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Esme Cribb

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Esme

President Donald Trump on Wednesday predicted a “great, great surprise” with regard to the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“Just to do a little official business, health care is working along very well,” Trump said during a meet and greet with the Chicago Cubs in the White House. “We could have a big surprise with a great health care package. So now they’re happy,” he added in an aside to the team, gesturing at the reporters.

“What do you mean by big surprise, sir?” one reporter called.

“I said you’re going to have a great, great surprise. It’s going to be great,” Trump said.

He did not offer any further details, and joked about taking his meeting with the team behind closed doors.

“Does anybody want to see the Oval Office? We’ll leave them behind,” Trump said, waving at the reporters gathered for the photo opportunity.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday announced that the Senate will not vote on its health care proposal until after the July 4 recess, instead of by the end of the week, as McConnell reportedly wanted.

Fox News on Wednesday announced that House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) will join the network as a contributor after resigning from Congress at the end of the month.

“In this role he will offer political analysis across FNC and FOX Business Network’s (FBN) daytime and primetime programming,” Fox News said in a release.

Chaffetz will begin at Fox on July 1, a day after stepping down from his job in Congress.

In April, Chaffetz announced that he would not seek another term in Congress, and later announced his plans to resign before the end of his term.

Attendees at a business conference in Berlin laughed and applauded on Tuesday when organizers cut off U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’ remarks.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Ross spoke onscreen for about 20 minutes at an event hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party before organizers cut off his video feed.

“That was the U.S. secretary of commerce, who had promised us a 10-minute statement,” Werner M. Bahlsen, head of the party’s economic council, told the audience, as quoted by Bloomberg. “As you saw, he spoke a bit slowly, so it took a bit longer. Now we look forward to the chancellor’s speech.”

Merkel then took the stage for her remarks.

Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) on Tuesday bemoaned House Republicans’ apparent inability to bring a budget resolution to a vote on the chamber floor amid internal differences and higher-profile policy goals.

“We just simply don’t know how to govern,” Womack, a member of the House Budget Committee, told the Washington Post. “It’s almost like we’re serving in the minority right now.”

He said a budget resolution for 2018 “should have been put to bed a long time ago.”

The Republican Party is the majority and controlling party in both the House and the Senate.

According to the Washington Post, the House budget panel on Tuesday canceled a meeting scheduled for Thursday where members planned to prepare a budget for a floor vote.

According to the timetable laid out by the Congressional Budget Act, the House and Senate are supposed to pass a budget resolution by April 15.

A firm owned by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Tuesday filed documents disclosing money it received for lobbying in favor of a Ukrainian political party whose leader fled to Russia in 2014, according to the Washington Post.

The Washington Post reported that Manafort and former deputy Rick Gates, who also worked on President Donald Trump’s campaign, retroactively filed an 87-page document to the Department of Justice disclosing that their firm received $17.1 million between 2012 and 2014 to lobby for Ukraine’s Party of Regions.

Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni told the Washington Post that Manafort’s “primary focus was always directed at domestic Ukrainian political campaign work, and that is reflected in today’s filing.”

The Associated Press in August 2016 reported that Manafort’s firm “directly orchestrated” a campaign to sway public opinion in favor of Ukraine’s pro-Russia party. Manafort abruptly resigned shortly afterward.

Manafort is the second member of Trump’s inner circle to register as a foreign agent after being ousted amid unflattering media reports. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned in February amid reports on his meetings with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, registered as a foreign agent in March for his work on behalf of Turkey.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday said it will take Republicans “a little bit longer” to get their Obamacare repeal bill through the Senate, after the vote was delayed until after the July 4 recess.

McConnell told reporters that Republican senators had a productive meeting with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence Tuesday afternoon.

“We made good progress,” he told reporters. “I think the meeting was very helpful. The one thing I would say is that I think everybody around the table is interested in getting to yes, interested in getting an outcome.”

McConnell said “no action is just not an option” for Republicans.

Earlier on Tuesday, McConnell announced the Senate vote on the bill will be delayed so Senate Republicans can discuss their “differences.”

“I had hoped, as you know, that we could have gotten to the floor this week, but we’re not quite there,” he said. “But I think we’ve got a really good chance of getting there, it’ll just take us a little bit longer.”

A reporter on Tuesday pushed back on deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ complaint that the federal government is held to a different standard than the news media.

During the daily White House briefing, Sanders cited the resignation of three reporters from CNN after the network retracted a story about Trump’s associate Anthony Scaramucci.

“If we make the slightest mistake, the slightest word is off, it is just an absolute tirade from a lot of people in this room, but news outlets get to go on day after day and cite unnamed sources, use stories without sources,” Sanders said. “You mentioned the Scaramucci story where they had to have reporters resign.”

“Come on,” Sentinel editor Brian Karem interrupted. “You’re inflaming everybody right here, right now with those words. This administration has done that as well.”

He said news consumers can choose to read different coverage if they disagree with one outlet’s approach.

“Any one of us is replaceable, and any one of us, if we don’t get it right, the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us,” Karem said. “You have been elected to serve for four years at least. There’s no option other than that. We’re here to ask you questions. You’re here to provide the answers and what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country, who look at it and say, see, once again, the President’s right and everybody else out here is fake media. And everybody in this room is only trying to do their job.”

“I just — I disagree completely, first of all,” Sanders replied. “I think if anything has been inflamed, it’s the dishonesty that often takes place by the news media and I think it is outrageous for you to accuse me of inflaming a story when I was simply trying to respond to his question.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Tuesday said Democrats will keep fighting Senate Republicans’ proposal to repeal parts of Obamacare, after Republican leaders announced that a vote on the bill will be delayed until after the July 4 recess.

“We know the fight is not over, that is for sure,” Schumer said at a press conference after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the delay. “We’re not resting on any laurels, nor do we feel any sense yet of accomplishment.”

Schumer said Senate Republicans will continue trying to corral enough votes to pass the proposal.

“Over the next couple of weeks, we know that Leader McConnell will try to use a slush fund to buy off Republicans, cut back-room deals, to try and get this thing done,” he said.

Schumer cited the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that 22 million more people would lose coverage by 2026 than under current law.

“The truth is, as CBO made clear yesterday, the Republicans cannot excise the rotten core at the center of their health care bill,” he said. “Even Trump voters don’t like it. That is not going to change with any little tweak that wins over this senator or that.”

He called for Republican senators to “abandon the closed-door secret process” they used to draft the legislation.

“Go to regular order, have committee hearings, allow amendments and go back to the idea that you need 60 votes, a bipartisan majority, to pass a bill, and we can start over again and work together,” he said.

Schumer said Democrats will “watch” the bill and fight any future iterations “tooth and nail” if they resemble the current proposal.

“We’re going to fight the bill,” he said. “And we have a darn good chance of defeating it — a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Tuesday said he is meeting with President Donald Trump to discuss Senate Republicans’ bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Paul is a holdout on the proposal, which has seen defections from hardline and moderate conservatives.

Paul said that at the meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, he plans to give Trump suggestions he has previously “tried to tell Senate leaders with no result so far.”

A White House official confirmed to pool reporters that Paul and Trump are scheduled to meet and discuss the legislation.

Paul on Monday said Republican leadership had not reached out to negotiate for his support for the Senate bill, and said Trump would have to intercede on hardline conservatives’ behalf.

“The President is going to have to tell leadership they’re going to have to negotiate with some of us who don’t see this bill as being good for the country,” he said.

After the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office on Monday released its analysis of the proposal, which it estimated would push 22 million people off health care coverage by 2026, Paul described the bill in even harsher terms.

“It’s a terrible bill,” he said.

Paul said he would not vote for the legislation itself or on the procedural motion to proceed. Enough Republican defections on the latter could kill the bill before it moves to the Senate floor.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who is resigning from public service for a job in the private sector, on Monday said members of Congress should receive a monthly stipend to cover the cost of living in Washington, D.C.

“I really do believe Congress would be much better served if there was a housing allowance for members of Congress,” Chaffetz said in an interview with The Hill. “I think a $2,500 housing allowance would be appropriate and a real help to have at least a decent quality of life in Washington if you’re going to expect people to spend hundreds of nights a year here.”

Chaffetz said his base congressional salary of $174,000 a year is “handsome” but that he “flat-out cannot afford a mortgage in Utah, kids in college and a second place here in Washington, D.C.”

The Deseret News in 2008 estimated that Chaffetz, newly elected to Congress, had a net worth of up to $5.6 million. OpenSecrets.org, a campaign-finance watchdog, estimated Chaffetz’s net worth in 2012 at $788,507.

Chaffetz announced in April that he will not seek another term in Congress in part because he’s sick of sleeping in his office.

I just turned 50. I’m sleeping on a cot in my office,” he said. “I really, really like the work in Congress, I really do, but I love my family more. People may try to make it more than that, but it’s really that simple.”

In May, Chaffetz announced that he will resign from Congress on June 30, ahead of the end of his term.

The Hill estimated that a monthly housing stipend of $2,500 would add up to about $30,000 a year per member of Congress, or approximately $16 million a year for the entire Congress.

“There are dozens upon dozens of members living in their offices, and I don’t know how healthy that is long term,” Chaffetz told the Hill.

The calculus behind lawmakers’ decision to sleep in their offices is not necessarily so straightforward, however. Some members of Congress cite squatting in their workplaces as proof of their devotion to their home constituencies.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) in 2015 told the New York Times that he sleeps in his office because he does not consider Washington, D.C. his home.

“I live in Janesville,” Ryan said, referring to his domicile in Wisconsin. “I commute back and forth every week. I just work here. I don’t live here.”

“I don’t want to get too comfortable in this town,” Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) told the New York Times.

While there is no official tally of how many lawmakers sleep in their offices (or how many of them do so for the optics), most of the members of Congress who tout their lifestyles — as the New York Times, NPRRoll Call and CBS News have noted — appear to be Republicans.

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