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Senators Working the Ref Already on Health Care Bill
Parliamentarian rulings could make or break GOP legislation

Sen. Bill Cassidy is among the senators looking to make sure any health legislation or amendments will comply with the Senate’s procedural rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As House Republicans struggle to cobble together the votes to pass legislation to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, members are already looking to navigate the Senate’s labyrinth of procedural rules that could make or break the measure. 

Senate Democrats are already setting up for the battle with the parliamentarian about which provisions could run up against the Byrd Rule, which requires budget reconciliation bills that can pass with a simple-majority vote to be primarily about spending and revenues, without extraneous matter.

White House Health Care Full-Court Press Changes Few Minds
Trump, Ryan lack needed 216 votes in House, says Freedom Caucus chairman

President Donald Trump and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price arrive in the Capitol to meet with the House Republican Conference about the party’s health overhaul bill on Tuesday morning. Despite Trump’s full-court press, there was little evidence he changed many minds. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A White House in full-court press mode deployed President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to call out and fire up Republican members about the party’s health care overhaul bill, but there was scant evidence it worked.

Trump made a rare morning trek to the Capitol’s basement in his quest for the 216 Republican votes, where he addressed the GOP House caucus with his signature brashness: Members present said he called out reluctant members, including Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, by name. A few hours later, Pence tried to keep skeptical GOP senators in the loop about what kind of bill they might soon receive.

Opinion: Are Republicans Storming the Castle or Walking the Plank on Health Care?
Upcoming health care vote could have consequences for 2018

Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, was singled out by President Donald Trump at Tuesday’s House GOP conference meeting for not yet voicing his support for the Republican health care plan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans are getting leaned on, hard, to vote for the GOP health care bill. First came the invitations to the White House Bowling Alley. Then the lunch dates. Still hunting for votes over the weekend, President Donald Trump flew members to Mar-a-Lago. But by Tuesday, with a floor vote looming, President Trump was naming names at the GOP caucus meeting. “Mark Meadows?” the president said, looking for the leader of the Freedom Caucus, who has still not said he’ll vote for the bill. “Stand up, Mark. … Mark, I’m going to come after you.”

The White House later said that the president was “just having fun” at the caucus meeting. But when a White House goes into full whip mode, which this White House obviously has, it’s time for the members on the sharp side of the whip to ask themselves whether they’re being asked to storm the castle or walk the plank. In other words, will their vote on health care this week help deliver a successful, necessary legislative victory, or are they being asked to support a bill that may not pass, may not work, or may cost them and their party their seats in two years’ time.

Ep. 45: House Russia Inquiry Goes Public With FBI, NSA
The Week Ahead

In a highly anticipated hearing, the House Intelligence Committee's investigation of Russia's election meddling makes its public debut with lawmakers set to press the directors of the FBI and the NSA about the Kremlin's interference operation and potential ties with the Trump campaign, says CQ Roll Call's intelligence reporter Ryan Lucas. Listen in for details.

Opinion: This Budget Isn’t Dead on Arrival
Trump’s budget draws the battle lines between the parties

A president’s budget sets the tone, direction and parameters of the debate over government operations and Republicans in Congress will be hard-pressed to go against a president of their own party, Allen writes. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Every year, Congress affixes the same toe tag to the White House budget within minutes of its delivery: “Dead on Arrival.”

The phrase is such a cliche, and so often repeated by members of Congress who dislike the president’s numbers, that it’s hard to find a news story about each year’s budget that doesn’t include those three words. It’s also discounted as just a “blueprint,” “a political document” or a “proposal” written for disposal. When I was a budget reporter for CQ, and at other publications, these were my watchwords.

Opinion: The GOP and White Evangelicals — A Forever Match?
Less than compassionate policies might be fraying ties

The rise of President Donald Trump has exposed a few cracks in the long-standing relationship between white evangelical Protestants and the Republican Party, Curtis writes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

Will a health care proposal that could toss “the least of these” off its rolls cause divisions between evangelicals uncomfortable with a close relationship with the Republican Party and those who feel just fine with the political association?

A shared anti-abortion stance, with the promise to appoint like-minded judges, has so far helped to keep the link between evangelicals and the GOP strong. But strains — along policy, generational, and racial lines — are showing within conservative faith groups, despite agreement on core beliefs. 

Is Trump Review Just Al Gore Reinventing Government 2.0?
Clinton-era staffers see flaws aplenty in new effort

Clinton, right, tasked Gore to head his Reinventing Government initiative. On Monday, Trump promised a similar review of government efficiency, but there are key differences in who has the authority to carry it out. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Donald Trump, ever the marketer and salesman, says past presidents’ attempts to shrink the federal government “never” accomplished that goal “to the extent” he will. Yet, many parts of his soup-to-nuts review resemble a Clinton administration effort to “reinvent” the federal apparatus.

The new president signed an executive order Monday that launched the latest try at shrinking government, eliminating redundancies and cutting costs. The missive orders all government agencies to propose ways to reorganize operations and pare unnecessary programs, which the White House claims will produce a significant restructuring of the federal government.

Mike Lee Doubts House GOP Health Plan Complies With Senate Rules
Utah senator cites abortion, insurance premium language

Sens. Mike Lee. left, and Rand Paul favor a vote on the 2015 repeal of the health care law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Mike Lee is suggesting that a ban on federal funding for abortion in the House health care bill might not survive a procedural challenge on the Senate floor.

In an opinion piece for The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, the Utah Republican wrote that under Senate rules, the House health care bill might not be compliant as a reconciliation bill (a budget measure that only requires a majority vote). He said provisions will need to be stripped to comply with the so-called Byrd Rule.

On Paper, Trump’s First 50 Days Resemble Previous Presidents’
But turbulence, including Obama claims, defined opening seven weeks

President Donald Trump arrives at the White House on Feb. 6 after spending the weekend in Florida. In many ways, his first 50 days match those of other recent presidents. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

On one hand, the first 50 days of Donald Trump’s presidency, in some ways, closely resemble those of his recent predecessors. But on the other, those similarities largely have been overshadowed by missteps and inflammatory tweets. 

A botched executive order temporarily banning many Muslims from entering the United States, allegations that former President Barack Obama tapped his phones, and an otherwise chaotic seven weeks have defined Trump’s first 50 days. But data reviewed by CQ Roll Call stretching back to the opening days of the Reagan administration shows Trump is off to a start much like several other recent commanders in chief.50Days-top-summary

Senators Have Serious Issues With House GOP Health Care Bill
Portman, Capito among those voicing concerns over Medicaid provisions

Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Rob Portman discussed Medicaid expansion during a meeting on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican senators are increasingly talking about the prospect of needing to amend the House’s health care law replacement bill.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune said it was entirely possible the Senate would amend the GOP health care bill through the budget reconciliation process on the floor.