In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Republicans in Congress kicked off their new session by taking the first steps toward repealing Obamacare.

The moves were mostly procedural and more-or-less expected, but they nonetheless signaled that GOP lawmakers intended to follow through on their promises last year to make dismantling the Affordable Care Act priority No. 1.

The first move, in the House, was the introduction of new chamber rules before Christmas and approved by the full body Tuesday, that included a special glide path for their Obamacare efforts. The second was a budget resolution introduced by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) Tuesday to jump-start the budgetary maneuver known as reconciliation, by which Republicans will be able to avoid a Democratic filibuster in the upper chamber.

Together the two moves reflect the complicated procedural path Republicans will have to navigate to get a repeal bill to the White House

Read More →

On Monday night, in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill a handful of Republican members rose and told their stories about how the Office of Congressional Ethics had personally hurt them.

"Some really good people have been hurt," Rep. Peter King (R-NY) recounted later.

"One member talked about how ... it costs his staffer $30,000 and it cost him $60,000 and they did nothing wrong. They were found innocent, but at the end of the day, it cost," said Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), describing the meeting. "Many felt very passionately about it especially those who were found to have done nothing wrong."

Read More →

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) hates Obamacare so much that he doesn't even want the Supreme Court to cite its own major Obamacare cases in future opinions, according to a bill he introduced Tuesday.

The bill itself list the names of major lawsuits the Affordable Care Act has faced at the Supreme Court and bars them "from citation for the purpose of precedence in all future cases."

Read More →

Facing scathing scrutiny after opening the 115th Congress with a secret midnight vote to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, House Republicans on Tuesday abruptly withdrew the amendment before it could even go before the full chamber for a vote.

Bipartisan ethics watchdog groups led the charge, issuing blistering statements that attacked GOP lawmakers for undermining transparency and accountability in order to protect their own reputations.

“There has been such a backlash and so much tweeting and communication via public channels about this,” Viveca Novak of the Center for Responsive Politics told TPM. “They’re not just going to be able to ram it through with no repercussions.”

Read More →

After a fierce public backlash, the House GOP reversed course and withdrew the rules change that would have gutted the Office of Congressional Ethics, according to members who were present at the emergency GOP meeting mid-day Tuesday.

The amendment, put forward by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), that would have significantly hobbled the Office of Congressional Ethics was approved overwhelmingly by the GOP caucus Monday night in a closed-door meeting, but was meet with swift public outcry. The provision would have put the office under the control of the House Ethics Committee, reducing its independence, and would have blocked some of its other powers, including its abilities to accept anonymous tips and to report suspected crimes directly to law enforcement.

Read More →

House Republicans are holding an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss a changes they made Monday to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, according to a Republican congressional aide.

The change – which was included in a comprehensive rules package– would change the way the OCE is governed and would largely nullify the independent body's power and put it under the control of the congressionally run House Ethics Committee.

The change was highly controversial, with 74 Republicans actually voting against it.

The rules change faced incredible backlash Monday night and early Tuesday with Republican President-elect Donald Trump even tweeting Tuesday that he thought Republicans had better things to do.

Read More →

Chief Justice John Roberts requested on Tuesday that a response be filed to an emergency request by North Carolina late last month that the 2017 special elections ordered by a federal court be put off as the case that prompted them -- a major racial gerrymandering lawsuit -- is appealed.

The move Tuesday was a fairly minor procedural move by Roberts, who oversees the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals where North Carolina resides, but the emergency request suggests an attempt to put off special elections where Republicans risk losing seats with the redrawn districts. The state officials' legal moves are also part of a series of last-ditch efforts by North Carolina Republicans to undermine incoming Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

Read More →