Washington Brief: CBO Score of Republican Health Plan Rattles Some GOP Senators

Washington Brief

  • The Congressional Budget Office released its score of the House GOP’s health care plan, saying it would lead to 24 million more uninsured Americans over the next decade amid a $337 billion cut to the federal deficit. (The Wall Street Journal) An internal White House document predicts 26 million people would lose coverage under the plan. (Politico)
  • The Justice Department asked the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee for more time to collect evidence about President Donald Trump’s wiretapping claims against his predecessor. (CNN)
  • As Judge Neil Gorsuch prepares for his Supreme Court confirmation hearing next week, Democrats have yet to land a punch – and it is not clear if they all want to. (Politico)
  • Senate Democrats appear ready to go to the mat if Republicans try to attach funding for a border wall to must-pass spending legislation next month. In a letter to GOP leaders on Monday, the Democratic senators raised the specter of a government shutdown. (Morning Consult)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing for USTR nominee Lighthizer 2 p.m.
Washington Post event on Trump’s First 50 Days 9 a.m.
House Armed Services Committee hearing on security challenges in Middle East 10 a.m.
Trump campaign rally in Nashville, Tenn. 6:30 p.m.
House Budget Committee markup of AHCA 10 a.m.
Heritage Foundation event on tobacco, e-cigarette regulations 12 p.m.
No events scheduledNo events scheduled



IRS strips tax-exempt status from Richard Spencer’s white nationalist nonprofit
Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times

The nonprofit run by one of America’s most prominent white nationalists, Richard Spencer, has lost its tax-exempt status for failing to file tax returns with the federal government, according to Internal Revenue Service records. An inquiry by The Times also raised questions about whether Spencer had properly filed paperwork allowing the National Policy Institute to raise funds in Virginia, its primary place of business, and whether Spencer, a Donald Trump supporter, had flouted federal rules that forbid nonprofits from supporting or opposing political candidates.

Facebook Bans Use of User Data for Surveillance
Deepa Seetharaman, The Wall Street Journal

Facebook Inc. said on Monday that data about its users cannot be used for surveillance, cracking down on a method police departments allegedly used to track protesters and activists. The social-media company updated its data policies to explicitly prohibit using “data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance.”

Washington’s Spy Paranoia
Molly Ball, The Atlantic

Who did the Russian ambassador meet in D.C.? Welcome to America’s capital city, where everyday encounters may not be what they seem.


White House analysis of Obamacare repeal sees even deeper insurance losses than CBO
Paul Demko, Politico

The White House’s own internal analysis of the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare show even steeper coverage losses than the projections by the Congressional Budget Office, according to a document viewed by POLITICO on Monday. The executive branch analysis forecast that 26 million people would lose coverage over the next decade, versus the 24 million CBO estimate — a finding that undermines White House efforts to discredit the forecasts from the nonpartisan CBO.

Justice department asks for more time to collect evidence on Trump wiretap claims
Manu Raju et al., CNN

The Department of Justice asked the chairman and vice chairman of the House Intelligence Committee for “additional time” to collect evidence to support President Donald Trump’s accusation that the Obama administration wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower during the campaign. The committee had set a Monday deadline for the agency to provide the evidence, a source familiar with the matter has told CNN — a deadline that did not appear to apply to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation.

Trump Gave CIA Power to Launch Drone Strikes
Gordon Lubold and Shane Harris, The Wall Street Journal

President Donald Trump has given the Central Intelligence Agency secret new authority to conduct drone strikes against suspected terrorists, U.S. officials said, changing the Obama administration’s policy of limiting the spy agency’s paramilitary role and reopening a turf war between the agency and the Pentagon. The new authority, which hadn’t been previously disclosed, represents a significant departure from a cooperative approach that had become standard practice by the end of former President Barack Obama’s tenure: The CIA used drones and other intelligence resources to locate suspected terrorists and then the military conducted the actual strike.

Angela Merkel to Meet Donald Trump Amid Host of Policy Differences
Antonin Troianovski et al., The Wall Street Journal 

President Trump often slammed Angela Merkel on the campaign trail, calling her refugee policy “insane.” When the German chancellor meets her new American counterpart for the first time on Tuesday, she will come face to face with the gaping differences over that and a host of trade and other policies clouding a vital trans-Atlantic relationship.

Is Trump Trolling The White House Press Corps?
Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker 

At daily briefings, Sean Spicer calls on young journalists from far-right sites. The mainstream media sees them as an existential threat.


Democrats paralyzed as Gorsuch skates
Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett, Politico

Democrats can’t seem to land a punch on Neil Gorsuch — and it’s not even clear they want to. President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has breezed through more than 70 meetings with senators.

Senate Democrats Raise Specter of Shutdown Over Border Wall Funding
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult

Senate Democrats are warning GOP leaders not to include funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in a funding bill to keep the government open, saying it could jeopardize the measure’s passage. “We believe it would be inappropriate to insist on the inclusion of such funding in a must-pass appropriations bill that is needed for the Republican majority in control of the Congress to avert a government shutdown so early in President Trump’s Administration,” the Democrats said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).

Mike Lee Doubts House GOP Health Plan Complies With Senate Rules
Niels Lesniewski, 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).

Agriculture Nominee Moves Closer to Confirmation Hearing
Ellyn Ferguson, Roll Call

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue agreed to extricate himself from a web of interests and restructure two family trusts to remove himself and his wife from active involvement if he wins confirmation as Agriculture secretary, according his disclosure documents at the Office of Government Ethics. The release of Perdue’s financial disclosure and ethics agreement sets the stage for the Senate Agriculture Committee to schedule a confirmation hearing.  


CBO Sees 24 Million More Uninsured, $337 Billion Deficit Cut in Coming Decade With GOP Health Plan
Stephanie Armour and Kristina Peterson, The Wall Street Journal

The number of Americans without health insurance would grow by 24 million under a House Republican proposal to topple most of the Affordable Care Act, according to a nonpartisan report that is likely to complicate GOP lawmakers’ efforts to unite around the plan. The report, released Monday by the Congressional Budget Office, rattled some centrist Republicans in the Senate who have said they won’t support legislation that leaves a large number of people without coverage.

Steve King, Hurling Insults at Immigrants, Is Rebuked by His Own Party
Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times

Long before Donald J. Trump took aim at immigrants, there was Representative Steve King of Iowa. Since Mr. King’s election to the House in 2002, and before that in the State Legislature, where he first tried out his English-only trademark talking point, Mr. King, a Republican, has injected himself into the immigration debate with inflammatory and at times boorish statements.

House Democrats to huddle with DHS chief Friday
Heather Caygle, Politico

House Democrats will meet with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Friday to talk about everything from the administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants to the new travel ban. The caucus-wide confab will be House Democrats’ first introduction to Kelly and follows a rocky meeting with top immigration enforcement officials with several Democrats last month.


Connie Pillich is 3rd Democrat to announce bid for Ohio governor
Randy Ludlow, The Columbus Dispatch

The Democratic field for Ohio governor gained its third candidate today as former state Rep. Connie Pillich declared she will seek the party’s nomination in 2018. It will mark the second statewide run for Pillich, a lawyer and former Air Force captain who served three terms in the Ohio House.

Brian Kemp to run for Georgia governor in 2018
Greg Bluestein, Atlanta Journal Constitution  

Secretary of State Brian Kemp will join the the 2018 race for Georgia governor, according to an official with direct knowledge of the Republican’s decision. It’s unclear when Kemp will formally announce.

Illinois comptroller stops payments for governor’s computer modernization
David McKinney, Reuters

Illinois’ state comptroller has suspended $27 million in payments for a computer technology initiative launched by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, according to a letter seen by Reuters, opening a new front in an ongoing feud over finances. The move by Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza targets one of the governor’s priorities and comes as Illinois faces a record $12.3 billion backlog of unpaid bills that has more than tripled in the 21 months the state has gone without a full operating budget.

Kansas senator compares Planned Parenthood to Nazi concentration camp
Hunter Woodall, The Kansas City Star

A Kansas senator compared Planned Parenthood to a Nazi concentration camp after being told that a donation to the organization had been made in his name. Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a Leavenworth Republican, wrote to Planned Parenthood last week, saying “shame on anyone that would attempt to blacken my name in this manner.”


GOP’s health bill push left health industry largely out of early talks
Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Washington Post

To get the Affordable Care Act passed, Democrats used a big-tent approach, convening health-care groups that did not normally talk to one another while cutting deals and strong-arming key industry players to build broad support for the plan. First, the drug companies got on board. Then came the hospitals and the doctors.

A Key Part of the GOP’s Plan to Overhaul the Tax Code Is in Deep Trouble
Lynnley Browning, Bloomberg Businessweek

Since Donald Trump’s surprise election victory, the president and Republican leaders in Congress have described tax reform as a top priority—a once-in-a-generation chance to overhaul the tax code in a way that lowers rates for companies and individuals, encourages businesses to make things at home instead of abroad, and ends incentives for companies to book profits overseas. All without raising the budget deficit.

Trump Labor Nominee Acosta to Get Backup on TV Airwaves
Kevin Cirilli and Kathryn Glass, Bloomberg News 

A Republican group said it’s launching an advertising campaign to support President Donald Trump’s choice for U.S. labor secretary, R. Alexander Acosta, as his confirmation hearing nears. The push comes as the Trump administration bemoans unfilled cabinet seats that it blames on Senate Democrats.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Trading Health Care for the Poor for Tax Cuts for the Rich
The Editorial Board, The New York Times

So much for President Trump’s pledge of “insurance for everybody.” The Congressional Budget Office said on Monday that next year 14 million fewer Americans will have insurance if the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is repealed and replaced on the terms the president is seeking.

CBO’s Prophecies, Demystified
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

The white smoke rose Monday afternoon from the Congressional Budget Office as the fiscal forecasters published their cost-and-coverage estimates of the GOP health-care reform bill. Awaiting such predictions—and then investing them with supposed clairvoyance—are Beltway rituals.

Voters Won’t Ignore This CBO Score
Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View

Well, the Congressional Budget Office has released its score for the new Republican health care bill. And those of us who covered Obamacare’s passage are having flashbacks to 2009.

Why we need more forces to end the stalemate in Afghanistan
John McCain and Lindsey Graham, The Washington Post

On Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists murdered 3,000 innocent civilians on American soil while under the sanctuary of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. In response to that attack, U.S. and NATO forces deployed to Afghanistan to hunt down those responsible and ensure that Afghanistan would never again be a haven for terrorists.

Criminal justice reform: A women’s issue
Rep. Mia Love and Holly Harris, The Hill 

The media has devoted a lot of ink and airtime to the sky-high incarceration rates here in the U.S., but sadly, that coverage often ignores a key demographic: women. The female prison population has spiked in recent years, and since Wednesday marked International Women’s Day, we thought this would be a good time to shed more light on this disturbing trend.



A previous version of this brief misspelled Harris’ first name.

Research Reports and Polling

Cost Estimate: American Health Care Act
Congressional Budget Office 

The Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2017 directed the House Committees on Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce to develop legislation to reduce the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have produced an estimate of the budgetary effects of the American Health Care Act, which combines the pieces of legislation approved by the two committees pursuant to that resolution.