POLITICS
04/04/2017 05:04 pm ET

House Republicans Pushing Boulder Back Up Hill

The GOP health care overhaul remains a longshot.
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

President Trump said that factory closings aren’t happening anymore, so if you meet a laid-off factory worker, make sure you tell him he’s fake news. Paul Ryan’s stock is down among Hill staffers, a phenomenon Ryan attributed to their inner-city culture. And Republicans are working on a new version of their health care reform bill, which only seems like a foolish thing to try to do until you realize it’s all an elaborate ruse to distract us from the REAL Trump agenda. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, April 4, 2017: 

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REPUBLICAN HEALTH CARE BILL ALIVE, STILL DOOMED - Scott Wong: “Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday afternoon hosted the leaders of the three major GOP caucuses as lawmakers try to work out a deal to resuscitate the Republican healthcare bill. No agreement was made during the half-hour meeting in the Speaker’s office, but some participants emerged more optimistic about their chances to repeal and replace ObamaCare. ‘I feel like we’re closer than we’ve ever been,’ one GOP lawmaker who attended the meeting told The Hill.” [The Hill]

THE PLAN: MAKE INSURANCE LESS GOOD - Matt Fuller: “That agreement, which is still far from a reality, would hinge on Republicans accepting changes to their health care bill that would violate a key promise from President Donald Trump, namely that insurers would have to offer plans to people with pre-existing conditions. While those regulations would still technically exist, the idea is that the House bill would now allow states to opt out of ‘community rating’ regulations, which compel insurers to offer plans at the same rate for sick people. Ditching those protections would let insurers charge exorbitant rates for people with pre-existing conditions while also offering plans that don’t offer key services, like maternity care, hospitalization or lab services. Conservatives believe those people would then go into so-called high-risk pools for coverage, but the effect would still likely lead to people who need health care the most paying the most ― or not being able to afford coverage at all....Republicans have no timeline on a vote, though the White House seems to prefer passing the bill as soon as possible, potentially even this week so that Republicans don’t have a chance to go home for a scheduled recess next week and be dissuaded by constituents.” [HuffPost]

REPUBLICAN HILL STAFFERS ARE SAD - Shawn Zeller:Republican aides are reeling from the implosion of their party’s attempt to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, according to the latest CQ Roll Call Capitol Insiders Survey. Paul D. Ryan’s approval rating among House GOP staffers has dropped to its lowest level since he became speaker in 2015, plummeting from 85 percent three weeks after Election Day to 44 percent in March.” [Roll Call]

MITCH MCCONNELL: I AM A TOOL OF DEMOCRATS - Mike McAuliff:McConnell and the GOP seem intent on using the ‘nuclear option,’ which amounts to changing the rules midstream through a series of procedural votes that require only simple majorities to pass. It’s the same thing Democrats did in 2013 after Republicans had forced hundreds of filibuster-ending cloture votes on Obama nominees, including blockades of three seats on the nation’s second highest court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. While it was Republicans obstructing nominees then, and Republicans who accused Democrats at the time of ‘break[ing] the rules to change the rules,’ McConnell said in his Tuesday morning floor speech that if he does the same thing now, it would be the Democrats’ fault. ‘It should be unsettling to everyone that our colleagues across the aisle have brought the Senate to this new low, and with such an impressive nominee with such broad bipartisan support,’ McConnell said. ‘The Democrats said that they will filibuster against him, something that Republicans have never done,’ McConnell said. ‘No one in the Senate Republican conference ― no one ― has ever filibustered to a Supreme Court nominee.’”  [HuffPost]

@RepAdamSchiff: When McConnell deprived President Obama of a vote on Garland, it was a nuclear option. The rest is fallout.

TODAY IN FAKE POPULISM - Dave Jamieson: “President Trump signed legislation late Monday loosening the reporting requirements that employers face when workers get hurt or sick due to their jobs. By scuttling a rule issued by President Obama, Trump and Republicans in Congress have effectively shortened the amount of time that employers in dangerous industries can be required to keep accurate records of worker injuries ― from five years to just six months. The GOP-controlled Congress used an arcane legislative tool known as the Congressional Review Act in an effort to repeal the Obama regulation last month, drawing sharp rebukes from Democrats. By signing the bill, Trump may be legally preventing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from rolling out a similar rule in the future.” [HuffPost]

SUSAN RICE IS BACK! S.V. Date: “President Donald Trump’s White House is turning its fire on a favorite Republican villain as it tries to deflect attention from his campaign’s contacts with the foreign power that worked to get him elected. Susan Rice, the Obama administration’s national security adviser, became a GOP scapegoat for her initial explanation for the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. Now, she has again become the go-to culprit for her possible role in “unmasking” the names of Trump associates in intelligence reports during the final weeks of President Barack Obama’s tenure. ‘The more we find out about this, the more we learn that there was clearly something there,’ White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday. ‘There is a civil liberties component to this that should be very troubling.’ [HuffPost]

SUSAN RICE DENIES ‘UNMASKING’ THING, ‘WIRE TAPPING’ THING - Christina Wilkie and Jessica Schulberg: “Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Tuesday denied that the Obama administration had ever used the process of ‘unmasking’ American citizens mentioned in intelligence reports for any political purpose. ‘The allegation is that somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes ― that’s absolutely false,’ Rice told NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell in an interview.  President Donald Trump claimed last month in a series of tweets that his predecessor Barack Obama ordered the ‘wire tapping’ of Trump Tower during the presidential election. Intelligence officials have found no evidence has been produced to back up the president’s claims, which Rice called ‘completely false.’... She never revealed the identities of any of the Trump associates whose names appeared in the unmasked reports, Rice said. ‘I leaked nothing to nobody, and I never have and never will,’ she added.” [HuffPost]

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TODAY IN ATROCITIES - There goes that red line again. Ellen Francis: “A suspected Syrian government chemical attack killed scores of people, including children, in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday, a monitoring group, medics and rescue workers in the rebel-held area said….The head of the health authority in rebel-held Idlib said more than 50 people had been killed and 300 wounded… The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack killed at least 58 people and was believed to have been carried out by Syrian government jets. It caused many people to choke, and some to foam at the mouth.” [Reuters]

TRUMP BLAMES OBAMA -  Alana Horowitz Satlin, Eline Gordts: “White House press secretary Sean Spicer reacted to what appears to be Syria’s worst chemical attack in years by blaming former President Barack Obama. ‘Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people, including women and children, is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,’ Spicer said on Tuesday. ‘These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution.’ ‘President Obama said in 2012 he would establish a red line against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing,’ Spicer continued. ‘The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable act.’” [HuffPost]

TRUMP IN 2013: “AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA - IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!” [Twitter]

ISIS called Donald Trump “an idiot.”

NAFTA IS TRUMP’S NEXT BIG SCREWUP - Michael Grunwald: “Health care and trade don’t have much in common beyond complexity and political sensitivity. But there are striking similarities between Trump’s approach to Obamacare and his approach to the North American Free Trade Agreement, the 23-year-old pact with Mexico and Canada that he’s called the worst trade deal in history. The parallels include his over-the-top dystopian attacks on their disastrous stupidity, his over-the-top utopian pledges to replace them with a terrific alternative to be named later, and his blithe confidence that his negotiating partners would give him what he wanted.” [Politico]

TRUMP BLOWS KISSES TO CEOS - Matt Shuham: “President Donald Trump promised a room of CEOs on Tuesday that he would pursue ‘a very major haircut on Dodd-Frank,’ the package of financial reforms passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. After taking questions from the business leaders in the room, among them NYSE Group President Thomas W. Farley and Mastercard President and CEO Ajay Banga, Trump said that he would trim regulations that had made bank executives ‘petrified’ of government regulators.” [TPM]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Some companies are pulling ads from Bill O’Reilly’s show following the latest claims that he’s a serial sexual harasser.

HOW THE NEXT WORLD WAR COULD START - David Wood: “By now, it is widely recognized that Russia is waging a campaign of covert political manipulation across the United States, Europe and the Middle East, fueling fears of a second Cold War. But it’s less understood that in international airspace and waters, Russia and the U.S. are brushing up against each other in perilous ways with alarming frequency. This problem, which began not long after Russia’s seizure of the Crimea in 2014, has accelerated rapidly in the past year. In 2015, according to its air command headquarters, NATO scrambled jets more than 400 times to intercept Russian military aircraft that were flying without having broadcast their required identification code or having filed a flight plan. In 2016, that number had leapt to 780—an average of more than two intercepts a day. There has been a similar increase in Russian jets intercepting US or NATO aircraft, as well as a significant uptick in incidents at sea in which Russian jets run mock attacks against American warships.” [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Admire these fine cabins

- Rich lady in fur coat is Ivanka Trump’s “petty neighbor

- The evil new toy that must be destroyed

TWITTERAMA

@Swin24: GOP House source just now: “Zombie Trumpcare is exactly that: a zombie―slow moving, disintegrating.”

@NYTMinusContext: Sean Spicer has definitely seen Donald Trump naked

@AbbyDPhillip: Trump: “I had the support, I would say, of almost everybody in this room.”


Widespread boos in the room.

 

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