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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Republicans have hinted that they intend to use their Obamacare repeal push to transform Medicaid into a block grant system, a long-held GOP policy dream that faces deep resistance from state officials and could make the already treacherous territory around repeal of the Affordable Care Act more complicated.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway earlier this month pointed to Medicaid block grants as one of the options the Trump administration was considering as part of its plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Lawmakers at last week's GOP congressional retreat in Philadelphia also raised an overhaul of the program as a possibility.

However, to do so, they would have to muddle through numerous tough policy questions and trade-offs that could pit GOP lawmakers against each other, if the past attempts to block grant Medicaid are any guide. Meanwhile, governors, including some Republicans, have expressed wariness of any Medicaid proposals that would shift its costs to their states.

Here are 5 points on the GOP push to block grant Medicaid.

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The office within the Department of Justice that typically advises the White House on legal actions, including executive orders, was unable to confirm that it had reviewed the executive orders issued by President Trump in recent days.

According to an NPR report, published Friday, the Department of Justice said "no comment" when asked whether its Office of Legal Counsel had reviewed the recent orders. As the report noted, the office's own website says that executive orders issued by the president "are reviewed by the Office of Legal Counsel for form and legality, as are various other matters that require the President's formal approval."

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PHILADELPHIA -- President Donald Trump, in remarks to a GOP retreat in Philadelphia Thursday, hinted at his administration's plans for a major investigation into voter fraud.

"We also need to keep the ballot box safe from illegal voting," Trump said. "Believe me, you take look at what is registering, folks -- they like to say,
Oh, Trump Trump Trump... take a look at what is registering.'"

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PHILADELPHIA -- Republican Congressional leaders signaled Thursday they were not interested in re-opening the debate on torture, after a leaked draft of a Trump administration executive order suggested the White House was seeking to bring back so-called CIA "black sites" and launch a review of currently-banned torture tactics.

"Well, I think the director of the CIA has made it clear, he’s going to follow the law," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters at the congressional GOP retreat in Philadelphia. "And I believe virtually all my members are comfortable with the state of the law on that issue.”

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PHILADELPHIA – Infrastructure wasn't originally part of congressional Republicans' plans for the first 200 days, but it was added out of deference to President Donald Trump, a Republican House member told reporters.

"The President asked that the infrastructure piece be included in the 200-day plan. And the impression that I got is that the Speaker [Paul Ryan] recognizes the importance of that to the President and that is now part of the 200-day plan," Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) told reporters at the GOP retreat in Philadelphia Wednesday.

"Initially without the President’s input, that would not have been the case, but our President has been pretty clear on setting his priorities,” he said.

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PHILADELPHIA – Interim House Budget Chair Diane Black (R-TN), who will play a key role in the process of repealing Obamacare, said that Republicans plan to begin marking up the legislation in committees within the next two weeks and that they're aiming to have a repeal bill done in around a month.

“We expect that probably toward the latter part of February or the first part of March, that we should be ready to go with the final reconciliation,” Black said, referring to the process that GOP lawmakers can use to avoid a Democratic filibuster.

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PHILADELPHIA – The third-ranking member of the Senate GOP leader team said Wednesday that he did not see "evidence" of millions of fraudulent votes in November's election, as President Trump has falsely claimed, but would cooperate in any investigation ordered into the matter.

"I haven't seen evidence to that effect," Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told reporters at the congressional GOP retreat in Philadelphia, when asked about Trump's baseless allegations. "I believe that our election system is the cornerstone of our democracy. There are always reported, in most elections, irregularities. The scale of those, you know, I'm not what the answer of that is."

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Republicans' plans for repealing the Affordable Care Act quickly became a focus in the confirmation hearing for Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Rep. Tom Price (R-GA). Price waffled when he was questioned on Trump's comments earlier this month suggesting that the President was working on a replacement plan with the nominee.

"Is that true?" Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) asked.

"It's true that he said that, yes," Price said. Brown followed up by asking if Trump was lying when he told the public he was working with Price.

"I have had conversations with the president about healthcare, yes," Price said.

In his opening remarks, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, used Trump's own words to attack Price's proposals to replace the Affordable Care Act.

"The Price plan takes America back to the dark days when health care worked only for the health and the wealthy," Wyden said, according to his prepared opening remarks. "Congressman Price's other proposals don’t offer much hope that the damage will be undone. By the Trump rubric of 'insurance for everybody,' 'great health care … much less expensive and much better,' the congressman’s plans get a failing grade."

The Finance Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT), in his own opening remarks, offered a pre-buttal to this line of attack:

“I’ll simply say that virtually all the attempts I’ve witnessed to characterize Dr. Price's views as being ‘outside of the mainstream’ have been absurd, unless of course, the only ideas that are in the ‘mainstream’ are those that endorse the status quo on health care and our entitlement programs,” Hatch said, according to his prepared remarks.

Watch a livestream of the hearing below and this page will be updated with the latest from Price’s testimony:

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The Supreme Court said Monday it would not take up an appeal of a blockbuster case that struck down parts of Texas' voter ID law – at least at this stage of the proceedings. Chief Justice John Roberts said the court would rather wait for a separate phase of the case to conclude before considering whether to take it up.

A lower court is in the process of reconsidering the question of whether the voter ID law was passed with discriminatory intent, which a federal judge is slated to do after an appeals court ruled it had an discriminatory effect.

"Petitioners may raise either or both issues again after entry of final judgment. The issues will be better suited for certiorari review at that time," Roberts said in a statement that accompanied the denial of Texas' petition.

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The first sign that President Donald Trump's Justice Department would be shifting its approach to voting rights – specifically towards voter ID laws – came in a motion it filed Friday in a blockbuster case in Texas. The motion asked for a 30-day delay in the proceedings, particularly a hearing scheduled for next week, "to brief the new leadership of the Department on this case and the issues to be addressed at that hearing before making any representations to the Court."

Throughout his confirmation hearings last week, Trump's nominee for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Session's (R-AL) defended voter ID laws, which had been the target of a number high profile DOJ-supported lawsuits under then-President Obama's administration.

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