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Alice Ollstein

Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.

Articles by Alice

As Senate Republicans struggled in late June to muster the votes for a health care overhaul, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) threw a Hail Mary pass, urging his colleagues to vote on a bill that would simply repeal the Affordable Care Act without creating anything to take its place.

Asked by TPM how the pitch was received, Paul deadpanned: “Not very well. Lead balloon.”

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As Senate Republicans lurch towards repealing the Affordable Care Act, party leaders and the Trump administration are pushing a new line about the projection that their bill would strip 22 million people of their health insurance over the next decade: that many or most of those people would be exercising their freedoms and dropping coverage by choice.

“If you’re not going to force people to buy something they don’t want, then they won’t buy it,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said on Fox News. “So it’s not that people are getting pushed off a plan. It’s that people will choose not to buy something they don’t like or want.”

Ryan’s GOP colleagues in the Senate are doubling down on this argument even as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and outside health care experts say it is largely the bill’s gutting of Medicaid, reduction of subsidies and increase in out-of-pocket costs that would price tens of millions of people out of the health care marketplace entirely.

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A bipartisan delegation of five senators visiting U.S. troops in Afghanistan for the Independence Day holiday issued a stark warning about the Trump administration’s lack of strategy for a military conflict that has dragged on for more than a decade.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) noted with concern that Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has yet to visit the country, and the administration has not yet nominated an ambassador in Kabul.

“It’s more than just dropping bombs that will win in Afghanistan,” Graham said. “Secretary Tillerson needs to come to Afghanistan quickly.”

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At a rally and parade in the border town of McAllen, Texas on Independence Day, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) clashed with a group of protesters who booed, heckled, and attempted to question him about his support for a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act.

According to the Texas Tribune, Cruz attempted to work the crowd and shake hands while avoiding the protesters, who held up signs reading “We’re pissed,” “No Medicaid cuts” and “No transfer of wealth 4 our health”—a reference to the massive tax cuts for the wealthy in the Senate GOP’s health care bill. Other protesters held signs attacking Cruz for his positions on immigration and climate change.

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In a scathing post on LinkedIn, Justice Department compliance counsel Hui Chen announced her decision to resign last month, saying it was impossible to go after corporate fraud and corruption when President Donald Trump himself was engaging in such practices.

“Trying to hold companies to standards that our current administration is not living up to was creating a cognitive dissonance that I could not overcome,” she wrote.

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A wide gulf continues to separate Republican senators as they furiously negotiate the fate of their health care bill after canceling a vote last week when it became evident it would go down in flames. While GOP senators cannot even agree on the basic questions of health care policy—whether people with pre-existing conditions should be protected from discrimination, whether or not to scrap Obamacare’s taxes on the wealthy, whether Obamacare should be repealed without a replacement ready—they have coalesced around a strategy of working the refs.

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White House officials confirmed Thursday that Donald Trump is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit next week. Russian government sources already had confirmed the two leaders would meet.

But asked in an off-camera briefing if the President would bring up in that meeting Russia’s interference in the 2016 election on his behalf—an effort confirmed by U.S. intelligence agencies—National Economic Council Chair Gary Cohn demurred.

“We don’t have an agenda set up right now,” he said. “As you know, these meetings are a week away. We haven’t finalized the schedule.”

When reporters asked what the Trump administration is doing, if anything, to hold Russia accountable for hacking in the run-up to the election and prevent such activity in the future, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said that all government departments are working together to “confront Russia’s destabilizing behavior” and “deter Russia.” He declined to give details of that effort.

McMaster then pivoted to speak in greater detail about the need for the United States to work with Russia on national security matters.

“What are the areas that we can identify in which we can work together with Russia? There are a lot of problems in the world that fall under that category,” he said, rattling off North Korea, battling international terrorism, and the ending the conflict in Syria.

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Tierney Sneed and Caitlin MacNeal contributed reporting.

Key senators from the far-right and more centrist wings of the Senate GOP conference indicated their openness Thursday to keeping some of Obamacare’s taxes in their health care bill in order to fund more generous support for lower income people purchasing health insurance.

“There is interest among a number of our members on that issue,” confirmed Sen. John Thune (R-SD), a member of the GOP leadership team. “I’ve been open all along, if that takes that to get consensus. But obviously, we’d like to get rid of all the taxes, because taxes were raised in order to pay for Obamacare, and we’re repealing Obamacare. But if it takes something like that to get our members on board and move this process forward, we have to consider that.”

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Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.

Senate Republicans emerged grim-faced and tight-lipped from a closed-door lunch meeting Tuesday with the news that they were delaying a vote on their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act until after the July 4 recess.

The decision came as more senators from both the hard-right and centrist wings of the caucus announced their intent to vote no on a procedural hurdle, effectively stopping the bill dead in its tracks. Some of these defections were fueled by a brutal Congressional Budget Office analysis that showed the bill would cause 22 million people to lose their health insurance over the next decade.

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