Back from the dead?
President Donald Trump’s failure to unite House Republicans behind an Obamacare repeal-and-replace has been one of his biggest failures. Now the White House and House GOP leaders are pushing hard to come up with a new bill that can pass before his first 100 days are up.
During a news conference with Italy’s prime minister, Trump said progress was being made on a “great plan” to overhaul the nation’s health care system. “We have a good chance of getting it soon,” Trump said. “I’d like to say next week.”
A deal brokered by the hard-right Freedom Caucus and some moderates would give states more flexibility to pull out of Obamacare provisions, The Associated Press reported. That could allow states to toss minimum standards, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, Politico said.
Among those still opposed is Staten Island Rep. Dan Donovan, partly because the legislation would increase Medicaid costs for New York City.
GOP lawmakers were skeptical they can line up a voting majority that quickly. They cited the bigger short-term need to pass a spending bill to avert a government shutdown. Trump, asked by a reporter to name his priority, said, “I want to get both.”
Going to the wall
Complicating the spending bill talks: White House budget director Mick Mulvaney says that Democratic negotiators must agree to such Trump demands as a down payment on a Mexican border wall and hiring additional immigration agents.
“We know there are a lot of people on the Hill, especially in the Democratic Party, who don’t like the wall, but they lost the election,” Mulvaney told The Associated Press. “ And the president should, I think, at least have the opportunity to fund one of his highest priorities in the first funding bill under his administration.”
The take-away: Hitting home
The Trump administration’s promise to step up efforts against the violent MS-13 gang is one of several issues where developing policies are of particular interest to Long Island, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
There will be local impact, too, from any changes in health care, infrastructure funding, taxes and a federal push to battle opioid addiction.
Rudy talks Turkey
Rudy Giuliani, a close political ally of Trump, is trying to get the administration to go easy on a law client -- Reza Zarrab, a Turkish gold trader accused of conspiring to violate the American sanctions on Iran.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey wants Zarrab freed. Giuliani court papers said a resolution of the case “will promote the national security interests of the United States.”
Born rich, exempted from common obligations, and rewarded with the presidency, Trump continued to cast himself as the perpetual victim of unfair forces Friday when he tweeted at 6:50 a.m.: "No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!"
Don’t know much about history
South Koreans were also peeved at Trump for leaving the impression last week that the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was heading their way to help defend against North Korea. But that’s not all.
During a Wall Street Journal interview last week, Trump said, “Korea actually used to be a part of China.” Although Korea was often invaded by China, Koreans say the notion that they were once Chinese subjects is highly insulting, The New York Times reported.
They lei into Sessions
Officials in the Pacific-blue state of Hawaii took umbrage at how Attorney General Jeff Sessions complained about the federal judge there who blocked Trump’s travel ban.
“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power,” Sessions said.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Japan, tweeted: “Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences — including my own. Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous.”
What else is happening
- Before WikiLeaks inserted itself into last year’s campaign, the anti-secrecy organization in 2010 published classified diplomatic cables and military documents. The Justice Department is now considering whether to bring charges, The Washington Post reports.
- Trump said in January he wanted a plan within 90 days to bolster U.S. cybersecurity, but it hasn’t happened and it’s unclear where the effort stands, Politico reported.
- Ivanka Trump said that “in light of government ethics rules,” she will not do a tour or other promotions for her new self-help book, “Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules of Success.”
- Rocker Ted Nugent, who has a record of vulgar, sexist and racially charged comments, was a Trump dinner guest at the White House Tuesday. Also at the table: Kid Rock and Sarah Palin.
- Exxon Mobil Corp. is seeking a Treasury Department waiver from U.S. sanctions on Russia so it can resume a joint venture with state oil giant PAO Rosneft. Exxon’s former CEO is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.