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

On Monday night, as the demise of the Senate’s legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare was sealed, President Donald Trump complained to a group of Senate Republicans about the way Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) aired his grievances about the bill, according to a Tuesday New York Times report.

Trump was annoyed that Paul repeatedly trashed the bill in public, rather than quietly opposing the legislation, the New York Times reported, citing a guest at the dinner Trump held with some Republican senators who backed the legislation.

The President’s frustration with Paul is interesting given that the two have spoken over the phone several times throughout the Obamacare repeal effort. Paul spoke with Trump in January as efforts were just getting underway, and chatted with him again in March about potential changes to the House bill.

The senator also said at the end of June that he spoke with Trump about repealing Obamacare and punting on a replacement as discussions on the Senate legislation stalled.

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday night attempted to delegitimize reports on a second, informal meeting he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit, declaring the reports “Fake News” and “sick.”

Several outlets reported on Tuesday evening that Trump had a previously undisclosed conversation with Putin during a dinner for leaders at the G20 summit. The reports did not describe the meeting as “secret” and noted that the conversation took place at a dinner with other world leaders. The reports merely noted that the White House had not previously disclosed that the conversation took place.

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The NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) on Tuesday filed a lawsuit along with the Ordinary People Society against the Trump administration’s bogus “election integrity” commission, alleging that the commission was formed in an attempt to discriminate against minorities.

“This commission has one purpose: to justify voter suppression. Numerous statements made by this President and his surrogates about the need for this commission – statements detailed in our complaint – support the conclusion that this commission was created to substantiate the claim that African American and Latino voters are engaged in widespread voter fraud,” Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel of the LDF said in a statement.

The LDF argues that the commission violates the Constitution because it was formed as a way to racially discriminate. The group also argues that the President does not have the authority to establish such a commission and that that power lies with the Election Assistance Commission.

The group said that it believes the commission had plans to use its request for state data on voters to compare voters rolls to lists to a Department of Homeland Security list of people who are not U.S. citizens. LDF noted that President Donald Trump has “made false allegations of widespread voter fraud in the United States, often using racially coded language linking voter fraud to predominately minority urban communities and to ‘illegals'” without any evidence.

The group also noted in its statement that some Americans have already started canceling their voter registration in order to protect their personal information, citing this as clear damage.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the ACLU have also filed lawsuits against the commission, but the LDF is the first to allege racial discrimination.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) new plan to push for a repeal of Obamacare without a replacement plan in place faced swift opposition on Tuesday, with several Republican governors coming out against the strategy.

Three Republican senators had already said that they would not support a motion to proceed on the new plan. A bipartisan group of governors, including five Republicans, then issued a statement warning against passing a bill that repealed Obamacare without a plan to replace it. They said that the Senate should pass health care reform on a bipartisan basis and take governors’ input into account in the process.

“Congress should work to make health insurance more affordable by controlling costs and stabilizing the market, and we are please to see a growing number of senators stand up for this approach,” the governors said in the statement. “The Senate should immediately reject efforts to ‘repeal’ the current system and replace sometime later. This could leave millions of Americans without coverage.”

“The best next step is for both parties to come together and do what we can all agree on: fix our unstable insurance markets,” they added. “Going forward, it is critically important that governors are brought to the table to provide input, and we stand ready to work with lawmakers in an open, bipartisan way to provide better insurance for all Americans.”

Among the Republican governors who signed onto the statement were Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who could have influence on the Republican senators representing their states. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) has not explicitly come out against the repeal-and-delay strategy, but he seemed skeptical of that plan on Tuesday. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) also said he was worried about how the repeal-and-delay plan could impact the health insurance market.

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President Donald Trump offered several excuses for the Senate GOP’s failure to move forward a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, including a weak attempt to blame Democrats for the legislation’s downfall, in a series of tweets throughout the morning on Tuesday.

Trump also vacillated on strategies for the Senate as it continues to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, offering no less than three different proposals for the chamber’s next approach between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

The Senate bill fizzled on Monday night with a total of four GOP senators openly opposing the bill. Trump suggested that those Republicans who didn’t back the bill are not “loyal” and also indicated he was disappointed by Democratic senators, who were never on board with Republicans’ plans to repeal the health care law.

He then suggested a new strategy for the Senate: let Obamacare fail before working on a replacement.

This came after a Monday night tweet in which Trump proposed repealing Obamacare now and working on a replacement later, perhaps with the help of Democrats.

Later on Tuesday morning, Trump blamed the Senate’s very small majority for the health care bill’s failure, again trying to pin Republicans’ issues on Democrats.

Trump went on to suggest that Senate Republicans nix the legislative filibuster that allows Democrats to force the Senate to pass bills with 60 votes, rather than a simple majority.

However, nuking the filibuster would not have enabled Senate Republicans to pass their bill. They were working within the reconciliation process for this reason, and weren’t able to lock down even the 50 votes from Republican senators necessary for that process.

Throughout the Obamcare repeal ordeal, Trump has gone back and forth on new strategies as the Senate has struggled to reach consensus on a bill.

The President suggested letting Obamacare “crash & burn” after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delayed a vote on the original Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare in late June. Just a few days later, Trump turned around and endorsed a repeal and delay plan in the event that the Senate bill failed.

The President was blindsided by the decision by Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas Monday night to come out against the bill, blocking it from moving forward, according to a report in Politico. He was at a dinner with a few Republican senators, where he was telling them that they would look like “dopes” if they could not pass the legislation, per Politico.

“If the Republicans have the House, Senate and the presidency and they can’t pass this health care bill they are going to look weak,” Trump said, according to an unnamed source who spoke with Politico. “How can we not do this after promising it for years?”

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After the Senate Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare again failed to gain enough support to move forward, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) pushed for the Senate to consider a plan he drafted with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

Graham and Cassidy announced their plan last week, which would keep some of the taxes imposed by Obamacare and send those funds to the states in the form of block grants. Their legislation also maintains Obamacare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnall (R-KY) has a different plan, however. Unable to move forward with the replacement bill, McConnell said late Monday night that he would push to bring the House replacement bill to the floor of the Senate and allow a vote on an amendment to repeal Obamcare with a two-year delay.

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After the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare faltered Monday night with two more senators coming out against the bill, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) urged the Senate GOP to hold hearings on health care and work with Democrats to replace the Affordable Care Act.

“One of the major problems with Obamacare was that it was written on a strict party-line basis and driven through Congress without a single Republican vote. As this law continues to crumble in Arizona and states across the country, we must not repeat the original mistakes that led to Obamacare’s failure,” he said in a statement. “The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation’s governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) does not appear to be taking the approach laid out by McCain. Late Monday night, he announced that he will push to bring the Hosue repeal bill to the floor and allow senators to vote on an amendment to repeal Obamacare with a two-year delay.

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After two more Republican senators on Monday night came out against the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, solidifying the legislation’s demise, President Donald Trump called for Congress to pass a clean repeal of Obamacare and come up with a replacement with Democrats later.

Trump also endorsed that strategy after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delayed consideration of the Senate bill at the end of June when it failed to earn enough support to proceed.

McConnell announced late Monday night that he will try to bring the House repeal bill to the floor and allow Senators to vote on an amendment repealing Obamacare with a two-year delay.

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While Senate Republican leaders work to whip enough votes for their Obamacare repeal bill, the White House and its allies have been meeting with potential primary challengers to one of the GOP caucus’ most vulnerable senators, Jeff Flake of Arizona, according to a Monday report in Politico.

Trump himself has spoken to Jeff DeWit, the Arizona state treasurer and former Trump campaign aide, who is considering a Senate bid, two sources told Politico. White House officials have also talked to former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who challenged Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in his primary last year and has already announced a primary challenge to Flake, and met with potential primary challenger and former Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham, according to the report.

David Bossie, a former Trump campaign aide who runs Citizens United, told Graham that conservatives were likely to back either him or DeWit in a primary with Flake, three unnamed sources told Politico.

Flake has aired criticism of Trump before, calling on him to drop out of the presidential race after the notorious “Access Hollywood” tape and questioning his decision to fire James Comey as FBI director.

Read Politico’s entire report here.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Sunday made a bold and questionable prediction about the Senate GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare: He argued that the legislation could actually provide health insurance to more individuals than the Affordable Care Act, a claim undermined by the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the bill.

Price made the comment while discussing how the Senate bill closes a gap that existed in certain states that chose not to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. In those states, there is a section of the population that does not qualify for traditional Medicaid, but makes too little to qualify for subsidies on the exchanges since Obamacare intended to cover it through Medicaid expansion. The Senate bill closes this gap, and Price used that provision to argue that more people would be covered under the new legislation.

“That also is one of the reasons we believe we’re gonna be able to cover more individuals on this bill than are currently covered. I know that’s counterintuitive to folks that have been reading other headlines, but the goal is to get every single American covered and have access to the kind of coverage that they want,” he said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

The CBO has yet to release its score of the revised Senate repeal bill, but its analysis of the initial version of the bill shows that 22 million fewer people would have health insurance by 2026. It’s not clear that the revisions to the Senate bill would improve matters much.

Price on Sunday tried to delegitimize that CBO score, calling it an “opinion” and arguing that the CBO does not take into account people who purchase catastrophic plans.

Host Maria Bartiromo said she thought it was an “important point” that many people who would go without coverage under the Senate plan would do so by choice.

“Oh, it is an important point. It’s also CBO’s opinion,” Price said in response, noting people could purchase catastrophic plans under the Senate bill, which only cover three primary care visits a year and have high out-of-pocket costs. He claimed that “a health savings account with a high deductible catastrophic plan” does not “count in CBO’s formula.”

“So CBO doesn’t even capture those individuals who say to the federal government, ‘I don’t want the plan that you think I need, I want the plan that I know I need for myself and my family,'” Price said. “So those numbers are so flawed in terms of what actually happens in the real world when people act for themselves in an appropriate way and get that kind of coverage that they want.”

Price’s comments about the CBO’s methodology appear to be misleading, however. In a December blog post, the CBO said that it counts “catastrophic plans as private insurance coverage because they typically provide major medical coverage and are permitted under the ACA in limited circumstances.”

Watch Price’s interview via Fox News:

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