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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The lesson Republicans have taken from watching their efforts to gut Medicaid face-plant is that their next act should be an attempt to gut an even more popular government health care program: Medicare.

On Tuesday morning, hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had pulled the plug on an Obamacare repeal bill that imposed a massive overhaul on Medicaid, the House Budget Committee unveiled a 10-year budget blueprint that would seek to transform and privatize Medicare.

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Not long after the defections of two more Senate Republicans made the GOP Obamacare replacement bill dead in the water, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell  (R-KY) announced Monday night he would let members vote for a “repeal only” amendment, if they are able to get the base health care legislation that was passed in the House onto the floor.

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Two more GOP senators announced Monday evening that they are opposed to the Senate Obamacare repeal bill, meaning that even when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) returns from a medical emergency that delayed plans for a vote this week, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will not have enough support to even advance the legislation to the floor.

Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) announced on Twitter their opposition to the motion to proceed, a procedural vote that would have opened the bill to debate. In a statement, Lee said he opposed the bill –the Better Care Reconciliation, Act–because it kept some Obamacare taxes and regulations, while an amendment that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) negotiated to earn conservative support was not enough to gain his vote.

Moran, meanwhile, was critical of the “closed door process” as well as the substance of the legislation. “We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” Moran said.

Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) had previously announced that they opposed the latest form of the bill, which was unveiled last week.

Republican leaders had hoped to at least get it through the motion to proceed vote, which would start the floor process during which amendments could also be voted on to secure support.

News that McCain had undergone emergency surgery for a blood clot on Friday had forced McConnell to “defer” a vote for the time being. With McCain’s absence, Republicans did not have the 50 votes to even bring the bill to the floor. Lee’s and Moran’s opposition means that at best the legislation will have to undergo more changes to get the 50 votes to pass it.

An email chain released as part of litigation around Kansas’ proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirement confirmed what many suspected to be Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s (R) long-term goal in partnering with President Trump’s administration.

The email chain, first published Saturday by the Huffington Post, reveals that Kobach emailed Trump’s transition team the day after Trump’s surprise victory informing transition member Gene Hamilton that he was working on draft “amendments to the [National Voter Registration Act] to make clear that proof of citizenship requirements are permitted” to submit as legislation to Congress.

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The White House announced Saturday the appointment of Washington lawyer Ty Cobb as special counsel, after reports that President Trump’s advisors were looking to beef up the in-house team defending him in the growing Russia scandal.

Cobb is a partner in the investigations practice of Hogan Lovells, a white collar D.C. law firm. His hiring was first reported by Bloomberg Friday.

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A Republican governor with significant influence over Senate Obamacare repeal effort was still skeptical of the recently revised bill after meeting with top officials in President Trump’s administration.

Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV) did not appear to be swayed by his closed door discussions with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma at a National Governor’s Association confab in Rhode Island, the Nevada Independent reported Saturday.

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President Trump chimed in on Twitter to downplay the Russia scandal that has ramped up scrutiny on the White House in the last few days, while touting stock market gains and jobs numbers.

When revelations began to trickle out that Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. — along with his top advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and then campaign chair Paul Manafort – met with Kremlin-tied figures during the campaign, Trump at first was slow to weigh in on the accusations.

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Big players in the insurance industry, which has mostly held back public criticism of the GOP’s Obamacare repeal push, eviscerated a Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)-sponsored provision that was included in the latest version of the Senate legislation.

“It is simply unworkable in any form and would undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions, increase premiums and lead to widespread terminations of coverage for people currently enrolled in the individual market,” Blue Cross Blue Shield and America’s Health Insurance Plans said Friday in a rare joint letter to Senate leaders.

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The Senate Obamacare overhaul bill cuts a massive amount of federal funding of health coverage — a cut that will only increase in time – and replaces it with a comparatively minuscule pot of health care funding for the states. How that money will be used to paper over the massive spending cut will be left largely to the discretion of the Department of Health and Human Services, meaning the states will have to compete for the pool of available funds with no guarantees they’ll get the assistance they’ll need to make up for the shortfall.

“The [HHS] Secretary can do what he wants or she wants with the money,” Timothy Jost, a health law specialist at Washington and Lee University, told TPM.

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A top GOP senator did not rule out that possibility that Republicans would use the Department of Health and Human Services to score a controversial proposal in their revised Obamacare repeal legislation if the Congressional Budget Office was taking too look in its analysis.

“We will see,” Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the No. 3 Senate Republican,  when ask if Republicans will just depend on the HHS if CBO’s analysis isn’t ready in time. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he’d like to take an initial, procedural vote on the bill next week.

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