY ADVOCATE AND TRUMP ADVISER - Don’t call it “kidnapping,” call it, “involuntary exfiltration.” James V. Grimaldi, Dion Nissenbaum and Margaret Coker: “Retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, while serving as an adviser to the Trump campaign, met with top Turkish government ministers and discussed removing a Muslim cleric from the U.S. and taking him to Turkey, according to former Central Intelligence Agency Director James Woolsey, who attended, and others who were briefed on the meeting. The discussion late last summer involved ideas about how to get Fethullah Gulen, a cleric whom Turkey has accused of orchestrating last summer’s failed military coup, to Turkey without going through the U.S. extradition legal process, according to Mr. Woolsey and those who were briefed. Mr. Woolsey told The Wall Street Journal he arrived at the meeting in New York on Sept. 19 in the middle of the discussion and found the topic startling and the actions being discussed possibly illegal.” [WSJ]

PRO-TRUMP OUTSIDE GROUP ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL - Maybe the employees are too busy spending their weekends at Mar-a-Lago. Gotta set examples for your people, y’know. Shane Goldmacher: “Amid the biggest policy showdown of Donald Trump’s presidency, top White House aides are perplexed that an outside group created to boost him at such critical junctions was missing in action. The pro-Trump nonprofit, America First Policies, has been gripped by its own internal headaches as two of the six announced members of its leadership team have left in recent days, according to two officials involved with the group...With the health care law hanging in the balance, there were no TV ads, no brushbacks of wayward GOP lawmakers and no pointed reminders in key districts that every Republican nationwide ran on a platform or repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s namesake health care law.” [Politico]

DISCORD IN #MAGA-LAND - In fairness, to Secretary Tillerson, his wife hasn’t told him to nix the Paris agreement. Chris D’Angelo: “Myron Ebell, the longtime climate-science denier who led President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team until Trump’s inauguration, says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is among the “swamp creatures” that have infiltrated the president’s administration.  Speaking Friday at a climate conference hosted by the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank, Ebell took issue with Tillerson voicing support for keeping the United States in the historic Paris climate agreement — a pact Trump has promised to withdraw the U.S. from. ‘Rex Tillerson thinks it’s really nice to be able to go to international meetings and pal around with his fellow foreign ministers,’ he said. ‘Tillerson may be from Texas and he may have been CEO of Exxon, but he’s part of the swamp.’” [HuffPost]

NEVER FORGET - “As congressional Republicans mark the seventh anniversary of the Affordable Care Act by trying to repeal it, let us pause to reflect on a somewhat less auspicious anniversary. A year ago Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called Donald Trump a ‘sniveling coward.’” [HuffPost]

@seungminkim: Points for creativity: Dems led by Udall unveil the “Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness (MAR-A-LAGO) Act”

STAY CLASSY, CAPITOL POLICE - Daniel Marans: “Disability rights activists from across the country who were arrested this week at a Capitol building protest of the Republican health care bill will have to return to Washington to pay $50 fines. The 54 far-flung activists who converged on Capitol Hill Wednesday to demonstrate against Medicaid cuts in the GOP legislation must pay their fines in person within 15 days of their arrests, U.S. Capitol Police told The Huffington Post.” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a boy reconciling himself with llamas.

PIZZAGATE GUNMAN SENTENCED - Ending D.C.’s nightmare until Mike Cernovich suggests that there’s a vote buying operation being run out of Georgetown Cupcake. Ryan Reilly: “A conspiracy-driven man who fired his assault rifle inside a D.C. pizza restaurant pled guilty on Friday to federal and local charges. Edgar Welch, 28, reportedly entered the local Comet Ping Pong on Dec. 4, 2016, wielding his rifle and threatening the restaurant’s employees and customers. On Friday, he pled guilty to a federal charge of interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition as well as a local charge of assault with a dangerous weapon. Under a plea agreement, the government agreed to recommend a reduction in his sentence if Welch “clearly demonstrates acceptance of responsibility.” His plea agreement indicates that Welch was previously convicted of driving while impaired in his home state of North Carolina.” [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Transform any image into a waving flag.

TWITTERAMA

@Alex_Roarty: GOP aide on CapHill: “I’m starting to think that while we’re pretty good at winning elections, we’re not great at the whole governing thing”

@BrandyLJensen: kinda fascinated by the interior lives of people who accuse me of body shaming the president

@aedwardslevy: HOW A BILL BECOMES A NAHHH

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