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Caitlin MacNeal

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Articles by Caitlin

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, will recuse himself for one year from lawsuits against the agency that he was involved in as the Oklahoma state attorney general or as part of the conservative Rule of Law Defense Fund.

Pruitt signed the recusal document on Thursday, and the memo was obtained by E&E News on Friday.

The list of cases from which Pruitt will recuse himself include a lawsuit over President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan and cases regarding the Clean Water Rule. He indicated that he will not recuse himself from cases in which Oklahoma only filed an amicus brief.

During his confirmation hearing in the Senate, Pruitt would not say definitively whether he would recuse himself from cases he had been involved in while serving as Oklahoma’s attorney general. At the time, he would only say that he would follow guidance from the EPA’s ethics office.

Though Pruitt will recuse himself from a long list of cases at the EPA, President Donald Trump has signaled he will roll back many Obama-era environmental regulations. Pruitt said that he would not step back from the rule-making process on the matters he listed in the memo.

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said during a Friday town hall in Idaho that “nobody dies” from losing their health insurance while defending the House Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Idaho Statesman reported.

During a town hall in Lewiston, Idaho, an attendee suggested to the congressman that making cuts to Medicaid could lead to people dying.

“That line is so indefensible,” Labrador replied. “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

His response was met with boos from the audience.

Watch a clip of the exchange:

President Donald Trump on Friday evening complained about the media coverage of the House’s vote to pass legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare, using one of his favorite terms, “fake news.”

House Republicans on Thursday passed the American Health Care Act by a razor-thin, sending the bill to the Senate. However, the Senate plans to write its own bill.

Senior officials on President Donald Trump’s transition team warned former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn about contacting the Russian ambassador to the U.S. ahead of Flynn’s December call with Sergey Kislyak, the Washington Post reported Friday evening, citing unnamed current and former U.S. officials.

Members of the Trump transition team told Flynn that Kislyak’s communications were likely being monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies, according to the Washington Post. Marshall Billingslea, a former George W. Bush official on Trump’s transition team asked the Obama administration for a CIA profile of Kislyak, but it’s not clear Flynn read the document, per the Post.

The Associated Press also reported Friday night that a member of the Trump transition team requested a profile of Kislyak from the Obama administration.

Flynn resigned from the Trump administration in February following revelations that he spoke with Kislyak about sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration.

Read the Washington Post report here.

Employees at the Food and Drug Administration were told this week that the Trump administration had directed the agency to show Fox News rather than CNN on televisions at its White Oak, Maryland, campus, according to an internal email obtained by BuzzFeed News.

However, the FDA is denying that the administration sent any such directive.

“There was no directive or memorandum from the Administration that went out to employees about broadcast news channels displaying on monitors in common areas throughout the FDA’s White Oak campus,” a spokesperson for the FDA told TPM in an email.

The internal email was widely circulated on Twitter by Paul Thacker on Friday, but appears to have been sent out on Wednesday:

“Please excuse me for sending this out to your entire group via your listserv, but I was alerted by a member in your group and I wanted to let everyone know that the reason for the change from CNN to FOX,” the email obtained by BuzzFeed and addressed to researchers with the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) read. “The reason for the change is that a decision from the current administration administrative officials has requested that all monitors, under our control, on the White Oak Campus, display FOX news.”

Both BuzzFeed News and the Washington Post reported that the televisions at CBER were displaying Fox News:

An anonymous FDA official told the Wall Street Journal that after the email began circulating on Friday, some of the televisions at the White Oak campus switched back to displaying CNN, while others remained tuned into Fox News.

“It obviously bothered some people,” the official told the Wall Street Journal. “I’d actually rather go with the Weather Channel.”

This post has been updated.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) on Friday morning said that the Senate’s bill to repeal and replace Obamacare must “pass the Jimmy Kimmel test” and ensure that a sick child gets all the care he or she needs.

During an interview on CNN, host John Berman asked Cassidy if he would support a bill that would allow insurance companies to cap payments to customers.

“As you present that, I ask does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel test?” Cassidy replied. “Would the child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life? I want it to pass the Jimmy Kimmel test. So the simple answer, I want to make sure folks get the care they need.”

Cassidy was referencing ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel’s Monday night appeal for affordable health care for all Americans. He got emotional as he shared that his newborn son had a heart condition that required surgery, and noted that without protections, his son could struggle to get health insurance down the line.

“You know, before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you would never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition; you were born with a pre-existing condition,” Kimmel said.

During his interview on CNN, Cassidy emphasized that the Senate would work on its own repeal bill separate from the legislation passed by the House GOP and touted the plan he’d already developed with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

“We take care of people with pre-existing conditions. We do it by expanding the risk pool so that those who are sicker, if you will, are in a pool of those who are younger and healthier. It works,” he said. “We have a plan on how to address that. I personally will be working to implement that plan.”

 

Cook Political Report on Friday morning changed its ratings for 20 House seats, predicting that Democrats’ odds of winning those districts has increased now that House Republicans passed a bill to repeal Obamacare.

“Although it’s the first of potentially many explosive votes, House Republicans’ willingness to spend political capital on a proposal that garnered the support of just 17 percent of the public in a March Quinnipiac poll is consistent with past scenarios that have generated a midterm wave,” Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman wrote in a post explaining the ratings changes. “Not only did dozens of Republicans in marginal districts just hitch their names to an unpopular piece of legislation, Democrats just received another valuable candidate recruitment tool.”

He wrote that for some Republicans, backing the American Health Care Act is an “unequivocal political risk.”

Cook Political Report moved three districts from leaning Republican to toss-ups, 11 districts from likely Republican to leaning Republican and six districts from solid Republican to leaning Republican.

 

 

After admitting to CNN that he did not read the House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) told the Buffalo News that he was unaware the bill would nix funding for a health care program in New York.

When a reporter for the Buffalo News told Collins that the American Health Care Act would eliminate funding for an optional program adopted only by New York and Minnesota called the Essential Plan, Collins replied, “Explain that to me.”

Asked again if he was aware of that funding cut, Collins told the Buffalo News, “No. But it doesn’t surprise me for you to tell me that there were two states in the nation that were taking advantage of some other waiver program and New York was one of the two states.”

The AHCA would nix the Essential Plan option, which provides New York with $3 billion annually for a program that offers benefits for low-income residents who do not qualify for Medicaid.

Collins’ comments on the Essential Plan came after he admitted to CNN that he had not read the bill.

“I will fully admit, Wolf, I did not but I can also assure you my staff did,” Collins told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer when asked if he read the full bill. “We have to rely on our staff.”

Hillary Clinton is working to launch a political group focused on pushing back against President Donald Trump’s agenda, Politico reported Thursday, citing “multiple people close to” Clinton.

The group, which will likely be called Onward Together, could launch this week, according to Politico. Clinton has spent the past two weeks talking with potential donors and efforts to fund, as well as potential members of the group’s board, per Politico. The organization will not focus on its own initiatives and will instead funnel money to other groups, according to Politico.

Axios also reported on Wednesday that Clinton is looking to launch a PAC to help fund groups and candidates in 2018.

 

During a meeting Thursday night with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, President Donald Trump praised Australia’s universal health care system.

He made the comments while insisting that Republicans are “united” in their push to repeal Obamacare and praising the legislation passed by the House on Thursday.

“It’s a very good bill right now. The premiums are going to come down, very substantially. The deductibles are going to come down. It’s going to be fantastic health care. Right now Obamacare is failing. We have a failing health care,” Trump said. “I shouldn’t say this to our great gentleman and my friend from Australia, because you have better health care than we do.”

Australia has a universal, government-funded health care system called Medicare. Australians are able to go to the hospital and see doctors free of charge under the system, but citizens there must purchase private insurance for some medical services. The system is partially funded by taxes, including an additional tax on wealthy Australians who do not have private health insurance.

The legislation passed by House Republicans on Thursday, meanwhile, makes major cuts to Medicaid and an analysis of the original bill by the Congressional Budget Office in March projected that the bill would cost 24 million people their health insurance within ten years.

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