In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Lauren Fox contributed reporting.

With the Affordable Care Act squarely in their sights, conservative lawmakers and activists are beginning to wonder why the GOP leadership in Congress isn't pulling the trigger.

It’s been over a month since the new GOP-controlled Congress came to Washington, and three months since President Trump’s surprise victory secured for Republicans an opportunity to do away with President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Yet lawmakers, at least in their public statements, have not moved far in their plan to do so, beyond a vote on a procedural first step.

The lack of action -- and even the lack of clarity about what eventual action will look like -- is causing frustration among the GOP’s right flank and its outside organizations.

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Constituents requesting that Rep. Jimmy Duncan Jr. (R-TN) hold a town hall on repealing the Affordable Care Act aren't being met with a polite brushoff from staffers anymore. Instead, Duncan's office has started sending out a form letter telling them point-blank that he has no intention to hold any town hall meetings.

“I am not going to hold town hall meetings in this atmosphere, because they would very quickly turn into shouting opportunities for extremists, kooks and radicals,” the letter read, according to a copy obtained by the Maryville Daily Times. “Also, I do not intend to give more publicity to those on the far left who have so much hatred, anger and frustration in them.”

In the first weeks of the 115th Congress, elected officials dropping by their home districts were surprised to find town halls packed to the rafters with concerned constituents. Caught off guard and on camera, lawmakers were asked to defend President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and provide a timeline on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Now, many of them are skipping out on these events entirely. Some have said large meetings are an ineffective format for addressing individual concerns. Many others have, like the President himself, dismissed those questioning their agenda as “paid protesters” or radical activists who could pose a physical threat.

Voters turning out to town halls are pushing back hard on this characterization, arguing that they represent varied ideological backgrounds and have diverse issues to raise. Constituents unable to meet with their elected officials over the weekend told TPM that they’re not attending town hall events to make trouble. Instead, they say they want accountability from the people they pay to represent them.

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President Donald Trump gave an indication Sunday that Republicans may be behind when it comes to Obamacare repeal and replace, and they may not finish it until 2018.

In an interview on Fox Sunday, Trump said that the process might "take till sometime into next year."

Already some House Republicans have voiced frustration and irritation that the process to repeal and replace Obamacare has slowed.

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There is mounting frustration on Capitol Hill with how President Donald Trump has conducted himself in his first week and a half in office.

Trump's decision last week to roll out an executive order that restricted travel from seven-majority Muslim countries and temporarily halted the U.S. refugee program, reportedly without consulting his Capitol Hill, Justice Department or Department of Homeland Security, bruised egos and left congressional Republicans stunned. Some worried that this could be their new normal.

"I got the impression that the people who were briefing us know there needs to be more caution, I'm not sure the President knows that," said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who was coming out of a briefing Tuesday with DHS Secretary Gen. John Kelly.

Hill GOPers already identified an aggressive agenda for the year ahead, including repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and overhauling the U.S. tax code. But those plans keep getting overshadowed by a White House and President that shoots from the hip and goes ahead with their own agenda without even consulting the first branch of government.

Every new relationship has its growing pains, but for Republicans who've spent the last eight years defining their agenda in opposition to former President Barack Obama, winning the White House wasn't supposed to be like this at all.

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A snapshot of enrollment numbers released Friday reveal that sign-ups in the final days of enrollment are down in 2017, when compared to the similar period of 2016.

Between January 15 and 31, less than 400,000 people signed up for plans on the website used by 39 states, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said. Nearly 700,000 people signed up in the last two weeks of enrollment last year, according to the Washington Examiner.

Altogether, 9.2 million people signed up for individual insurance plans in the most recent open enrollment period, a decrease of 400,000, according to Bloomberg.

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A recent addition to Donald Trump’s White House team is quickly becoming the new face of the administration’s foreign policy shop: Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka.

Gorka, who formally joined the administration in late January and previously served as an editor at Breitbart News, has been deployed across the cable networks and airwaves this week to discuss Trump putting Iran “on notice” as well as the fallout from the President's executive order on immigration.

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In the thirteen days since President Donald Trump was sworn in, headlines have screamed about mass dismissals at federal agencies, tense phone calls with world leaders, and a commander-in-chief who stewed for days over coverage of his inauguration crowd size.

Many of these unflattering details about the turmoil at the White House and inner psychology of the President have come from a steady stream of anonymous leaks. Presidential historians and veteran political journalists agree they’re unlike anything they’ve seen before.

“I can’t recall having seen a situation where there appears to be so much leaking of such an intimate nature in such a short period of time,” Russell Riley, expert on presidential history at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, told TPM.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) told reporters Thursday that he values Australia as a U.S. ally after reports surfaced that President Donald Trump had a testy phone call with the Australian Prime Minister and hung up early.

"I don't think Australia should be worried about it's relationship with our new president or our country for that matter," Ryan said. "I know your country well, I've met with your leaders continuously over the last number of years."

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To riff on the bard, a Muslim ban by any other name is still a political and legal problem for President Donald Trump.

Defenders of a controversial immigration executive order signed by Trump last week have suddenly taken issue with calling the order a "ban," be it a "Muslim ban," a "travel ban" or otherwise. White House press secretary Sean Spicer went as far as to scold journalists for using the term, even as Trump himself has continued to use the label.

But legal experts, as well as the civil rights advocates suing over the executive order, are pointing to another comment made by Trump, that they say bolsters the case that it is a ban of some sort, and one that may be illegal. Trump, in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network almost immediately after signing the order, said that one of its purposes was to make it easier for Christians to enter the United States.

"It seems to me the soft underbelly of the legal defense is this business about Christians, because not only is that subject to Equal Protection and Establishment Clause [questions] on its own, but it suggests that this is a Muslim ban,” said Michael Meltsner, a professor at Northeastern University School of Law.

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