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Latest from Jamie Dupree

    Republican plans for tax reform could be less sweeping than originally envisioned by the White House and GOP leaders in Congress, as a provision in a House GOP budget blueprint would require any tax bill to be ‘budget neutral,’ which would force lawmakers to offset any tax cuts with revenue increases that could be difficult in some cases to gain approval. Deep in the fine print of the budget resolution for next year, the Republican plan allows for a tax reform bill under budget reconciliation, “if such measure would not increase the deficit for the total of fiscal years 2018 through 2027.” In other words, you can’t just cut taxes – which technically deprive the federal treasury of revenue, and therefore increase the budget deficit – you have to find revenue to pay for those tax cuts. And Republicans on the House Budget Committee were actively trumpeting that message. It’s time for deficit-neutral #taxreform, and our budget makes that possible. pic.twitter.com/naed7nv7o9 — House Budget GOP (@housebudgetGOP) July 19, 2017 On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan was touting tax reform during a trip to a New Balance factory in Massachusetts. “First and foremost, we’re going to cut your taxes,” the Speaker said. But when a tax plan is deficit neutral – a cut for one person means that revenue must be found somewhere else to offset that reduction – in other words, some other tax increase, mainly one would assume by taking away deductions in the tax code. And many veterans of Capitol Hill say that’s not going to be easy. “I spent much of 2011-16 negotiating tax reform proposals in the Senate,” said Brian Reidl, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, who used to work for Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). “Revenue-neutral tax reform will make health care look easy,” Riedl said in a post on Twitter. Key Republicans have made clear that they want to put together a proposal that dramatically simplifies the current tax system. “So 96% of the people can do their tax return on a single postcard size,” said House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Diane Black (R-TN). To do that, you would lower tax rates, and then most likely eliminate or reduce tax deductions – and that’s where things get tricky. Revenue neutral tax reform is hard. pic.twitter.com/B5ohufu90y — John Arnold (@JohnArnoldFndtn) July 20, 2017 Do you get rid of the deduction for mortgage insurance? Lots of people talk about that, but it always goes nowhere. What about the deduction for state and local taxes? That has bipartisan opposition in and around big cities on the East Coast. The tax break on employer provided health care benefits? That went nowhere fast in the negotiations over the GOP bill to overhaul the Obama health law. End or restrict the business interest deduction? Hard to imagine. Deficit neutral tax reform – it sounds wonky. But it’s a pretty important development that may rein in the scope of a GOP tax plan.
  • The White House communications team underwent a major change on Friday, as Press Secretary Sean Spicer turned in his resignation, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was elevated to Spicer’s job, and Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci was brought in by President Donald Trump to be the new Communications Director, delivering a new tone in dealing with the press. “The President is phenomenal with press,” said Scaramucci. “I love the President. The President is a very, very effective communicator.” While Scaramucci – known by many insiders as “Mooch” – made clear that he thinks the news media does not treat the President fairly, Mr. Trump’s new Communications Director laid out that message in a totally different way in his first few minutes in the White House Briefing Room. What is clear from Mooch's first fifteen minutes – he understands Trump in a way Spicer never was able to, from years-old relationship — Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) July 21, 2017 New White House Communications Dir. Scaramucci: 'The president is phenomenal with the press, and he's a great communicator.' pic.twitter.com/Mthqjsy31S — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 21, 2017 As for Spicer, he will be replaced at the podium by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who will move from Deputy to White House Press Secretary. Spicer, who battle relentlessly with the press, and never seemed to have the full confidence of the President, will officially leave the White House in August. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve President Donald Trump and this amazing country,” Spicer wrote on Twitter. “I will continue my service through August.” While there had been questions that Spicer wanted no part of working with Scaramucci, the next White House Communications Director went out of his way to praise Spicer. Scaramucci on Spicer: 'I would love to have Sean here. Sean decided he thought it would be better to go.' https://t.co/qxhTiObu1w pic.twitter.com/HgWl5765DB — CBS News (@CBSNews) July 21, 2017
  • Republican Senators headed home for the weekend still at odds over the details of a GOP bill to overhaul the Obama health law, as Senate leaders vowed to press ahead early next week with a first procedural vote on the matter, though it still isn’t clear what exactly the GOP might vote on in an effort to break the deadlock on this top agenda item of President Donald Trump. “The Democrats did their bill on their own, and obviously it’s got flaws that I think everyone would recognize; Republicans are beginning to feel like we’re getting into that same mode, if you want to be honest,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who said he worried that the GOP plan was being slapped together without an overall grand plan. With a procedural vote expected next week on a motion to start debate on the bill, it wasn’t even clear for Senators what GOP leaders would offer on the floor as an alternative to the House-passed health care bill. “I’m not yet decided,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) told a group of reporters pursuing him in the hallways of the Capitol. “It depends what’s in the bill.” And on that point, GOP leaders didn’t have an answer on the details. 'That's a luxury we don't have' – @JohnCornyn when asked 'don't some people want to know the plan before they vote' on health care. — Kelsey Snell (@kelsey_snell) July 20, 2017 GOP Senators were being pursued every-which-way-possible at the Capitol complex, as reporters sought the latest update on the health care bill. Down in the basement of the Capitol, as Senators arrived for votes, Democrats would walk by – and sometimes not one reporter would move; a few seconds later, a Republican Senator would walk off the subway, and was immediately mobbed by reporters. Sen Heller went for the taco salad pic.twitter.com/oNexT1St3z — Erica Werner (@ericawerner) July 20, 2017 “I think they want to talk to you,” a smiling Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said as reporters descended upon him and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-ND), who sold insurance for many years in his home state. “With the Obamacare model that’s in place today, you’re going to have increases in deductibles and co-pays,” Rounds argued to reporters, though GOP Senators haven’t rallied around what their full answer should be to reverse that. “You just have people committed to trying to fix this problem,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who has repeatedly made clear his frustration with how GOP leaders have tried to put together this bill. And that has led some Republicans to openly worry about how the GOP is forging a final plan. “It’s feeling a little bazaar like – like a bidding war right now,” Corker said. Demonstrating some of the frustration of the moment, Corker even suggested that his party go back to the idea of repealing large chunks of the Obama health law – without anything to replace it. “I am beginning to feel that the best way to do it would be just to repeal – set a two or three year transition period, and force both parties to get together,” Corker said. But there did not seem to be enough GOP votes for that idea. “Senate Republicans complain of chaos in healthcare effort,” was one headline in my morning email inbox – as it’s not clear which way the GOP is going on health care reform at this point. In the House, GOP lawmakers could only sit back and wait. “I’m hopeful that we’ll see the Senate try to regroup, look at the issue, and try to work it out,” said Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK). “I continue to trust that the Senate will do their job,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). Not only is there some frustation with the Senate among GOP lawmakers, but a little with the White House as well. “I really lay a lot of the blame on the Trump Administration itself,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH). “The President hasn’t really shown leadership and guidance on what the plan should be, and it’s left several different groups to work together to try to fashion one,” Turner said.
  • A day after a newspaper interview in which President Donald Trump raised questions about his choice for the job of Attorney General, the White House expressed public support for Jeff Sessions, saying Mr. Trump “has confidence in his ability” to lead the Department of Justice. “He was disappointed,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of the President’s view of Sessions and his recusal earlier this year from any involvement in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and possible links to the Trump campaign. “But clearly he has confidence in him or he would not be the Attorney General,” Sanders told reporters at an off-camera White House briefing. Sarah Sanders said if Trump didn't have confidence in Jeff Sessions as attorney general 'he wouldn't be in that position.' — Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) July 20, 2017 It was a much different answer than one publicly given to reporters in early June, when news surfaced of Mr. Trump’s frustration with Sessions and the Russia probe recusal, as the White House at that point refused to give any answer on whether the President wanted Sessions to quit. Here is the exchange between reporters and Spicer on the subject of Trump/Sessions pic.twitter.com/WF59VZ5E9q — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) June 6, 2017 Back then, supporters of Mr. Trump claimed the New York Times story was ‘fake news,’ but the President’s own words – in a New York Times interview on Wednesday – confirmed that Trump-Sessions frustration scenario. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else,” the President told a group of New York Times reporters. Earlier in the day at an unrelated news conference, the Attorney General was asked by reporters about Mr. Trump’s remarks, and gave no hint about possibly resigning. AG Sessions: 'I have the honor of serving as attorney general…I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate.' pic.twitter.com/suukiMokyE — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 20, 2017 Back in June, it was reported that Sessions – stung by the President’s frustration over the Russia-recusal matter – had offered to resign his post. Sessions was the very first GOP Senator to endorse Mr. Trump, in late February of 2016. In Congress, Democrats seized on Mr. Trump’s remarks, saying it was obvious that the President wanted someone in the job of Attorney General who would squelch the Russia investigation. “The smoke billows higher and higher,” said Rep. Don McEachin (D-VA), “the fire is likely not too far behind.”
  • President Donald Trump marks six full months in office on Thursday, still pressing lawmakers in the House and Senate to act on a bill to overhaul the Obama health law, as the Republican Congress continues to struggle on a variety of fronts to produce a major legislative victory for Mr. Trump, with no action yet on tax cuts, a balanced budget or government reforms. But the President’s backers argue that while his agenda is not moving at top speed in the Congress, he has had successes in some areas. Let’s take a look at where Mr. Trump stands: 1. Biggest Trump success remains Justice Gorsuch. Ask just about anyone on Capitol Hill about the President’s record so far, and they will probably talk about getting Neil Gorsuch on the U.S. Supreme Court. For conservatives, this is a very big deal, and the few rulings that Gorsuch was involved in at the end of the 2016-2017 term seemed to indicate that he will be a justice in the mold of his predecessor, Antonin Scalia. The best part about this achievement is that Gorsuch is only 49 years old – he will turn 50 next month – meaning he could be on the U.S. Supreme Court, and leave his imprint on the law, for several decades. Any conservative who is not celebrating @realDonaldTrump for the supreme court justice Neil Gorsuch is a hypocrite — Benjamin (@BenjCharis) July 19, 2017 2. Crackdown on illegal immigration yields big changes. In terms of policy so far, the President’s tough line on enforcing existing immigration laws, and deporting illegal immigrants has already been a success for the President. As of the end of June, the feds had arrested almost 66,000 people for being in the U.S. illegally – 48,000 of those people had been convicted of a crime. “73 percent — of everyone we have arrested were criminals, something that’s been lost in the messaging on immigration enforcement,” said Tom Homan, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The numbers from along the border are also a big change, and something that most Republicans see as a big plus for the President. Border Patrol union chief praises 'miraculous' drop in illegal immigration under Trump https://t.co/SJRfQ5Uvzc — Drew McKissick (@DrewMcKissick) July 19, 2017 3. Rolling back Executive Branch regulations. In terms of administrative change, just by being in charge, President Trump has forced change in various federal agencies, rolling back or slowing or changing a host of rules that had been planned during the Obama Administration. Congress also got in on the action, by approving 14 different resolutions that overturned specific regulations approved late in the Obama Administration, which is really the most significant action by lawmakers so far in terms of legislation. Getting rid of regulations is a big winner with Trump supporters, many of whom believe the Obama Administration was strangling business with all sorts of red tape and government requirements. Remove burdensome business regulations. When their operating costs go down and profits go up, they will hire more Americans. Trump gets it. — norcalgunguy (@norcalgunguy) July 13, 2017 4. Trump shakes things up at the White House. The televised White House briefing has become an endangered species over recent months, as the President’s communications team has seemingly decided to keep the daily briefing off TV. (I’m not complaining about that – they’re in charge, and they set the rules.) Originally, the Trump Team was going to shake things up in the briefing by bringing in more conservative voices to the briefing room, and by using “Skype seats” to bring in questions from outside of Washington, in hopes of generating friendlier queries about the Trump agenda. But those efforts didn’t make much of an impact at all. Refusing to call on CNN or the New York Times didn’t have much of an impact, either. And not televising the briefing is a dual-edged sword – yes, you don’t have reporters possibly playing ‘gotcha’ with their questions – but you don’t give your own administration an elevated voice on TV, either. The last on camera White House briefing was June 29. — Hunter Walker (@hunterw) July 18, 2017 5. Trump Agenda still on slow-motion in Congress. One thing that President Trump has not been able to do is translate his election win into action by lawmakers in the Congress on major agenda items. Yes, the GOP passed a series of special resolutions to repeal certain regulations of the Obama Administration. But health care remains in limbo at this point, and there has been no action as yet on tax reform, the Trump $1 trillion infrastructure plan, lawmakers are ignoring much of the President’s budget, and no votes have been taken yet on money for the wall along the border with Mexico. Again, we are only six months in to the Trump Administration, so there is still a lot of time to get things done. But there is also the chance that Mr. Trump may have a skimpy record of legislative achievements as the calendar turns in the rest of 2017. This is one area where the Trump team – and GOP leaders in Congress – need to buckle down, and figure out how to turn things in the right direction. 6. Russia probe not going away anytime soon. With his latest interview for the New York Times showing again how the Russia probe deeply aggravates him, President Trump will not be able to escape the matter in coming months. Next week, his son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to appear before two Senate committees, his son Donald Jr. will be at one hearing, along with Kushner and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Also hanging over everything is the probe being led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who is assembling a top notch team of prosecutors and investigators. The President’s own frustration has boiled over repeatedly on this matter, especially on Twitter, and in many ways, that has only expanded the investigation because of things Mr. Trump has said. Whether you think it’s right or not, Russia will continue to be a big deal. In Interview, Trump Expresses Anger at Sessions and Comey, and Warns Mueller @peterbakernyt @nytmike and me https://t.co/0guEatTwyc — Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) July 19, 2017 7. Trump’s impulsive nature drives his Presidency. Just as his interview last night with the New York Times made headlines that advisers probably had not planned for, Mr. Trump’s ways often seem to overshadow the political debates on major issues – like in recent days on health care, as the President has been all over the road on the issue. One day he was for repeal and replace, then he was advocating straight repeal, then saying he would do nothing and let the current system collapse, and then again endorsing efforts at repeal and replace. The back and forth has often left GOP lawmakers a bit exasperated, worried that the President isn’t using the bully pulpit as effectively as possible. Mr. Trump had a very strong statement on Wednesday on health care – but those have been rare in recent months. In a span of 36 hours, Trump has taken 3 different positions on what should be tried next on health care pic.twitter.com/PEt4lLEdKJ — Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) July 19, 2017
  • Changing his mind yet again on health care, President Donald Trump on Wednesday directly urged Republicans in the Senate to keep searching for a deal on a bill to overhaul the Obama health law, spurring a new flurry of negotiations among GOP Senators, as top Republicans vowed to hold a vote next week to start debate on the health care plan. “There is a large majority in our conference that want to demonstrate to the American people that they intend to keep the commitment they made in four straight elections to repeal Obamacare,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We came from that meeting with a renewed commitment to keep working, to keep negotiating, and to get to yes,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). “In my view, failure is not an option,” Cruz told reporters outside the U.S. Capitol. . @SenTedCruz: We came from that meeting with a renewed commitment. Failure is not an option. For 7 years Republicans have promised repeal. pic.twitter.com/NSQnZg2MhT — FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) July 19, 2017 At the White House, the President had made a similar appeal. “We should hammer this out and get it done,” the President told Senators over lunch, as he said lawmakers should not leave town for their August vacation until that job is finished, and a bill is signed into law. “The people of this country need more than a repeal – they need a repeal and a replace,” Mr. Trump said. The President’s remarks were a notable turnaround from a day before, when he said Republicans should just let the Obama health law fail on its own; earlier in the week, he had suggested simply repealing the law, and waiting on a replacement. What happened to Trump's 'Let Obamacare fail'? 'That's not the responsible thing to do,' said @SenRonJohnson — Lisa Mascaro (@LisaMascaro) July 19, 2017 “I would say there is no question the meeting gave a boost to the effort,” on health care, said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). “I just hope we get over the line.” “He feels like we’re very close to getting there,” Corker said of the President, as the Tennessee Republican downplayed the President’s latest shift on what he wants out of the Congress on health care. A group of Senators were set to meet tonight at the Capitol to go over problems they had with some of the details, and to find a way forward. “I think we are substantially there,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), though he acknowledged there are obviously differences. “They are key.” “The President very much emphasized that there has to be a replace with the repeal,” Cassidy added. After the meeting, the Senate Majority Leader told reporters that he still plans to go ahead with a procedural vote next week on the Senate floor, to officially begin debate on the health care issue. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “Next week, we’ll be voting on the motion to proceed” https://t.co/5gcAJkN5J5 — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 19, 2017 “We had a really good meeting with the President,” McConnell said as he returned to the Capitol. Whether that can bridge the gaps and thread the needle for Senate Republicans remains the big question.
  • President Donald Trump gave his strong support to a special commission tasked with uncovering voter fraud in the United States, telling the first meeting of the group that it’s time to find out more about illegal votes possibly “canceling out the votes of lawful American citizens.” “Any form of illegal or fraudulent voting – whether by non-citizens or the deceased,” Mr. Trump said, “must be stopped.” “Every time voter fraud occurs, it cancels out the vote of a lawful citizen, and undermines democracy,” the President added. “Can’t let that happen,” Mr. Trump said. Trump says people have told him of 'voter irregularities…in some cases having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states' pic.twitter.com/FypOe3nvOR — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 19, 2017 “This commission is tasked with the sacred duty of upholding the integrity of the ballot box, and the principle of one citizen, one vote,” Mr. Trump added. The President also took a clear jab at states – controlled by both parties – which have refused to cooperate and turn over the voter information requested by this panel. “If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they’re worried about,” Mr. Trump said. “What are they worried about?” the President asked with a tone of skepticism. “There is something, there always is.” President Trump on states that refused to share voter information: 'One has to wonder what they're worried about' https://t.co/rIic2jaUqd — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 19, 2017 Critics savaged the panel even before the first official meeting occurred, charging it was nothing but an effort at voter suppression. “This isn’t a war on voter fraud. It’s a war on voters – and it’s only being waged by Republicans,” said Democratic national party chief Tom Perez.
  • With GOP efforts in Congress on hold to overhaul the Obama health law, Republican leaders threatened to force wayward GOP Senators to go on the record and publicly record their vote in opposition to plans to repeal chunks of the Obama health law, but such a health care showdown on the Senate floor was put off until at least early next week. “As of today, we just simply do not have 50 senators that can agree on what ought to replace the existing law,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been unable to solve what he called the ‘Rubik’s Cube’ inside the GOP on health care. “I was hopeful that we would be moving to a vote this week,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). “But obviously, that’s not going to happen.” Here’s the latest on where health care overhaul stands on Capitol Hill: 1. The inaction on health care is all on Republicans. There was no Senate filibuster involved as Republicans watched their effort to overhaul the Obama health law implode on Tuesday. The GOP has the majority in the House – they could barely pass their health care bill there. The GOP has the majority in the Senate – and hasn’t been able to pass anything. 60 votes were not needed in the Senate on this, as Democrats watched from the sidelines, while the GOP couldn’t get 50 votes, plus the tie breaking tally of the Vice President. The failure leaves the GOP unable to follow through on their biggest campaign pledge of the past seven years. The White House and the President tried to blame it on Democrats – but Republicans are the ones in charge at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Fact: There are 48 Democrats in Senate & 52 Republicans. #Trumpcare only needed 50 Rs to pass. It failed on the merits, not by obstruction. — Senator Jack Reed (@SenJackReed) July 19, 2017 2. Republicans still haven’t united behind one plan. Back in early January, I wrote this: “The Obama health law was approved almost seven years ago, and while Republicans are overflowing with ideas on what they would change, there isn’t one plan out there which could get a majority in either the House or Senate if a vote were held this week.” That’s still true today in the Senate – and frankly, the House might have a hard time repeating its vote of early May in favor of a GOP health care bill. For whatever variety of reasons, Republicans never hammered out the details of a ‘repeal and replace’ plan – except for their snappy bumper sticker saying. On health care, Republicans are like a dog finding out it's easier to bark at the car than to catch it. — Rob Archer (@RobArcher) July 17, 2017 3. GOP strategy on health care has been a see-saw. After President Trump won in November, many in the GOP wanted to start off 2017 by having Congress vote to repeal large chunks of the Obama health law – and then move later on to fill in the blanks on what should replace the system. But that did not get the seal of approval from the President-Elect, so Republicans opted for ‘repeal and replace.’ As we have seen, that hasn’t gone too well, and this week the GOP ricocheted back to repeal, and then move later on to fill in the blanks on what should replace. Here is a tweet from January, when Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was joining the President in calling for ‘repeal and replace.’ Not anymore. I just spoke to @realDonaldTrump and he fully supports my plan to replace Obamacare the same day we repeal it. The time to act is now. — Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 7, 2017 4. No Senate health care vote until at least next week. There was talk in the halls of a vote as early as Wednesday on the Senate floor, on whether to start debate on the GOP health care bill. By the end of the day, Senate Majority Leader McConnell backed off a quick showdown. “At the request of the President and Vice President, and after consulting with our members, we will have the vote on the motion to proceed to the Obamacare repeal bill early next week,” McConnell said. It’s not clear that the GOP will have 50 votes next week to begin debate, and start entertaining amendments on the Senate floor, raising the question of why top Republicans would want to move ahead with a vote that they might lose. Some wondered if it was a signal that it is time to move on to other issues. Have asked multiple McConnell-world insiders what his endgame is—bill? no bill? repeal? replace? Consensus is: Just get it over with. — Molly Ball (@mollyesque) July 18, 2017 5. There is the option of doing nothing. President Trump again said today that maybe the best choice for Republicans is to do nothing legislatively about the Obama health law, just let the situation fester and worsen, and then bring both parties together later to fix things in Congress. “I think we’re probably in that position where we will just let Obamacare fail,” the President told reporters on Tuesday. “We’re not going to own it – I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it,” as the President tried to isolate himself, and the GOP from any political fallout related to failed efforts to repeal and replace the Obama health law. As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2017 6. No love from House Republicans for the Senate. After going through their own near-death experience on health care in March, April and May, GOP lawmakers in the House have little sympathy for Republicans in the Senate, and made that clear on Tuesday, as the Senate health care bill was derailed by GOP infighting. “Repeal. Replace. Congress, keep your promise,” said Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). “It’s time for the Senate to act and repeal Obamacare,” said Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL). “We cannot be the party of ‘no.’ We must be the party of solutions, and there is no bigger problem right now than the ongoing collapse of Obamacare,” said Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH). But for now, that magic solution has not appeared for the GOP in the Senate. The US Senate needs to get its act together and repeal the #Obamacare disaster. — Doug Collins (@Douglas_Collins) July 18, 2017 7. ‘Repeal and Delay’ seems to be going nowhere. The idea of bringing back a plan that was vetoed by President Obama last year does not have legs in the Senate right now, as at least four Republicans have made clear they will not support the idea – even though some of them voted for it back in 2015. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) were the three who deep-sixed the GOP backup plan – then others, like Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said they also want to see the GOP forge a replacement plan. I don’t think it’s appropriate just to repeal, we’ve also got to put a replacement in place,” Portman told home state reporters by telephone in Ohio. It wouldn’t surprise me if a few more GOP Senators agreed with that sentiment. We must do more than just repeal, we must have a replacement solution in place as well. https://t.co/lmZNuUkmZH — Rob Portman (@senrobportman) July 18, 2017 8. Will there be bipartisan negotiations on health care? For months, Democrats have jabbed at the GOP by demanding bipartisanship, while Republicans have said Democrats ran away on health care, refusing to offer up any ideas on how best to fix the Obama health law. Now, with Republicans short on votes, comes a real moment of truth for the GOP. What if – what if Republicans can’t muster a majority in the Senate? Should they start looking at talks with Democrats on a health care bill? That opens a big can of worms, because for some the answer would be, ‘absolutely not.’ But there were some surprising and influential voices who endorsed that idea – like conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham: There's no point pretending that the GOP will pass major legislation on its own. Must either work w/ Dems or do nothing. — Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) July 18, 2017
  • Republican efforts to pass legislation to overhaul the Obama health law quickly collapsed on Tuesday, as more than enough GOP Senators signaled that they would not support a plan from Senate leaders to pass a plan to repeal large chunks of Obamacare, but not immediately approve any legislation to replace that health care system. “We can’t just hope that we will pass a replacement within the next two years,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), one of three Republican women in the Senate who sank the backup plan from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I will only vote to proceed to repeal legislation if I am confident there is a replacement plan that addresses my concerns,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). “I cannot vote to proceed to repeal the ACA without reform that allows people the choice they want,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). My recent statement on the Senate Healthcare Process: pic.twitter.com/j19Ok1KwWw — Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) July 18, 2017 My latest statement on the Senate health care bill & planned vote to repeal Obamacare: pic.twitter.com/yAVIxgptCu — Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) July 18, 2017 . @SenatorCollins opposes straight repeal vote, says it would cause 'anxiety' for individuals, 'turmoil' for markets. https://t.co/hvGLziXy2L pic.twitter.com/PiNwEqOTjU — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 18, 2017 The irony of those three announcements was not lost on Capitol Hill, where Republicans had assembled a health care working group to put together a bill, which did not include one female GOP Senator. At the White House, President Donald Trump expressed his disappointment with the events unfolding on Capitol Hill, mainly blaming Democrats for the problems inside the GOP. “We’ve had a lot of victories, but we haven’t had a victory on health care,” the President told reporters at a White House photo op. “We’re disappointed, I am very disappointed,” Mr. Trump added. Trump: 'We'll just let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it … the Republicans are not going to own it' https://t.co/Ot8El5CR7o — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 18, 2017 Mr. Trump and Republican Senators vowed to push ahead on health care, but it wasn’t immediately apparent how the GOP would save this legislative effort. “I was hopeful that we would be moving to a vote this week,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). “But obviously, that’s not going to happen.”
  • Republicans arrived at work on Tuesday morning with a GOP effort to overhaul the Obama health law at its most vulnerable point in 2017, a day after two Republican Senators jointly announced their opposition, leading Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to switch tactics, vowing to bring up a plan similar to one that was vetoed in 2016 by President Barack Obama. “Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” McConnell said in a written statement, as he said the next step would be a vote on a plan that repeals some of the Obama health law, but leaves unanswered the question of what system should replace it. That plan, which could be approved under the special rules of ‘budget reconciliation’ – which does not allow for a filibuster – would be “a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay,” on a replacement, McConnell said. BREAKING: McConnell concedes drive to erase, replace Obama health law has failed; plans repeal vote, 2-year delay for substitute. — The Associated Press (@AP) July 18, 2017 It was not immediately apparent that GOP leaders would have the votes for such a plan, which had been the preferred option for Republicans after President Donald Trump’s victory in the November elections, until Mr. Trump made clear he wanted a plan that also would ‘replace’ the current Obama health law system. Here is some of what that GOP plan would do: + Repeal all of the taxes under the Obama health law + Repeal all of the subsidies that help people buy health insurance + Zeroes out (but does not repeal) the individual mandate penalty + Zeores out (but does not repeal) the employer mandate penalty + Repeals the Medicaid expansion program + Repeals extra money for hospitals that treat large numbers of low income patients + Eliminates spending for programs under the Obama health law + Blocks money for Planned Parenthood for one year This plan would not change the underlying requirements under the Obama health law in terms of what insurance companies would have to offer in their health coverage plans. It also has no provisions dealing with selling insurance across state lines, which is already legal under the Obama health law. In order to do that – and fully repeal the Obama health law architecture – that bill would need 60 votes in the Senate, which Republicans do not have. Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2017 The Congressional Budget Office found that the plan would reduce the deficit by $474 billion over ten years. The more controversial CBO finding is on how many people would not keep their insurance. The CBO found the GOP plans being considered in recent months would result in 22-23 million more people not having health insurance in ten years – this would be 32 million. Democrats immediately latched on to those numbers to launch a new round of attacks on the GOP health care effort. McConnell's new plan–repeal only–hurts millions of people and destabilizes the largest sector of our economy — Senator Tim Kaine (@timkaine) July 18, 2017
  • Jamie Dupree

    Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog.

    A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989. Politics and the Congress are in Jamie’s family, as both of his parents were staffers for members of Congress. He was also a page and intern in the House of Representatives. Jamie has covered 11 national political conventions, with his first being the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta. His political travels have had him on the presidential campaign trail every four years since 1992, chasing candidates throughout the primary calendar.

    He is heard on Cox Radio stations around the country: WSB-AM Atlanta, WDBO-AM Orlando; WOKV-AM/FM Jacksonville; WHIO-AM/FM Dayton, Ohio; and KRMG-AM Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    Jamie and his wife Emily live just outside the Beltway with their three children. Some may know Jamie from his other on-air hobby, as he is a licensed amateur radio operator. When not at work or playing with his kids, you can often find him with a golf club in his hands.

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  • Republican plans for tax reform could be less sweeping than originally envisioned by the White House and GOP leaders in Congress, as a provision in a House GOP budget blueprint would require any tax bill to be ‘budget neutral,’ which would force lawmakers to offset any tax cuts with revenue increases that could be difficult in some cases to gain approval. Deep in the fine print of the budget resolution for next year, the Republican plan allows for a tax reform bill under budget reconciliation, “if such measure would not increase the deficit for the total of fiscal years 2018 through 2027.” In other words, you can’t just cut taxes – which technically deprive the federal treasury of revenue, and therefore increase the budget deficit – you have to find revenue to pay for those tax cuts. And Republicans on the House Budget Committee were actively trumpeting that message. It’s time for deficit-neutral #taxreform, and our budget makes that possible. pic.twitter.com/naed7nv7o9 — House Budget GOP (@housebudgetGOP) July 19, 2017 On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan was touting tax reform during a trip to a New Balance factory in Massachusetts. “First and foremost, we’re going to cut your taxes,” the Speaker said. But when a tax plan is deficit neutral – a cut for one person means that revenue must be found somewhere else to offset that reduction – in other words, some other tax increase, mainly one would assume by taking away deductions in the tax code. And many veterans of Capitol Hill say that’s not going to be easy. “I spent much of 2011-16 negotiating tax reform proposals in the Senate,” said Brian Reidl, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, who used to work for Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). “Revenue-neutral tax reform will make health care look easy,” Riedl said in a post on Twitter. Key Republicans have made clear that they want to put together a proposal that dramatically simplifies the current tax system. “So 96% of the people can do their tax return on a single postcard size,” said House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Diane Black (R-TN). To do that, you would lower tax rates, and then most likely eliminate or reduce tax deductions – and that’s where things get tricky. Revenue neutral tax reform is hard. pic.twitter.com/B5ohufu90y — John Arnold (@JohnArnoldFndtn) July 20, 2017 Do you get rid of the deduction for mortgage insurance? Lots of people talk about that, but it always goes nowhere. What about the deduction for state and local taxes? That has bipartisan opposition in and around big cities on the East Coast. The tax break on employer provided health care benefits? That went nowhere fast in the negotiations over the GOP bill to overhaul the Obama health law. End or restrict the business interest deduction? Hard to imagine. Deficit neutral tax reform – it sounds wonky. But it’s a pretty important development that may rein in the scope of a GOP tax plan.
  • Tulsa investigators are looking for two men who ambushed a female pizza delivery driver early Saturday morning. The incident happened around 12:40 a.m, near 23rd and Jackson. Police say the victim had just finished delivering her pizza.  She was walking to her vehicle, when the suspects hit her with an unknown object. “She said she fell to the ground and a suspect took an undisclosed amount of cash from her purse,” police said. Both suspects then fled the scene on foot.   The victim wasn’t able to get a good look at the suspects.   Anyone with information regarding the robbery is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 918-596-COPS.   
  • Multiple children are lucky to be okay, after reportedly getting locked inside a vehicle on Friday.   EMSA tells us, witnesses at the scene spotted the children.   “The latest call, at the Aldi’s grocery store at 82nd street and South Olympia Avenue, included three children – reported to be one infant and two toddlers - locked in a car,” EMSA said.  “A caller called 911 and waited at the scene to wave down emergency responders. The patients were assessed at the scene and were not transported to a hospital.” No word on who drove the children to the store or why they were left inside.   As of 8 p.m. Friday, EMSA crews had responded to eight suspected heat-related calls.  Saturday could be even hotter, so please stay safe.
  • Saturday will be perfect for staying close to your air conditioner or making friends with somebody who owns a pool. National Weather Service Meteorologist Chuck Hodges says we have another scorcher ahead of us. “Another hot one for Saturday,” Hodges said.  “Sunny skies and it looks like the high temperature will be around 102, 103 degrees.” There is an Excessive Heat Warning in effect for Tulsa and surrounding counties until 8 p.m. NWS reports we’ll see more high temperatures on Sunday.  The sun will come back out and the high should be near 100 degrees.   There is also a small chance for storms on Sunday, during the afternoon hours.  
  • O.J. Simpson plans to return to Florida when he’s released from prison in Nevada, but where are the rest of the players from the Trial of the Century? The Washington Post says the cast of characters includes prosecutor Marcia Clark, who now writes murder mysteries. Judge Lance Ito is now retired. Simpson’s lead defense attorney Johnnie Cochran died in 2005. Prosecutor Christopher Darden now has his own law firm as a defense and civil litigation attorney. But the paper says famed defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey has probably fared the worst. The now 83-year-old was disbarred and filed for bankruptcy after a string of scandals and runs a small consulting business above a hair salon in Maine. You can read more about the story here.