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

Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), one of the GOPers who announced her opposition to the Senate Obamacare repeal bill yesterday after leadership delayed a vote on it, indicated Wednesday that a provision targeting opioid addiction in her state would not be enough to secure her support for the legislation.

During an interview on CNN’s “New Day,” co-host Chris Cuomo asked Capito if her concerns with the bill would be addressed if leaders offered her a carveout for opioid treatment in her state.

“No, they don’t. Because what happens if you just flood the money into treatment centers —and we welcome that, we’re asking for $45 billion for more opioid treatment —but you have to have the coverage, Chris, that goes along with it,” she replied. “You’re not going to access the treatment without the coverage, whether it’s through the exchanges or whether it’s Medicaid. You have to be able to have that coverage so that you can access the treatment that the extra dollars are going to be put in to provide. To me, it goes hand-in-hand.”

Earlier, Capito told Cuomo that Medicaid expansion helped those in her state struggling with opioid addiction. She did indicate that she could support a rollback of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, but said that the transition away from Medicaid in the Senate bill was too abrupt.

“I can see in my Medicaid expansion population the availability of treatment and how well it’s working, both how they’re accessing preventative care and their primary care doctors. I want to preserve that,” she said. “So I think Medicaid does preserve that. I’m not in opposition to making sure that those folks, if they move from Medicaid expansion into the market, that they have extremely good coverage like they do at Medicaid at an affordable price. That, I think, is the crux of what we have to make. If there is a transition it has to be seamless.”

The senator said that she promised West Virginia Medicaid recipients that she would not “drop you off a cliff.”

“And in my view the senate bill was too much of a cliff. So we’re working to try to close that gap to make sure that I’m satisfied,” she said.

Capito noted that President Donald Trump told Republican senators at a Tuesday afternoon meeting at the White House that the bill should include more funding.

“One of the main things he said was, ‘Put more money in it. Make it effective to the lower income, make it so it really works.’ And that jives with what I believe is one way to make this bill much more effective,” she told Cuomo.

Capito acknowledged the deep divides in her party and said that GOP senators “haven’t reached that critical point of compromise” yet.

“We’re edging towards a compromise. I don’t think we’re there yet,” she said.

She indicated that Republicans were looking to reach a new deal by Friday and said that if a deal isn’t reached by then, it might be time to work on a bipartisan solution.

“If for some reason it fails, I think we then— the floodgates would probably open to reach a bipartisan compromise. Really, Friday will be the most interesting day I think to see. I thought yesterday or today would be. Friday will be the most interesting day to see if we can reach that compromise,” she said on CNN.

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America First Policies, a super PAC run by former Trump campaign aides, on Tuesday pulled ads targeting Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) on health care after other GOP senators complained to the White House that the ads could hurt both their attempt to pass an Obamacare repeal bill and Heller’s re-election chances.

“America First Policies is pleased to learn that Senator Dean Heller has decided to come back to the table to negotiate with his colleagues on the Senate bill,” the group said in statement, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We have pulled the ads we released earlier today in Nevada, and we remain hopeful that Senator Heller and his colleagues can agree on what the American people already know: that repealing and replacing Obamacare must happen for America to move forward and be great again.”

The television and radio ads that began airing Tuesday called out Heller for opposing the latest draft of the Senate’s bill to repeal and replace Obamacare and urged the senator to support the legislation.

The ads were pulled after Republican senators reportedly scolded the White House for the attack on one of their own.

Heller himself brought up the ads at Senate Republicans’ Tuesday afternoon meeting at the White House, a spokesman for Heller told Politico. Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, also told reporters that the ads came up at the meeting, per Politico.

Before Heller brought up the ads on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had called White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to complain about the ads, according to the New York Times. McConnell told Preibus that the ads could hurt Heller’s re-election chances, as well as the Obamacare repeal effort’s chances, per the report.

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Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Wednesday morning clarified that he never outright opposed the Senate bill to repeal Obamacare and gave a more positive assessment of the legislation than he has offered previously.

“I never said I was ‘no’ on this bill. I was very hard ‘no’ in terms of taking a vote this week,” Johnson said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “That was absurd because we didn’t have the information, and now we’re starting to get some information.”

Johnson said on Monday night that he would vote to block the Senate bill from proceeding if leaders pushed for a vote this week. He also penned an op-ed in the New York Times on Monday arguing that the Senate bill does not adequately address the issues he sees with Obamacare. Senate GOP leaders have since delayed a vote on the bill until July.

During his Wednesday morning interview on “Morning Joe,” Johnson dismissed part of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the Senate bill. The CBO projected that 7 million people in the individual market would lose their health insurance by 2026 if the Senate’s bill goes into effect. The CBO based its projections on coverage in March 2016, which Johnson argued gives a faulty sense of the number of people who will lose insurance. Johnson claimed that if the CBO had used a more recent baseline from January 2017, it would show no difference in the number of people insured in the individual market.

Several Republicans in Congress have dismissed projections from the CBO about their health care bills this year as they’ve tried to defend their legislation, sometimes complaining about the CBO’s methodology.

Asked if he was moving toward support for the bill, Johnson told “Morning Joe” that Republicans may need to pass an imperfect bill and fix it later.

“We have to do something. Anything we pass is not going to be perfect so maybe what we’re going to have to do is — the Democrats passed theirs on a partisan basis — maybe we’ve got to do this and hopefully we can take their offer and work together to actually fix our health care system,” he said.

Asked if Republicans should just skip ahead to work with Democrats, Johnson said that he disagreed with Republican leadership’s push to pass a bill without Democratic support.

“First of all I did not agree with leadership when they immediately said we’re going to do this on a purely partisan basis. We should have focused on the damage done by Obamacare, the skyrocketing premiums,” Johnson said, adding later that “it’s not like Democrats are stepping up to the plate.”

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President Donald Trump fired an early-morning tweetstorm at the New York Times on Wednesday after the paper published a report explaining Trump’s lack of involvement in the Senate’s push to pass Obamacare repeal legislation.

The New York Times reported Wednesday evening that Trump had not been heavily engaged in the Senate’s bill to replace Obamacare until Tuesday afternoon when he met with Republican senators at the White House. Senate Republican leaders pushed to work with Vice President Mike Pence over Trump, the Times reported.

The New York Times report also detailed an exchange Trump had with a senator at the Tuesday afternoon meeting. Trump seemed confused about the provisions of the Senate bill when a moderate senator complained about the legislation’s elimination of a tax on the wealthy, an aide who saw a readout of the meeting told the New York Times. Trump responded by saying that he plans to push for tax reform after health care, the aide told the Times.

After Trump accused the New York Times of publishing stories about him without checking the facts of the story with White House staff, New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush, one of the story’s authors, defended his reporting on Twitter.


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Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, will testify on July 24 in a closed hearing with the House Intelligence Committee as part of the panel’s Russia investigation, Politico and CNN reported Tuesday night.

Stone’s testimony will follow a closed session the House Intelligence Committee had with Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta on Tuesday.

“I am confident that Podesta most likely repeated his lie that I knew in advance about the hacking of his email, and am anxious to rebut this falsehood,” Stone said in a statement to CNN. “I am still unhappy that my testimony will not be in public, but believe it is more important to resolve the question of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — which I believe was nonexistent.”

Robert Buschel, Stone’s attorney, told Politico that Stone asked for a public hearing but that the committee said they are “done with public” hearings.

“We tried really hard,” Buschel told Politico.

Stone communicated with Guccifer 2.o, a hacker who released DNC emails and who U.S. officials believe is associated with the Russian government, during the 2016 campaign. However, Stone has said that the interaction was “benign” and has insisted that he did not communicate with Russian officials during the campaign.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that the Senate would not vote on a GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, delaying the process until after Congress’ July 4 recess so Senate Republicans can discuss “the differences that we have” on health care.

McConnell repeatedly stressed that it’s a complicated issue in an apparent attempt to frame it as no surprise that the Senate needed more time—even though GOP leadership insisted earlier this week that they would push ahead with a vote before July 4, which would have given the public and most Senate Republicans just a week to grapple with a draft of the legislation and mere days to digest a Congressional Budget Office report on it.

“We’re continuing to talk about it. It’s a very complicated subject,” he told reporters. “We’re still optimistic we’re going to get there.”

McConnell emphasized that it’s a “big, complicated subject,” noting that Democrats spent a great deal of time trying to reach consensus on Obamacare in 2009.

“They’re hard to pull together and hard to pass,” he said of bills addressing complex issues like health care.

McConnell said that Senate Republicans “have a number of different discussions going on” but did not detail what changes might be made to the legislation before leadership deems it ready for a vote.

The majority leader confirmed that the Republican caucus would head to the White House later Tuesday afternoon to meet with President Donald Trump. McConnell said that Trump has been involved in the process in the last week, and said that Trump’s involvement would be especially helpful as Republicans embark on a final push to secure enough votes for the bill’s passage.

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After Senate Republican leaders abruptly decided Tuesday to delay a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare until after the July 4 recess, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said that she has a hard time seeing what tweaks to the legislation would prompt her to back the bill.

“I will say that I have so many fundamental problems with the bill that have been confirmed by the CBO report that it’s difficult for me to see how any tinkering is going to satisfy my fundamental and deep concerns about the impact of the bill,” Collins told reporters.

Collins said that she would still attend a meeting of the Senate Republican caucus with President Donald Trump at the White House later Tuesday afternoon, despite her doubts that GOP leaders could persuade her to back the bill.

The senator announced Monday night that she could not support the bill as written. Opposition to the bill from Collins and several other senators cast doubt on the notion that Republicans had enough support to pass the bill this week.

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) on Tuesday indicated that side deals offered to skeptics of the Senate’s Obamacare repeal bill from Republican leaders would not be enough to make up for the legislation’s funding cuts to the health care system, particularly to the Medicaid program.

During a joint press conference with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in Washington, D.C., Kasich said that he told Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) that a “few billion” dollars for opioid addiction treatment in their state would be like “spitting in the ocean,” given the bill’s deep cuts to Medicaid.

The governor stressed that he sees the legislation’s main issue as a lack of resources.

“I think the bill is inadequate,” Kasich said at the National Press Club.

He said that while the Senate bill does have what he views as some good components, none of those improvements would help without sufficient funding. He said he was concerned about millions losing their health care coverage as a result of the bill, as well as the deep cuts to Medicaid and reduced funding for health insurance subsidies in the legislation.

“The problem is the resources have been significantly cut,” he said, noting that the Senate bill eliminates taxes imposed by Obamacare that provided more revenue for the health care system.

Kasich used the press conference to call on Democrats in the Senate to work with Republicans on a bill to fix issues with Obamacare.

“Today I would call on Democrat senators to hold a press conference and to state that they are willing to sit and work and constructively engage with Republicans in coming up with a sustainable solution,” he said. “If the Democrats don’t want to participate that way, shame on them, and they’re playing party politics over what’s good for our nation.”

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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, on Monday said that he can do whatever he pleases as chair of the panel, even though he has stepped aside from the Russia probe for the time being.

“I can do whatever I want, I’m the chairman of the committee,” Nunes told CNN. “I voluntarily, temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation.”

He told CNN that he is “fully read-in” on the committee’s Russia probe.

“When I temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation, that’s exactly what it means: It doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be involved, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be fully read in,” he said.

Though he’s stayed informed on the investigation, Nunes said that he has not attended hearings and briefings related to the probe. But he said that he could decide to take over the reins in the investigation at any time.

“Every decision I make is my own,” he told CNN. “I can go back right after this conversation and take the investigation over. Although I think everybody’s learning there’s not really much there because there’s no collusion — which is what I had said several months ago, I hadn’t seen any evidence.”

He also stressed that he never said he was recusing himself from the committee’s probe. Nunes announced his decision to temporarily step aside from the Russia investigation in April, after the House Ethics Committee said it was looking into complaints against him. Several groups charged that Nunes disclosed classified information when he publicized his claims that the Obama administration requested the unmasking of Trump team members whose names were incidentally collected in intelligence reports.

“I temporarily stepped aside, just to make sure there was no issue at all, just to give everybody assurance there was no ethical issues at all,” he told CNN. “That is not withdrawing, that is not recusing myself from an investigation.”

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Vice President Mike Pence has invited several conservative Republican senators to dinner Tuesday night as Republican leaders push for a vote in the Senate this week on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, Politico reported Monday evening.

Pence has invited conservative senators like Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who is skeptical of the Senate bill, as well as Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), according to Politico.

The dinner was not listed on Pence’s public schedule released Monday night. He will attend a weekly lunch with the Senate Republican caucus on Tuesday and will hold meetings with several lawmakers in the afternoon, per the schedule released by the White House.

Several Republican senators have said that they will not support legislation as written this week, endangering the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Republican leaders are now scrambling to come up with changes and deals that could earn the support of the 50 senators needed to pass the bill. Senate Republicans can only afford two defections from their 52-member caucus.


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