Republicans float new ObamaCare replacement plan

House Republicans are shopping around a new ObamaCare replacement plan, amid pressure to deliver a legislative win as President Trump nears the end of his first 100 days.

“We’re very close,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Wednesday at an event in London.

Fox News is told they hope to have revised legislative text in the coming days, and lawmakers are set to discuss the proposal on a conference call this weekend. But it’s unclear when such a plan could hit the House floor or what level of support it might have – Congress is currently on recess, and lawmakers won’t return until next week.

Fox News is told that leaders have not yet tried tallying support for the document on Capitol Hill.

“The question is whether it can get 216 votes in the House and the answer isn’t clear at this time,” a senior GOP aide said. “There is no legislative text and therefore no agreement to do a whip count on.”

A White House source said they could potentially have a vote by the end of next week, though they put the chances at 50-50.

The failure in March to pass an earlier replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act, amid widespread criticism of the plan, marked a major setback for Trump’s early presidency. He has since turned his attention to foreign affairs – especially the Syrian crisis – but continues to press for a new health care plan, blaming a bloc of House conservatives for the March meltdown.

Complicating any renewed efforts, however, is next Friday’s deadline for Congress to pass a new budget measure. Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration likely will have to court Democrats to avoid this scenario. Further, the timetable is tight, with the House not set to return until Tuesday night.

Interestingly, the government shutdown drama and health care could be directly linked.

Just days ago, Trump declared he would yank subsidies known as “cost-sharing reductions” from ObamaCare programs. The government directs the CSR payments to insurers who grant coverage to low-income people. A dried-up subsidy could force insurers to drop ObamaCare and spike premiums for the poor.

Trump views the ObamaCare subsidies as leverage to force Democrats to the table on health care. Democrats contend the president is holding the health care assistance “hostage” and imperiling those who aren’t well off.

“The spending bill cannot be done by one party alone,” opined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., before the recess. “These bills can’t pass without a reasonable number of Democratic supporters in the Senate.”

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and John Roberts contributed to this report. 

Ex-Freedom Caucus member: Some in the group ‘would vote no against the Ten Commandments’

Dylan Stableford 15 hours ago

Senate Democrats may seek deal with GOP to confirm Gorsuch, stave off ‘nuclear’ option

As Judge Neil Gorsuch breezed through the home stretch of confirmation hearings Thursday, Senate Democrats’ struck a defiant public posture while looking behind the scenes for a possible deal that could set up the next Supreme Court nomination battle.

Gorsuch, the 49-year-old 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals judge, came through three days of grueling hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee largely unscathed. With confirmation by the full Senate looming, sources told Fox News Democrats were weighing a number of strategic options — including a stand down in exchange for a GOP pledge to not go “nuclear” on a future nomination by President Trump — despite their public statements.

“He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday, referring to the threshold for ending a filibuster and preventing the minority party from blocking the confirmation.

Judge Gorsuch’s nomination will face a cloture vote & as I’ve said, he will have to earn sixty votes for confirmation. My vote will be “No.”

But after even Gorsuch’s critics conceded the squeaky-clean, Harvard-trained jurist deftly parried his Democratic critics’ questions and came off as likeable and intelligent, Schumer’s vow is likely more bargaining stance than threat, sources said. Gorsuch was nominated January 31 to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Confirmation hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee will conclude, but the nominee finished his testimony on Wednesday.

Republicans, who hold 52 seats in the upper chamber, have the option of changing Senate rules so that a filibuster can be ended with a simple majority vote. Democrats, when in the majority during the Obama administration, made the rules change effective for all non-Supreme Court nominations.

Democrats are leery of pressing the ongoing confirmation process to the point Republicans invoke the so-called nuclear option, as it would make a subsequent Trump nomination a fait accompli. But on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed doubt that any Democrats would vote to confirm Gorsuch, a strong signal the Kentucky Republican is ready to change the rule.

“It does sound like he’s laying the groundwork for the nuclear option,” Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin said of McConnell. “Let’s wait and see how this evolves.”

Trump Adviser for the Supreme Court Leonard Leo scoffed at the idea Republicans could be pressured into withholding the nuclear option in exchange for Gorsuch’s confirmation.

“This absurd ‘deal’ would prolong an environment in which Democrat Supreme Court nominees get up or down simple majority votes and Republican nominees get filibustered — that’s not a deal, it’s a unilateral disarmament,” Leo said.

Democrats from states that supported Trump in the presidential election could find themselves under pressure from voters to not appear obstructionist, especially to an appealing nominee. But Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who is up for re-election in 2018, said Thursday he would not vote for Gorsuch.

“After considering his nomination seriously and without pre-judgment, and mindful of the awesome responsibility of passing judgments on nominees to the highest court in the nation, I do not believe Judge Gorsuch’s judicial approach will ensure fairness for workers and families in Pennsylvania,” Casey said. “I have concluded that Judge Gorsuch is not the right choice to fulfill this commitment — I will not support his nomination.”

The vote could take place as early as Monday, but Democrats are expected to ask for a one-week delay, pushing the Committee vote to April 3, and then immediately to the Senate floor.

Top Senate Republicans said they would do what they needed to do to get Gorsuch through to the bench.

And McConnell is confident.

“We’ll confirm him before we leave for the April recess.”

Fox News’ William Mears contributed to this report.

Brooke Singman is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

For G.O.P. Candidates, Renouncing Donald Trump Carries Dire Risks


A supporter of Donald J. Trump outside a rally featuring Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, Mr. Trump’s running mate, on Monday in Charlotte, N.C. CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times
Paula Barche Rupnik, a Republican from Scottsdale, Ariz., was planning to vote for Senator John McCain in his re-election campaign this year. But she changed her mind this weekend, after he rescinded his support for Donald J. Trump.
Instead, she plans to split her ticket, voting for Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, but for Mr. McCain’s Democratic challenger, Representative Ann Kirkpatrick.
She has never voted for a Democrat before.
“I want to send a message to John McCain,” said Ms. Rupnik, 58, a consultant for an essential oils company. “If he doesn’t get elected, the American people that support Trump are going to blame it on those Republicans who didn’t support him.”
Ms. Rupnik’s punitive impulse captures the dilemma confronting Republican leaders as they head into the final four weeks of the campaign.
Sticking by Mr. Trump after the surfacing of a 2005 recording in which he could be heard speaking about women in vulgar terms and bragging about being able to get away with sexual assault would subject Republican candidates to devastating and, quite possibly, career-ending attack.
But disavowing Mr. Trump, whose supporters make up the largest share of the Republican base, risks alienating those voters, potentially a no less lethal choice for Senate candidates in key races. And if Mr. Trump loses to Hillary Clinton, as polls now indicate is likely, the loss of those Senate contests could be crushing for a party that was already teetering and counting on a chance to rebuild after the election. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted just before the debate showed Mr. Trump’s support cratering, with Mrs. Clinton assuming an 11-point lead nationally.
Still, Mr. Trump has die-hard supporters who have shown they will stay with him through every controversy he has sparked or endured. His populist, outsider message may be at odds with his background and even with some of his policy proposals, but it has taken hold with many voters, particularly working-class Republicans who are disenchanted with the party’s elite and deeply unhappy with President Obama’s stands on health care and immigration.
“The establishment is trying to hold on to their power, and McCain is one of them,” Ms. Rupnik said.
That was a common theme in interviews with Trump supporters on Sunday in Arizona and New Hampshire, two states with close Senate contests. Many spoke witheringly of incumbent Republican lawmakers who have renounced their support for the party’s presidential nominee.
Stephen Cotta, 61, a Navy veteran who owns a cannabis testing lab in Tempe, described Mr. McCain as a “traitor” and echoed Mr. Trump’s view that he was “not a hero.” Mr. Cotta said he, too, would vote for Ms. Kirkpatrick.
“If you can see McCain and Hillary aren’t that far apart on their philosophies, O.K., that’s why they can stand up so adamantly to Trump,” Mr. Cotta said.

A supporter waving a campaign sign during a Donald J. Trump campaign rally at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim, Pa., this month. CreditMark Makela for The New York Times
Vera Anderson, 75, of Phoenix, said she had voted for Mr. McCain before, but made up her mind to oppose him when she learned of his rejection of Mr. Trump.
“I was really on the fence of voting for McCain,” she said. “I don’t want to, didn’t want to, but this made up my mind: I will not vote for him in the general election.”
She was dismissive of the outrage over the 2005 recording that surfaced on Friday.
“Nobody likes to hear anything like that, but to me that’s not the important issue, so I absolutely, just — I’m not paying attention to it,” Ms. Anderson said. “You know, to me, that is men’s locker-room talk. And I’m sure that if anybody wants to criticize that, let them look at themselves first.”
There was similar disgust among Mr. Trump’s supporters in New Hampshire, where Senator Kelly Ayotte — locked in a tight re-election battle against Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat — became the first senator to disavow Mr. Trump after the recording’s publication.
“I think the Republican Party is out for itself,” said Buddy Greene, a 48-year-old stonemason from Center Harbor, N.H., who said he supported Mr. Trump in the Republican primary in February. “They are not looking at issues of regular folk in the country.”
As he watched the New England Patriots play on television at the Frog Rock Tavern in Meredith, N.H., Mr. Greene said Ms. Ayotte had lost his support. But he said he had already come to see her as overly politically motivated.
“It does not surprise me with her,” Mr. Greene said. He said he planned to leave his ballot blank for the Senate contest.
As Mr. Trump becomes more isolated from the Republican Party, elected officials risk being isolated from their own voters.
Mr. Greene said he admired Mr. Trump’s speaking style and trusted that there would be “checks and balances” to prevent him from doing anything rash as president.
“I don’t believe any president has absolute control,” he said. “It’s not his fingers on the bomb.”
When a young boy listening pointed out that Mrs. Clinton had more political experience, Mr. Greene smiled. “That’s why I like Trump,” he said. “Because he has no experience. I want change.”
For Mr. McCain, the decision to break with Mr. Trump is cushioned by the knowledge that he is on course to win re-election. Ms. Ayotte is in a tight race with Ms. Hassan, and her choice was fraught with more peril.
Some Trump supporters in New Hampshire said they still planned to vote for Ms. Ayotte, but grudgingly, and more out of dislike for Ms. Hassan.
One of them was Eric Granfors, a 44-year-old truck driver from Nashua, who had harsh words for Ms. Ayotte and her reasoning.
“To see Kelly Ayotte coming out and saying that she doesn’t endorse him now? I think she’s a sellout,” Mr. Granfors said. “You know he’s said a lot of bad things along the way. And now with another sound bite, she says this is the one where she isn’t going to endorse him?”

Continue reading the main story

Trump provokes uproar with call for Russia to hack into Clinton’s email

Trump’s outlandish call was rejected not only by the Clinton campaign but also a top Republican leader and by Trump’s running mate. Trump implied that his curiosity over the missing emails overides national security.

Trump gestures with outstretched arms behind podium during press conference.

While Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is doubling down on his call for Russia to hack into his opponent’s emails, a chorus of condemnation for such action came swiftly, including a rejection from his own vice presidential running mate.

During a Wednesday press conference in Florida Trump invited Russian hackers to infiltrate Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s email server.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. “I think you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press!”

He was referring to emails that went missing from the private server Clinton used while Secretary of State. Despite the lapse, the FBI concluded after a year-long investigation that prosecutors had no grounds to file charges against Clinton, or any of her aides.

Trump’s appeal to Russia provoked an uproar not only from the Clinton campaign but from Republican leaders and Trump’s own vice-presidential candidate.

Clinton’s top advisor, Jake Sullivan, slammed Trump for encouraging Russia to trawl the former secretary of state’s emails, describing his comments as a “national security issue.”

“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” Sullivan said. “That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

GOP rejects Trump call

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesman Brendan Buck rejected Trump’s call, saying Putin and the Russian government had no business meddling in the US election.

“Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug,” Buck said in a statement. “Putin should stay out of this election.”

And no sooner had Trump reaffirmed his appeal than his vice-presidential running mate, Mike Pence, rejected it.

“The FBI will get to the bottom of who is behind the hacking,” Pence said in a statement. “If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences.”

Before Trump’s latest bombshell, President Barack Obama weighed in on the Republican candidate’s relationship with Putin,

“Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin,” Obama said during a sit-down interview with NBC News that aired Tuesday. “And I think that Trump’s gotten pretty favorable coverage back in Russia.”


Security experts say it appears likely that Russian agents hacked into the email server of the Democratic National Committee over the past year. The claim is being investigated by the FBI, but Trump maintains he not bothered by such a prospect.

“No, it gives me no pause,” the celebrity businessman said. “If Russia or China or any of those country gets those emails, I’ve got to be honest with you, I’d love to see them.”

bik/kms, kl (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)


McConnell: Donald Trump ‘Doesn’t Know a Lot About the Issues’

The Senate GOP leader says he is still “comfortable” with Trump at the top of the ticket but doesn’t rule out rescinding his support.
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June 10, 2016 — 2:00 AM PDT Updated on June 10, 2016 — 5:33 AM PDT
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Top Republicans Continue to Repudiate Donald Trump

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Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, gestures during a primary night event at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Tuesday, June 7, 2016. Hillary Clinton declared herself the victor in the Democratic nomination race, becoming the first woman to run as the presidential candidate of a major U.S. political party, and immediately launched her general election campaign with an attack on presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on June 8, 2016, en route to New York.
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that Donald Trump needs to pick an experienced running mate because “he doesn’t know a lot about the issues” and strongly urged him to change course on his rhetoric.
In an extraordinarily frank interview with Bloomberg Politics’ Masters in Politics podcast, McConnell, who is on a book tour touting his autobiography The Long Game, also expressed broader concerns about the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
“He needs someone highly experienced and very knowledgeable because it’s pretty obvious he doesn’t know a lot about the issues,” McConnell said. “You see that in the debates in which he’s participated. It’s why I have argued to him publicly and privately that he ought to use a script more often—there is nothing wrong with having prepared texts.”
The Kentucky Republican’s frustration with Trump has been clear, especially this week after Trump’s tarring of Judge Gonzalo Curiel as biased against him because the Indiana-born former prosecutor is “Mexican.” Still, McConnell said he remains “comfortable” backing Trump.
“For all of his obvious shortcomings, Donald Trump is certainly a different direction, and I think if he is in the White House he’ll have to respond to the right-of-center world which elected him, and the things that we believe in. So I’m comfortable supporting him,” McConnell said.
But his attacks on ethnic groups and fellow Republicans need to end, the lawmaker said.
“I object to a whole series of things that he’s said—vehemently object to them. I think all of that needs to stop. Both the shots at people he defeated in the primary and these attacks on various ethnic groups in the country.”
McConnell, perhaps the most careful and strategic politician in Washington, rarely goes off script himself, and has been sending Trump the same message for weeks in hopes he’ll pivot to the general election.
McConnell said staying on script “indicates a level of seriousness that I think is important to convey to American people about the job you are seeking.”
“I think he’d have a much better chance of winning if he would quit making so many unfortunate public utterances and stick to the script,” he said.
McConnell said he delivered that message in person when the two were in the green room together at the recent National Rifle Association convention in Louisville.
Shorter and sweeter than the campaign speeches.

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“I said, ‘Hey Donald, you got a script?’ and he pulled it out of his pocket. He said, ‘You know I hate scripts, they’re so boring.’ And I said, ‘Put me down in favor of boring. You’ve demonstrated that you have a lot of Twitter followers and you’re good at turning on a big audience. Now you need to demonstrate you have the seriousness of purpose that is required to be president of the United States, and most candidates on frequent occasions use a script.’ So we’ll see whether that’s something he’s capable of doing.”
Trump, of course, did just that when faced with the firestorm over his judge remarks Tuesday night—and Republican senators clearly would like to see more of the same.
McConnell meanwhile, dismissed the idea of Trump tossing out the party’s orthodoxy.
“Our nominee is not going to redefine what being a Republican is,” he said. “I think the platform will remain largely the same. In all of the primaries this year for lesser office than president, the so-called establishment figures have won almost every single race. These are people who believe in the basic core principles of the Republican Party.”
While McConnell pronounced himself “comfortable” with Trump, he didn’t sound particularly enthusiastic, but suggested Trump, at least, can claim the mantle of being the candidate of change.
“I think the choice for many Americans is not a happy choice,” he said. “You look at both these candidates, both of them have very high disapproval ratings. I think a lot of Americans are not going be thrilled at the choice.
“But this is the choice, and I think, for me, and I hope for a lot of others, the question to be dealt with is this: Do we want four more years just like the last eight, or do we want to go in a different direction?”
He wouldn’t rule out rescinding his support of Trump.
“I’m not going to speculate about what he might say, or what I might do. But I think it’s pretty clear and I’ve been pretty clear publicly about how I think he ought to change direction and I hope that’s what we are going to see.”
And McConnell sought to separate his large flock of Republican senators running for re-election from Trump.
“Senate races are big enough to rise or fall on their own,” he said. “We’ve got a number of senators who will have the resources and the record to paint their own picture,” he said.
McConnell predicted neither presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton nor Trump would have coattails.
“You generally have coattails when people not only want to elect you but they want you to do anything you can do,” he said, pointing to Ronald Reagan’s 1980 victory and Barack Obama’s in 2008.
“I think this is going to be a ticket-splitting year no matter which candidate gets elected president,” he said.
McConnell pointed to his wife, former U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, as the kind of voter Republicans need to appeal to.
“She’s a first-generation immigrant who came here at age 8 not speaking a word of English—a woman on top of it—an accomplished woman on top of it,” he said. “Those are the kind of women voters that Republicans need to appeal to. Minorities, women.”
He pointed to the changing demographics of the country, with white voters making up a smaller and smaller percentage of the electorate.
“We are not going to be competitive in presidential elections appealing only to white voters and particularly writing off white women. So beyond the unfortunate part of the various things that our nominee has said—it’s not smart politically.”
Also speaking to Masters in Politics in this episode was Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri, who indicated Clinton plans to ignore Trump’s personal attacks on her. “If that’s how he wants to run the campaign, if that’s what he thinks is going to work for him, I guess that’s his decision, and her decision and her choice is to ignore it,” the aide said.
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Trump campaign defends move to fundraise, says ‘plenty of time’ to unite GOP

Donald Trump strategist Paul Manafort argued Sunday that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee hasn’t misled supporters by saying during the GOP primaries that he was a self-funded candidate who “couldn’t be bought” and now trying to raise money for the general election.

Manafort told “Fox News Sunday” that Trump made the announcement to fundraise last week after becoming the Republican’s presumptive presidential nominee, because he now leads the party and needs to match the millions of dollars that Democrats will raise to elect their candidates in November.

“He is the head of the party and will be electing not just the president, but will be electing senators, congressmen, governors and local council people,” Manafort said.

“The Democrats have said they’re going to be spending hundreds of millions of dollars to try and spread lies about Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Trump has said to compete against them he will support the party and the party’s efforts.”

The change was marked last week when Trump, a billionaire businessman, named a finance chairman.

Manafort said the chairman would be for Trump’s presidential campaign, with Trump at the top of the GOP’s November ballot, but acknowledged that some of the money raised will go toward Trump’s White House bid.

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Manafort, a long-time political strategist hired several weeks ago as Trump’s convention manager, also downplayed the lack of Trump support so far from the Republican establishment.

He suggested the country is still trying to process Trump becoming the presumptive nominee with an unexpected win Tuesday in the Indiana primary that knocked out the last two GOP rivals — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

“It’s a healing process,” Manafort said Sunday. “The media’s expectations that the day after the Indiana primary … everything was going to come together in one moment was unrealistic.”

He also argued that Trump ran as an outsider and wasn’t a candidate of the leaders.

“We have plenty of time to put the party together,” Manafort said. “And I think you’re going to see a successful, united party.”

He also defended Trump for his attacks on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, including bringing up the infidelity of husband President Bill Clinton and how she handled the aftermath.

He argued that Hillary Clinton has accused Trump of being unfair to women.

“Donald Trump has made it very clear he is not going to allow hypocrisy on the women’s issue,” Manafort said. “He is not going to let Hillary make the case that he is against women and she is this defender of women’s rights.”


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