Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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Democrats are resisting claims that a Supreme Court nominee's private comments criticizing President Trump prove that he will act as a check on the administration, with their latest shot against the nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, using the White House press secretary's own words against the judge.

"Sean Spicer just made it crystal clear that Judge Gorsuch has refused to condemn President Trump’s attacks on the judiciary," Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, said in a statement. "That makes an already weak response even weaker, and is further proof that the judge has not demonstrated the kind of independence necessary to be a check on this administration.”

The latest volley between Democrats, the White House and Gorsuch's supporters further muddy the already murky question of whether Gorsuch's private expressions of dismay over Trump's tweets bashing a federal judge will change the political dynamics surrounding his confirmation.

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President Trump will "personally" pay the tab for the weekend he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have planned at Trump's Palm Beach resort, Mar-A-Lago, a senior administration official told Politico.

“The president is personally paying for the Mar-a-Lago portions of the trip,” the official said. Trump and Abe will travel to Florida after meetings at the White House Friday. An administration official told reporters earlier that their together weekend will involve “a fair bit of golf” and “relaxing,” according Politico.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at the press briefing Thursday that the trip had been offered to Abe as a "gift."

"The president has offered as a gift to the Prime Minister, he will be his guest at Mar-A-Lago," Spicer said, adding that the rest of the Japanese delegation will not be staying at the resort.

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Congressional Republicans are inching closer to cementing an approach to dismantling the Affordable Care Act that reportedly will include some replacement measures in the repeal legislation. The effort marks a victory for the GOP lawmakers who lobbied against repealing the law without a replacement, but it’s by no means the end of the intra-party battles. The ability of the replacement measures to work will depend on how much money GOP lawmakers are willing spend on them, health care policy experts tell TPM, and that there will almost certainly be more fights to come.

“The tension between conservatives who want to spend less and moderates who are willing to maintain federal spending on health care to keep people covered will become very clear, sooner rather than later,” Larry Levitt, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told TPM. “The previous repeal-and-delay approach kind of deferred the big fights over money, but this approach would bring those fights on almost immediately.”

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A procedural scuffle between Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) brought back to the forefront accusations that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), President Trump’s attorney general nominee, sought to prosecute voter outreach efforts in black counties in Alabama earlier in his career.

The episode during Sessions' time as a U.S. attorney was among the concerns that sunk Sessions’ nominations to a federal judgeship in the mid-1980s, and it was brought up again by Democrats during Sessions’ attorney general confirmation process. Tuesday evening, Warren attempted to read from the Senate floor a letter from the late Coretta Scott King, a civil rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., in which she accused Sessions of using “the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.”

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Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) is working on his own Obamacare replacement plan that the House Freedom Caucus will be considering in the days to come, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the chair of the conservative group, told reporters Tuesday.

Sanford's plan will be similar to Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) Affordable Care Act alternative, according Meadows, and the House Freedom Caucus will at some point, likely next week, weigh taking a position on Sanford's plan and the other proposals circulating.

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Judging by the first round of legislation and reported regulations being mulled by Republicans, GOP lawmakers intend to focus on meeting requests by insurers to keep the individual market stable as they move forward with repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on health held hearings on four pieces of legislation, three of which involving tweaks to Obamacare insurers have long recommended. (The fourth bill was a GOP promise to protect the coverage of those with pre-existing conditions, though the mechanism to do so was unclear). Meanwhile, the Health and Human Services Department under President Trump is reportedly weighing regulatory changes to Obamacare that would achieve similar goals.

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Lauren Fox contributed reporting.

With the Affordable Care Act squarely in their sights, conservative lawmakers and activists are beginning to wonder why the GOP leadership in Congress isn't pulling the trigger.

It’s been over a month since the new GOP-controlled Congress came to Washington, and three months since President Trump’s surprise victory secured for Republicans an opportunity to do away with President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Yet lawmakers, at least in their public statements, have not moved far in their plan to do so, beyond a vote on a procedural first step.

The lack of action -- and even the lack of clarity about what eventual action will look like -- is causing frustration among the GOP’s right flank and its outside organizations.

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Conservative lawyer John Yoo, a Justice Department official under President George W. Bush who authored the so-called "torture memos," wrote in a New York Times op-ed Monday that he had "grave concerns" about President Trump's use of executive power.

"While my robust vision of the presidency supports some of Mr. Trump’s early executive acts — presidents have the power to terminate international agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for example — others are more dubious," Yoo said.

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A snapshot of Healthcare.gov enrollment numbers released Friday reveal that sign-ups in the final days of enrollment are down in 2017, when compared to the similar period of 2016.

Between January 15 and 31, less than 400,000 people signed up for plans on the healthcare.gov website used by 39 states, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said. Nearly 700,000 people signed up in the last two weeks of enrollment last year, according to the Washington Examiner.

Altogether, 9.2 million people signed up for healthcare.gov individual insurance plans in the most recent open enrollment period, a decrease of 400,000, according to Bloomberg.

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The Justice Department office that typically advises the White House on legal actions, including executive orders, approved the controversial immigration executive order President Trump signed last week, BuzzFeed reported.

The Office of Legal Counsel memo, which BuzzFeed posted in full, gave a summary of the proposed executive order before concluding that order was approved "with respect to form and legality." It was signed by Curtis Gannon, an acting assistant attorney general in charge of the OLC.

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