In it, but not of it. TPM DC

What the heck happened on the Senate floor last night?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was on the floor Tuesday night speaking out against the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be the next attorney general. Democrats have spent the last few nights on the floor railing against Trump's nominees. Warren was reading from a 1986 Coretta Scott King letter that criticized Sessions' record on civil rights.

Then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) objected to Warren's reading of the letter, sending into motion the deployment of a rarely-used Senate rule that blocks lawmakers from speaking ill of colleagues.

The Senate voted along party lines to rebuke Warren for her remarks, effectively silencing her.

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A procedural scuffle between Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) brought back to the forefront accusations that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), President Trump’s attorney general nominee, sought to prosecute voter outreach efforts in black counties in Alabama earlier in his career.

The episode during Sessions' time as a U.S. attorney was among the concerns that sunk Sessions’ nominations to a federal judgeship in the mid-1980s, and it was brought up again by Democrats during Sessions’ attorney general confirmation process. Tuesday evening, Warren attempted to read from the Senate floor a letter from the late Coretta Scott King, a civil rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., in which she accused Sessions of using “the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.”

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Tierney Sneed and Caitlin MacNeal contributed to this report.

Their slogan is "repeal and replace," but as Republicans debate their vision for an Obamacare alternative, they are beginning to see that options are limited, the politics are fraught and the clock is already ticking into President Donald Trump's first 100 days.

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Judging by the first round of legislation and reported regulations being mulled by Republicans, GOP lawmakers intend to focus on meeting requests by insurers to keep the individual market stable as they move forward with repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on health held hearings on four pieces of legislation, three of which involving tweaks to Obamacare insurers have long recommended. (The fourth bill was a GOP promise to protect the coverage of those with pre-existing conditions, though the mechanism to do so was unclear). Meanwhile, the Health and Human Services Department under President Trump is reportedly weighing regulatory changes to Obamacare that would achieve similar goals.

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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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