In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Asked about Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that guaranteed abortion rights nationwide, Judge Neil Gorsuch stopped short Tuesday of fully endorsing the decision, but suggested he would "consider it as precedent" and viewed it as "worthy as treatment of precedent like any other. "

"It has been reaffirmed, the reliance interest considerations are important there, and all of the other factors that go into analyzing precedent have to be considered. It is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court," Gorsuch said at the second day of his confirmation hearings. "It was reaffirmed in Casey in 1992, and in several other cases. So a good judge will consider it as precedent of the United States Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other. "

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Judge Neil Gorsuch largely dodged controversial proposals peddled by Donald Trump from the campaign stump -- proposals that have already prompted litigation and very well may end up at the Supreme Court -- at his confirmation hearing Tuesday.

He said that he would have “no difficulty” ruling against Trump, but often deflected on getting into speculation on specific cases or issues. On Trump’s promise to ban Muslims -- which has manifested in a travel ban against about a half dozen countries since he took office -- Gorsuch would not comment on Trump’s latest version of the policy, and would only said that "government must meet strict scrutiny" before implementing a regulation based on religious belief.

When grilled on Trump’s comments about bringing back torture, Gorsuch pointed to existing statutes on detainee treatment and the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) if Trump had the right to “the right to authorize torture if it” violated those laws, Gorsuch said, “no man is above the law.”

Where the judge was most clear and definitive in his Trump-related answers Tuesday was in denying that there any sort of litmus test invoked while he was being vetted for his nomination by Trump.

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to select a judge for the Supreme Court who would be strong on gun rights and would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 abortion decision.

"I would have walked out of the door," Gorsuch said, when asked by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) what he would have done if Trump asked for a commitment to overturn Roe.

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In the face of bad reviews from health care policy experts, the insurance industry and providers, and a revolt from some members of their own caucus, Republican leaders are scrambling to sell their Obamacare replacement bill by employing a boat loads of half-truths, inaccuracies, contradictions and metaphors.

The legislation, the American Health Care Act, would pay for a major tax break for the wealthy with massive cuts to Medicaid, while shifting around the tax credits provided by Obamacare to the benefit of young people and middle-income earners, with the old and low-income earners bearing the burden.

Here are the seven biggest cons Republicans are peddling in their pitch to sell Obamacare repeal.

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The conservative holdouts resisting the Republican legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare said Monday that bill has not been changed enough to earn their votes, even as House leadership has reportedly signaled that negotiations over major alterations to the legislation are over.

The line the conservatives drew in the sand comes as a final amendments package, known as a manager's amendment, is being rolled Monday night by House leaders and the White House designed to win over the moderates and other Republicans by offering small tweaks and giveaways in the legislation.

“I'm confident that we have still enough concerns that a vote of 216 votes in the House would not happen today,” Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) told reporters, based on what he's heard about what were among the latest round of changes. “We’ve been led to believe that there are no more amendments that will be allowed that substantially change things and so if that’s the case, it makes it very difficult if not impossible to get to 216."

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Hours before the start of Monday’s long-awaited House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia’s interference in the U.S. election, President Donald Trump sent a tweet saying the “real story” is “the leaking of Classified information” about his administration. Republicans on the committee were apparently on the same page.

The partisan divide in questioning was stark: an overwhelming number of the questions Republicans directed to FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers focused on the national security risks and criminal consequences of leaking classified material to the press, while Democrats on the committee honed in on the explosive revelations that those leaks brought to light.

Over the course of the five-and-a-half-hour long hearing, Democrats surfaced the links between and Russian officials and Trump associates, Russia’s cyberattacks of U.S. systems, and Trump’s baseless allegation that he had his “wires tapped” by former President Barack Obama.

But Republicans barely touched on those subjects, staying laser-focused on leaks to the press—even suggesting, without evidence, that top Obama administration officials could be responsible for the leaks that led to the ouster of Trump's first national security adviser.

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in his opening remarks at Monday’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing argued that President Trump’s nominee Neil Gorsuch had a “super legitimacy” because he was nominated after a presidential election. He failed to mention, however, that Trump was only allowed to name Gorsuch because the GOP blockade of President Obama's nominee, whom Republicans blocked from even receiving a hearing.

"Given that history, given the engagement of the electorate nationally on this central issue, I would suggest that Judge Gorsuch is no ordinary nominee. Because of this unique and transparent process, unprecedented in the nation's history, his nomination carries with it a super legitimacy that is also unprecedented in our nation's history,” Cruz said. “The American people played a very direct role in helping choose this nominee."

Cruz did not mention Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland by name, but Democrats have name-checked him multiple times throughout their opening remarks Monday.

"It was almost a year ago today that president Obama nominated chief judge Merrick Garland for this seat,” the Judiciary Committee’s top Dem, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said. “Unfortunately, due to unprecedented treatment, Judge Garland was denied a hearing, and this vacancy has been in place for well over a year. I just want to say I am deeply disappointed that it under these circumstances that we begin our hearings."

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The budget blueprint President Donald Trump released last week—which calls for gutting an array of domestic programs to finance a massive military spending bonanza—would have to clear many political and legal hurdles before becoming law.

But an additional unusual obstacle has emerged: pushback from members of his own party.

On Capitol Hill, the same Republicans who railed for years against President Obama's spending priorities are being forced into an awkward position by Trump's budget proposal: defending the Environmental Protection Agency, National Endowment for the Arts, and other federal programs, and decrying efforts to lavish money on the Pentagon.

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Members of the House's conservative Republican Study Committee emerged from a meeting with President Donald Trump on Friday more eager to support the embattled health care repeal bill that GOP leadership is aiming to bring to a House floor vote next week.

"One hundred percent of the noes were now yeses," Trump boasted.

Several lawmakers who were in the White House meeting confirmed to TPM that two promised changes to the bill were enough to flip them from no or undecided to yes: a provision to allow states to impose work requirements on able-bodied Medicaid recipients, and another giving states the option of getting their Medicaid funding in a block grant instead of the per capita capped funding system the current version of the legislation proposes.

RSC Chair Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) told reporters these changes will be introduced as an amendment to the American Health Care Act in the Rules Committee markup next week.

"We had eight members of our steering committee who were undecided or no. Based on these two requests, all moved to 'yes' today," he said.

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The major seniors group the AARP railed against the "harmful" Republican health care bill the House aims to vote on next week in a press release Friday that said the organization will "communicate the results of the House vote to our members and the public through The Bulletin, a print publication that goes to all of our members, as well as through emails, social media, and other communications channels."

The group also sent a letter to all 435 House members calling for a no vote on the legislation, the American Health Care Act, the release said.

"AARP recognizes the magnitude of the upcoming vote on this harmful legislation that creates an Age Tax, cuts the life of Medicare, and gives sweetheart deals to big drug and insurance companies while doing nothing to lower the cost of health care or prescriptions," AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said in the statement. "We intend on letting all 38 million of our members know exactly how their Representative voted."

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