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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

President Trump’s immigration-heavy State of the Union address, laden with warnings about crime and terrorism and heaped with false assertions, may darken the already dimming prospects for a bipartisan deal to protect young immigrants known as Dreamers whose protections Trump revoked last year.

As several separate groups on Capitol Hill meet almost daily to negotiate, they say they have made almost no progress, even on agreeing on the parameters of what an immigration deal could include. Rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats alike say Trump’s insistence, reiterated in the primetime speech and endorsed by GOP leadership, on deep cuts to legal immigration will alienate potential Democratic allies and put the prospects for a narrow deal on DACA in jeopardy.

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On Tuesday, several Republican congressional leaders touted to reporters that Trump’s immigration proposal had been endorsed by the League of United Latin America Citizens (LULAC)—a Latino civil rights group that for years has advocated for a path to citizenship for young immigrants known as Dreamers.

While LULAC’s president Roger Rocha did in fact write a letter to President Trump over the weekend thanking him for “taking the lead” on immigration reform and declaring that the White House framework was one “LULAC can support,” staff at the organization tell TPM that they were completely blindsided by Rocha’s action and were not consulted before the letter was sent.

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Congress failed repeatedly to repeal Obamacare (ACA) in 2017, but succeeded in repealing the individual mandate and, through the latest short-term spending bill, in delaying several of Obamacare’s taxes. In 2018, with the midterms looming and lawmakers skittish, Republicans will likely move away from attacking health care programs through legislation and instead go after them through administrative regulation or, more specifically, deregulation.

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As the deadline for a deal on immigration draws closer, a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers with the unfortunate name “the Number Twos” has been meeting almost daily to negotiate a solution that would protect young immigrants known as Dreamers.

But their first meeting since President Trump unveiled his immigration proposal, which includes billions of dollars to build more walls on the U.S.-Mexico border and deep cuts to several forms of legal immigration, yielded no tangible progress. Though rank-and-file House Republicans and conservative groups have blasted the White House plan as “amnesty” and a violation of Trump’s campaign promises, the GOP leaders attending the meeting of the seconds-in-command from each party in each chamber (hence, the “Number Twos”) had nothing but praise for the proposal.

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The Trump administration’s controversial immigration proposal—leaked to the press on Thursday—was officially unveiled Monday, and before the plan had even hit inboxes across D.C., the plan had come under attack from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers and both conservative groups that favor strict immigration controls and those that advocate for immigrants’ rights.

“Leaders on both sides of the aisle continue to tell me that we all agree on the problem. We all want to secure our borders. We all want to help immigrants brought to the U.S. as children,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a speech Monday at a Washington think tank. “The devil is in the details.”

The disagreements dividing Congress and the country, however, go beyond the details. Immigration hardliners argue that granting a decade-long path to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children is “amnesty,” while progressives say Trump’s call for ending most family-based immigration is “hateful” and a political non-starter.

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Negotiations in the Senate on an immigration package that would protect the group of young immigrants known as Dreamers has kicked into high gear, with dozens of Democratic and Republican lawmakers meeting almost daily to attempt to craft a plan before their self-imposed deadline of Feb. 8. But as the senators boast to reporters about their bipartisan bonhomie and progress toward a deal, a fear hangs over the negotiations: that conservatives in the House of Representatives and a mercurial President advised by immigration hardliners will shoot down whatever they manage to produce.

“We’re caught in this vortex where Trump won’t negotiate and Republicans won’t support anything that Trump won’t sign,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) told TPM.

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A small coalition of senators from both sides of the aisle attempting to hammer out an immigration deal in the next few weeks has ballooned into a working group of dozens, many of whom have little to no experience with immigration policy.

With the March 5 deadline for protecting DACA recipients from deportation looming, Senate staffers tell TPM the “unwieldy” group of nearly 40 is still talking “in broad strokes.” If they can’t put together a bill by Feb. 8—the deadline imposed as part of the deal to end the government shutdown—the proposal crafted by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), which has already been rejected by the White House, may be the “only game in town.”

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On a conference call with House Republicans on Thursday, to which NBC and The Daily Beast obtained access, White House policy chief Stephen Miller described the immigration proposal President Trump will send to Congress on Monday.

In return for supporting a decade-long pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, the White House will demand $25 billion for a border wall and other border security measures, the abolition of the diversity visa lottery, and an end to family-based immigration other than for spouses and children under 18.

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In a class action federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, 15 low-income Kentucky residents enrolled in Medicaid sued the Trump administration for giving the state’s Republican governor a green light to impose work requirements and other eligibility restrictions on the health program.

The plaintiffs, Kentucky Medicaid recipients with ages ranging from 20 to 62, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other advocacy groups, are accusing the administration of “threatening irreparable harm to the health and welfare of the poorest and most vulnerable in our country,” and demanding the court block the implementation of the new requirements.

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On Monday night, moments after the Senate voted overwhelmingly to end the government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) quietly put forward the nomination of former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. While his confirmation is likely to sail through the Senate on Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers and women’s health advocates are sounding the alarm about Azar’s statements on reproductive rights, religious rights, and the intersection of the two.

Amid the chaos of the shutdown, both the secretary’s confirmation and several other Trump administration actions related to women’s health have flown under the radar. With the Department’s move to draft rules protecting doctors who want to refuse to perform abortions, sterilizations, or assisted suicides, and the placement of hardline conservative activists in key health policy positions, some lawmakers worry the Department under Azar will “undermine years of progress” on reproductive rights.

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