In it, but not of it. TPM DC

There's very little Democrats can do to kneecap President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet picks as confirmation hearings kick into gear later this month—and Trump knows it.

His will be the first Cabinet sworn in since Democrats went nuclear in 2013 and did away with the filibuster, which used to require 60 votes for confirmation of most presidential nominees. That change may have fundamentally changed the way the Cabinet nomination process is working, and congressional experts say the loss of the filibuster even may have influenced Trump's selection of nominees.

"For a typical president, knowing that there is at least that risk of a filibuster ...would have at least something of a tempering effect on who you nominate," Eric Schickler, a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, told TPM. "What we're seeing with Trump, he's obviously chosen to nominate some people who are pretty far out there and his ability to succeed with that is higher in a world without the filibuster."

Indeed, Trump has been emboldened to choose an unorthodox roster of Cabinet nominees, many of whom have little relevant government experience.

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A divided federal appeals court panel on Thursday greenlit the next steps in considering an effort launched by outside Obamacare defenders to intervene in an lawsuit targeting a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an order requesting that the dueling parties in the lawsuit, the Obama administration and the House GOP, file responses to a request from two Obamacare enrollees to intervene in the case, House v. Burwell. The move suggests that the court is likely to make a decision as to whether the Obamacare enrollees may take over the defense of the law if the Justice Department backs down from its appeal of the case under Donald Trump. House Republicans had previously asked the court to reject the enrollees' request to consider their intervention.

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Republicans in Congress are waiting with bated breath for the moment when they pass a repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2017 and President-elect Donald Trump goes to sign it, but it's their colleagues back in their home states that may have the most to lose from scrapping the law.

The repeal plans congressional Republicans have floated wouldn't likely take effect until 2019 or 2020. But already, governors and state legislatures are voicing concerns that repealing the ACA may leave millions of people uninsured, as well as take away some of the mechanisms that helped their states drastically slash their uninsured rates.

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Donald Trump announced in a surprise Christmas Eve statement that he plans to dissolve his scandal-plagued charitable organization to avoid any “possible conflict of interest.”

But doing so won’t be nearly as simple or as speedy as he may wish. Unfortunately for the President-elect, shuttering the Donald J. Trump Foundation will require cooperation from the charity’s chief antagonist, New York’s Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

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Senate Democrats released a statement Thursday morning calling on Trump's nominees to offer full financial disclosures and ethics statements if they want the confirmation processes to run smoothly.

In the statement, 16 Democrats – all ranking members on the relevant committees vetting Trump's nominees– asked that Trump's cabinet nominees submit more information ahead of hearings, which Republicans want to move on as soon as possible.

“The United States Senate has a rich, bipartisan tradition of vetting nominees to the President’s Cabinet. We hope to continue that tradition with our colleagues in the Republican Majority because the American people are entitled to a fair and open consideration process for all executive nominations," the committee said.

The statement appeared to draw a line against Trump's nominees skipping over steps that have traditionally been completed before a nominee moves on to a confirmation hearing. Those steps include a nominee clearing an FBI background check, turning over a "completed financial disclosure statement and ethics agreement signed by the Office of Government Ethics" and satisfying "reasonable requests for additional information and Members have time to review that material.”

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What will the left’s legal resistance to a President Trump’s administration look like? A move Tuesday by two Obamacare enrollees seeking to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit targeting Affordable Care Act offers a preview.

The details of the lawsuit are wonky, but involve payments to insurers that if eliminated could bring immediate chaos to the individual health insurance market. The enrollees' effort to get involved in the case also heralds the beginning of an era when Trump opponents -- largely shut out from controlling other levers of power -- will have to depend on the courts to push back on an agenda that they say is already raising serious legal and Constitutional concerns.

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A new report published by the Commonwealth Fund this week highlighted a variety of aspects of the insurance coverage gains made after Obamacare was passed, including a sizable decrease in the number of people who say they skipped going to the doctor because of cost concerns. In 2013, before the law had gone fully into effect, 20 percent of adults said they had forgone seeking medical treatment because of the cost. Two years later, after the ACA had been mostly implemented, that number had shrunk to 13 percent nationally. "The historic decline in uninsured rates has been accompanied by widespread reductions in cost-related access problems and improvements in access to routine care for at-risk adults," the study said.

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