In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Conservative groups railed against the Obamacare repeal legislation released by House leadership this week, taking issue with the refundable tax credits the bill offers, as well as a continuous coverage requirement which critics likened to the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate.

A statement Tuesday from Jason Pye, director of public policy and legislative affairs at FreedomWorks, labeled the GOP bill "ObamaCare-lite." Michael Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action, argued the legislation "not only accepts the flawed progressive premises of Obamacare but expands upon them." The staff of the Republican Study Committee, which boasts 170 members in the House, said in a memo obtained by Bloomberg that the tax credits amounted to "a Republican welfare entitlement.”

Meanwhile, the House Freedom Caucus, a group of hardliners known to derail Republican agenda items, is planning its own press conference on the legislation later Tuesday afternoon. The House hardliners will be joined by Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has introduced his own Obamacare replacement legislation that has the backing of conservatives.

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After seven years of failing to coalesce around an Obamacare replacement bill, GOP congressional leaders unveiled Monday evening legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a program that includes enough government assistance to alienate conservatives, who have called some of the proposals "Obamacare-lite," while scaling back other coverage gains made under the ACA that could make moderate Republicans uncomfortable.

Here are 5 points on how to assess the legislation and the questions that remain:

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Legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act was unveiled Monday evening, in a bill submitted to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Republicans were scrambling through the weekend to make last-minute changes to the bill and comes after multiple debates over the approach the GOP should take in repealing Obamacare bogged down the effort. The bill include some replacement elements, but would also dramatically pull back assistance the federal government offers to help people obtain insurance coverage.

The legislation would transform Medicaid into a block grant with a per capita cap, meaning states would received a fixed amount of funding per enrollee to the program. The expanded Medicaid program some states opted into under the ACA would be allowed to continue until 2020, at which point expansion states would freeze their enrollments.

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President Donald Trump’s tweet first, ask questions later approach to governance took an odd turn this weekend.

The White House asked Congress to investigate allegations, first laid out by the President on Twitter Saturday, that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election. Congressional experts who spoke with TPM said the President has no authority to direct lawmakers’ investigations, and that it is a bizarre move for the commander-in-chief to ask Congress to investigate himself.

“The investigative power of committee is a congressional tool, not a presidential tool. That the President would assume that he could essentially demand or dictate to Congress that they change the focus of an investigation is I think pretty much unprecedented," Bruce Miroff, an expert on the U.S. presidency at the University of Albany, explained. "And it is a reminder again that, to put it bluntly, Trump doesn’t understand the separation of power system.”

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Four Republicans senators hailing from states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act fired a shot across the bow -- in the form of a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) -- against the changes to the program that were included in draft House Obamacare repeal legislation.

"While we support efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and make structural reforms to the Medicaid program, we are concerned that the February 10th draft proposal from the House of Representatives does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or the necessary flexibility for states," the letter, signed by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), said.

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The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that its projections for the federal government's spending on the Affordable Care Act's coverage provisions in 2019 are now a third lower than what they were when the law was passed in 2010.

CBO Director Keith Hall said in written responses to questions posed by the House Budget Committee that the CBO expects the federal government to spend $148 billion in 2019 on the law's coverage provisions, down from the $214 billion estimated when the law was passed.

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Democrats are itching for a comeback after President Donald Trump's stunning upset victory in November, and they're eyeing to make it happen in a ruby-red district in Georgia.

Tom Price's confirmation as secretary of health and human services left open a seat in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, a fairly wealthy, well-educated suburb north of Atlanta. It's a solidly Republican district where Price consistently won re-election without breaking a sweat. But Trump won the district by just one point in November, giving Democrats a glimmer of hope that they can turn the district blue in an April special election to replace Price.

Despite their optimism, nonpartisan observers and, of course, Republicans, are skeptical that Democrats have a real shot at flipping the district. While the race may turn out closer than is typical for the district, experts on Georgia state politics suggest Trump's slim margin was an anomaly and that the seat will remain solidly Republican.

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LATE UPDATE Tuesday March 7, 2017 3:42 pm: In a phone interview, J.D. Gordon again disputed Diana Denman’s version of events, and said reports that he has changed his story about his degree of involvement in the Ukraine amendment she proposed were a “leap.” “I didn’t change the platform nor did I say I did,” Gordon said. Instead, Gordon recalled, he spoke privately with RNC national security subcommittee chairman Steve Yates during the meeting in which the amendment was discussed, and told him that language about providing Ukraine with “lethal defensive weapons” was a “problem” because it broke with Trump’s statements on wanting improved relations with Russia and not wanting to go World War III over Ukraine. He said Yates told him they would have a “robust discussion with delegates, and that was it.”

“[CNN’s] Jim Acosta took that to mean I pushed for the amendment,” Gordon said. “I mean, what’s the definition of pushed for the amendment, right? It’s an issue of semantics.”

Original story below: Until Thursday, the Trump campaign team’s official line was that it played no role in softening language regarding Ukraine in the GOP platform during the Republican National Convention last summer in Cleveland.

But then J.D. Gordon, the Trump campaign’s national security policy representative at the RNC, told CNN that he had personally advocated for altering an amendment on Ukraine, providing vindication to the Republican delegate who initially proposed it.

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LATE UPDATE Tuesday March 7, 2017 3:42 pm: In a phone interview, J.D. Gordon again disputed Diana Denman’s version of events, and said reports that he has changed his story about his degree of involvement in the Ukraine amendment she proposed were a “leap.” “I didn’t change the platform nor did I say I did,” Gordon said. Instead, Gordon recalled, he spoke privately with RNC national security subcommittee chairman Steve Yates during the meeting in which the amendment was discussed, and told him that language about providing Ukraine with “lethal defensive weapons” was a “problem” because it broke with Trump’s statements on wanting improved relations with Russia and not wanting to go World War III over Ukraine. He said Yates told him they would have a “robust discussion with delegates, and that was it.”

“[CNN’s] Jim Acosta took that to mean I pushed for the amendment,” Gordon said. “I mean, what’s the definition of pushed for the amendment, right? It’s an issue of semantics.”

Original story below: In a significant reversal, a Trump campaign official on Thursday told CNN that he personally advocated for softening the language on Ukraine in the GOP platform at the Republican National Convention, and that he did so on behalf of the President.

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Like many in the Trump administration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ views on Russia have shifted over time.

As a senator from Alabama, Sessions was a Russia hawk who cautioned that President Vladimir Putin posed a risk to the security of Europe and the United States. By March 2016, when he joined Donald Trump's campaign as a senior national security adviser, he began moderating that language, casting doubts on reports that Russia was behind the hacks of Democratic organizations and operatives last summer and claiming closer ties between Putin and the next President would be beneficial.

Comments Sessions made on Russian interference in the U.S. election during his confirmation hearing, in particular, are under a microscope after the Washington Post revealed Wednesday that he failed to disclose two conversations he had with Russian ambassador Segey Kislyak during the campaign. Sessions was one of Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill at the time, while investigations into Russia’s involvement in the election already were underway.

Here's a rough timeline of Sessions’ comments on Russia and election interference:

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