1/ The House Ways and Means Committee gave an approval to a major part of the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, rejecting a flurry of Democratic amendments. Republicans are a step closer to a full vote on the measure despite the growing opposition of senators, health care providers, and some conservatives. The White House is increasingly confident about the prospects for a health care overhaul to pass in the House. Trump anticipates the most trouble in the Senate, where moderate and conservative lawmakers are opposing the plan for different reasons. He said he was prepared to pressure holdout senators by holding the kind of stadium-style rallies he led during his presidential campaign. (New York Times)
2/ Trump goes into dealmaking mode, working behind the scenes on health bill and quietly courting wary conservatives in private meetings and keeping himself somewhat out of the picture as party leaders and his Cabinet officials defend the proposal to revise the Affordable Care Act. “If we need to bring in the big gun, we’ll bring in the big gun” – meaning Trump. (Washington Post)
3/ Trump to conservative leaders: If this health care plan fails, I’ll blame Democrats. During an hour-long meeting with conservative groups against the House Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump chastised the groups for calling the House GOP proposal “Obamacare lite,” warning the tea party activists, “you are helping the other side.” (CNN)
4/ Spicer attacks “double standard” in response to WikiLeaks dump. Spicer cast aside the playbook of cut-and-dry condemnations of national security leaks and instead framed his response along political lines, arguing forcefully that there was a “double standard” when it comes to the level of outrage elicited by different leaks. (CNN)
5/ The White House says Trump isn’t the target of any investigation despite Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower. Either the president’s assertions that Obama wiretapped him are baseless, or he may have implicated himself in a government investigation of contacts between his presidential campaign and Russia. (New York Times)
6/ EPA chief Scott Pruitt says carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming. Pruitt’s view is at odds with the opinion of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (CNBC)
7/ Trump administration considers $6 billion cut to HUD budget. The move would drop Housing and Urban Development funding by about 14% as part of the plan to cut domestic spending and increase the defense budget. (Washington Post)
8/ Hawaii becomes the first state to sue Trump over new travel ban, saying in a lawsuit that it will disrupt families, harm Hawaii’s Muslim population, tourism and foreign students and is “antithetical to Hawaii’s state identity and spirit.” (USA Today)
9/ Trump begins to map out his $1 trillion infrastructure plan that would pressure states to streamline local permitting, favor renovation of existing roads and highways over new construction, and prioritize projects that can quickly begin construction. Trump expressed interest in high-speed rail and spectrum auction. (Wall Street Journal)
10/ Jeff Sessions likely met with the Russian Ambassador a third time. The attorney general initially denied any contact with the Russians, then later admitted to just two meetings. (Huffington Post)
11/ The White House is scrutinizing job candidates’ old social media posts for criticism of Trump. Officials are having trouble filling vacancies in their departments because of questions about the loyalty of the people they want to select. (Vox)
12/ Homeland chief: Illegal border crossings dip 40%, as measured by arrests and people halted from entering the country at the border. (USA Today)
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