Day 50: Blow it up.
1/ Conservatives want to blow up Senate rules to kill Obamacare. A growing number of conservative lawmakers urged GOP leaders to push the limits of how much of the health law they can reshape under a powerful procedural maneuver known as budget reconciliation — and to overrule the Senate parliamentarian if she doesn’t decide in their favor. (Politico)
- Trump supporters have the most to lose with the repeal of Obamacare. The Republicans’ plan offers less help to older and lower-income Americans, especially in rural areas. The voters hit the hardest — eligible for at least $5,000 less in tax credits under the Republican plan — supported Trump by a margin of 59% to 36%. (New York Times)
2/ House GOP leaders defend health-care overhaul as they prepare to meet Trump. The leaders dismissed the suggestion from conservative members that the proposed phaseout of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion should be moved up by two years, from 2020 to 2018. (Washington Post)
3/ Jeff Sessions calls Guantanamo Bay a “very fine place” to send captured terrorists and recommended Trump do so in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. The attorney general added he was opposed to shuttering the controversial Cuban prison. (New York Daily News)
4/ Trump promised $1 trillion for infrastructure, but the real estimate is almost $4.6 trillion over the next eight years to bring the country’s crumbling infrastructure up to an acceptable standard. A report by civil engineers gives the nation’s infrastructure a D-plus grade and sees little progress in the past four years. (Washington Post)
5/ The Office of Government Ethics says the Trump administration has an “incorrect” view of ethics laws. The OGE urged punishment after Kellyanne Conway endorsed Ivanka Trump’s fashion line. The White House says the agency’s rules don’t apply to its workers. (NPR)
- Ivanka Trump’s brand saw an online surge in February. Sales of Ivanka Trump merchandise dropped 26 percent online in January compared to January 2016, but the trend reversed in February. According to Slice Intelligence, online sales of Ivanka Trump merchandise swelled 207 percent in February from the prior month. (CNBC)
6/ States ask court to stop Trump’s new travel ban from ever taking effect. At least five states are banding together in a legal drive to block key elements of Trump’s second travel ban. Washington state is asking a federal judge in Seattle to rule that an existing injunction against Trump’s earlier travel ban apply to parallel portions of his new directive. (Politico)
7/ John Huntsman reported to be named next U.S. ambassador to Russia. The former Republican governor served as ambassador to China under Obama. His appointment comes at a time when the complex relationship between the two countries has been particularly strained in light of recent developments surrounding the Trump administration. (New York Times)
8/ Is Trump being investigated? “No comment,” the Justice Department says. By venting his ire against Obama in a series of tweets last week, Trump awkwardly raised the possibility himself, since any wiretapping could have been the direct result of an investigation targeting him. (New York Times)
- Pelosi: Comey should publicly reject Trump wiretapping claims. “Maybe in a short period of time much more will be in the public domain,” she said. (Politico)
- Schiff: I haven’t seen any evidence Obama admin wiretapped Trump. After meeting with FBI Director James Comey, the California representative said he has not “seen any evidence” to back Trump’s claims that he was wiretapped by the Obama administration during the campaign. (CNN)
9/ FBI investigation continues into “odd” computer link between Russian bank and Trump Organization. Questions about the possible connection were widely dismissed four months ago. But the FBI’s investigation remains open and is in the hands of the FBI’s counterintelligence team – the same one looking into Russia’s suspected interference in the 2016 election. (CNN)
10/ Russian ambassador denied meeting with Trump or any campaign officials in October speech. But Jeff Sessions met with Kislyak last September in Sessions’s DC office when he was still a US Senator and top Trump adviser. Sessions also interacted with Kislyak in Cleveland at a Heritage Foundation event held during the RNC in July. (CNN)
11/ ACLU files ethics complaint against Sessions over communications with Russian ambassador based on his testimony to a Senate committee that he had no communications with the Russian government. (Washington Post)
12/ A bill moving through Congress could give employers access to workers’ genetic test results. The bill, HR 1313, was approved by a House committee on Wednesday, with all 22 Republicans supporting it and all 17 Democrats opposed. Employers may provide insurance premium discounts to workers who take part in their companies’ voluntary wellness programs. Once enrolled, businesses are allowed to collect “information about the manifested disease or disorder of a family member” of participating employees. (STAT)
13/ The U.S. added 235,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.7%. Employers added jobs at an above-average pace for a second month. Trump has set a goal of adding 25 million jobs over 10 years, which would require job additions of 208,000 a month, or 2.5 million positions a year. (Bloomberg)
14/ U.S. is sending about 400 Marines to Syria to help local fighters wrest control of Raqqa, which ISIS considers its capital. (NPR)
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