Republicans decided last fall that they would use their unexpected control of the White House and Congress to quickly repeal the Affordable Care Act and move on, but as their replacement legislation faces yet another delay and continued uncertainty in the Senate, it is clearer than ever that President Trump and "many in Congress dramatically underestimated the challenge of rolling back former President Barack Obama's signature achievement," Politico reports.
Congressional GOP aides now point to the lack of experience, vision, and expertise in the slow-starting Trump White House, while White House aides note that congressional Republicans have been promising to repeal and replace ObamaCare since 2010, long before Trump ran for office. But the fissures in the Republican caucus were clear as early as late January, at a closed-door GOP policy retreat in Philadelphia, Politico says:
House Speaker Paul Ryan laid out a three-pronged approach to scrapping ObamaCare. He wanted to repeal as much of the legislation as possible, eliminate more through deregulation, and then work with Democrats on a replacement, said one former Republican aide. Many Republican lawmakers doubted Democrats would work with them on redoing the health-care law.
The president and one of his former campaign rivals also unexpectedly helped undermine the GOP's repeal plans. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on television the GOP needed a replacement plan if it was going to repeal the law. Then Trump endorsed that requirement. Their comments caused GOP leaders to start from scratch. Now that the Senate's attempt to revamp the health-care law has run into roadblocks — with moderates insisting on protecting coverage for their constituents, while conservatives focus on undoing as much of ObamaCare as possible — both Paul and Trump have suggested going back to a repeal-only bill. [Politico]
One White House aide told Politico that if Trump signs a health-care law by August, all this drama will be forgotten. You can read more about the Republican health-care missteps and inflated expectations at Politico. Peter Weber
A veterans organization says it is being censored by the NFL after the league rejected its one-page ad, with the message "Please Stand," from the upcoming Super Bowl's program, saying it's too political.
"The Super Bowl game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams, and the Super Bowl," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told USA Today Sports. "It's never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement." He added that the NFL has "long supported the military and veterans and will again salute our service members in the Super Bowl with memorable on-field moments that will be televised as part of the game."
AMVETS said it has placed similar ads in official NHL and NBA programs, and its executive director, Joe Chenelly, believes his group deserves the same platform as players who are protesting police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem. The protests are "very much out of our purview," he told USA Today Sports, and the ads are part of the group's attempts to teach people about the flag and how to care for it. McCarthy said AMVETS was asked to consider other taglines, including "Please Honor Our Vets" and "Please Stand for Our Veterans," but the organization never responded, and the program had to go to the printer. Catherine Garcia
With President Trump's blessing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, but Wray has threatened to resign if McCabe is forced out, three people with direct knowledge of the matter told Axios.
Sessions told White House counsel Don McGahn that Wray is distressed by the request, Axios reports, and McGahn in turn said it's not worth losing the director, especially in the wake of Trump firing former FBI Director James Comey last year. Trump nominated Wray last June, and he previously served as deputy attorney general under former President George W. Bush. McCabe was acting director of the FBI after Comey was fired, and Trump and other Republicans want him gone because his wife ran for office as a Democrat. Catherine Garcia
Naomi Parker Fraley, a former waitress who inspired the artist behind the 1943 "We Can Do It!" poster, died Saturday in Longview, Washington. She was 96.
Several people claimed to be the model for the poster, which was created for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, but in 2016, Seton Hall University Prof. James Kimble discovered that artist J. Howard Miller was most likely inspired by a photo of Fraley that appeared in newspapers across the country. The photo showed Fraley, who worked in a Navy machine shop during World War II, standing at an industrial lathe, her hair up in polka-dotted bandana. "The women of this country these days need some icons," Fraley told People in 2016, after Kimble tracked her down. "If they think I'm one, I'm happy."
Fraley was 20 when she she started working at the machine shop, along with her younger sister, Ada, and they spent their days drilling, patching airplane wings, and riveting. The poster was only up in Westinghouse factories for a brief time, and it didn't become a feminist symbol, with the woman dubbed Rosie the Riveter, until the early 1980s, The New York Times reports. Catherine Garcia
President Trump on Monday, acting on recommendations by the U.S. International Trade Commission, approved imposing tariffs on solar panels and washing machines.
The administration says that by placing a tariff of 30 percent on most imported solar modules and a tariff of up to 50 percent on large residential washing machines, this will help American companies. Both tariffs will be phased out by 2022.
While Whirlpool is pleased with the news, with its chairman saying it will create manufacturing jobs, Bill Vietas, a member of the Solar Energy Industries Association and president of RBI Solar in Cincinnati, said the tariffs will hurt his industry, which has grown immensely over the past five years. "Government tariffs will increase the cost of solar and depress demand, which will reduce the orders we're getting and cost manufacturing workers their jobs," he told The Associated Press. Catherine Garcia
On Monday, the nonprofit government watchdog group Common Cause filed two federal complaints, alleging that President Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 in October 2016 to an adult film star who had an affair with Trump, and this may have been a violation of campaign finance laws.
In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Common Cause's campaign finance expert Paul S. Ryan wrote that "because the funds were paid for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential general election," this payment should have been considered a campaign expense, but was never reported.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Cohen paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 shortly before the election, around the same time she stopped speaking with different journalists about an affair she said she had with Trump. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, told In Touch and Slate about having consensual sexual encounters with Trump after she met him at a 2006 golf tournament. Cohen has denied paying Daniels, and told The Washington Post on Monday Common Cause's complaints are "baseless." Catherine Garcia
After the Senate passed a bipartisan bill to reopen the government, the House followed Monday evening, voting 266-150 in favor of the measure and sending the legislation to President Trump's desk.
This will fund the federal government through Feb. 8, and the Children's Health Insurance Program for six years. It will also ensure federal workers receive back pay. To get Democrats on board, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised that immigration legislation will be brought to a vote by Feb. 8 if it's not resolved earlier. The Senate passed the bill 81-18. Catherine Garcia
The Milwaukee Bucks have fired head coach Jason Kidd, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday. Kidd, a former NBA All-Star, had coached the team since 2014.
After stumbling to a 23-22 record, Bucks management apparently determined that the problem with their underperforming team was Kidd. Most observers expected the Bucks to be a top team in the NBA's Eastern Conference this season, after star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo became an early frontrunner for the league's Most Valuable Player award. But as the season wore on, the Bucks were frequently outplayed by inferior teams, and their opponents feasted on a diet of shots near the basket and from behind the three-point line — the two most profitable shots in basketball.
The Bucks' coaching gig, NBA writer Matt Moore noted on Twitter, is an intoxicating position, thanks to the 23-year-old phenom Antetokounmpo. The rest of the roster, meanwhile, is comprised of long and versatile players who, in theory, complement Antetokounmpo perfectly — alongside early-season trade acquisition Eric Bledsoe, a proven scorer.
Speculation is already swirling about who the Bucks' next head coach will be. The Ringer's Bill Simmons predicted that TV analyst and former head New York Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy would be interested, while USA Today's Sam Amick said that former New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams could become an early favorite for the job. In the interim, Bucks assistant coach Joe Prunty will take the reigns, starting with Monday's game against the Phoenix Suns. Kelly O'Meara Morales