Lauren Fox

Lauren Fox is a reporter at Talking Points Memo.

Articles by Lauren

One Republican senator says he's fed up with the Antiquities Act following President Barack Obama's designation last month of two more national monuments in Western states.

The century-old law gives presidents the the power to designate land as a national monument through executive action. Obama's use of the law has won him praise from environmental groups, but also has drawn the ire of Republicans in Western states who view the President's action through the prism of a land grab.

"You know I understand why Teddy Roosevelt had this in place and it seems to me that recently presidents have gone way beyond the original intent," Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) told TPM on Thursday. "At some point you you say 'enough' and I'm at that point right now."

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) promised Thursday that a replacement for the Affordable Care Act will be legislated this year, although he made no commitment about when the law would be implemented.

In response to a question about whether Ryan could commit that repealing and replacing Obamacare would be finished by the end of the 115th Congress, Ryan said the "legislating will occur this year."

"Our legislating on Obamacare, our repealing and replacing and transitioning, the legislating, will occur this year," Ryan said. "What date all of this gets phased in something we do not now know."

Ryan said Thursday that Republicans need to wait for the Trump administration to be fully confirmed. And he said members want to be careful to give insurance companies time to adjust to a new program. Republicans have previously floated the idea of a two- to four-year transition between Obamacare and Republicans' alternative – a strategy that has been nicknamed repeal and delay.

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In a closed-door meeting in the House basement Wednesday with the whip team, a Republican rank-and-file member rose to convey his deep fear that Republicans were making a big mistake by repealing the Affordable Care Act without any concrete plan to replace it with.

According to one source in the room, the member rose and got the room's attention.

"You lose all leverage once you repeal this thing. There will be people on the left who will never help you replace it and there will be people on the right who aren't going to help you either," the member said. "We will own this thing and there will be consequences."

The focus in the House at the moment has been on how to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The goal is to have a repeal bill on President-elect Trump's desk by the end of February. Repealing Obamacare, after all, is what Republicans have been campaigning on for the last seven years. But the problem is that repealing Obamacare now and replacing it later could come with a myriad of policy and political baggage.

The House isn't the only place where members are sounding the alarm. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), whose own state expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, said earlier this week that Republicans will be making a mistake if they repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it at the same time.

The concern is that by moving rapidly to repeal President Obama's signature accomplishment, Democrats may never work with Republicans on a replacement. That could leave Republicans with two options, either they could change Senate rules and jam through their replacement or they will never get one.

While Republicans say they want a two- to three-year transition to protect people who have benefited from Obamacare from losing their insurance, health care experts have warned that even with a transition, a repeal bill without a clear replacement could lead the insurance market to devolve into chaos.

It's why some rank-and-file Republicans have been clear that they'd feel more comfortable if leadership had a strong plan in place before they ripped up the ACA.

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On Monday night, in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill a handful of Republican members rose and told their stories about how the Office of Congressional Ethics had personally hurt them.

"Some really good people have been hurt," Rep. Peter King (R-NY) recounted later.

"One member talked about how ... it costs his staffer $30,000 and it cost him $60,000 and they did nothing wrong. They were found innocent, but at the end of the day, it cost," said Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), describing the meeting. "Many felt very passionately about it especially those who were found to have done nothing wrong."

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House Republicans are holding an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss a changes they made Monday to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, according to a Republican congressional aide.

The change – which was included in a comprehensive rules package– would change the way the OCE is governed and would largely nullify the independent body's power and put it under the control of the congressionally run House Ethics Committee.

The change was highly controversial, with 74 Republicans actually voting against it.

The rules change faced incredible backlash Monday night and early Tuesday with Republican President-elect Donald Trump even tweeting Tuesday that he thought Republicans had better things to do.

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