Above Sean Spicer’s Pay Grade

4 minute read

House Republican leadership and the White House have locked arms behind the GOP’s Obamacare replacement package, with the president formally endorsing the measure Tuesday. Facing opposition from conservative lawmakers who feel it doesn’t go far enough, and from moderates who worry the opposite, Speaker of the House Ryan declared Wednesday that the bill is “a conservative wish-list.” It’s the beginning of Republicans’ all-out effort to bring their members along so they can fulfill the promise they have consistently made to their votes for eight years: to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Now, in control of both the legislative and executive branches, the GOP is out of excuses. What the White House and Ryan will communicate to members is that failing to support the House bill would mark a breach of trust with their voters. They believe there is only one opportunity to reform the law—and even that is sketchy—and that failing to act now will mean the law exists in perpetuity.

The House will begin marking-up the legislation Wednesday, beginning the process of tweaking the draft proposal released Monday. But all of that is set to happen in a vacuum, without a “score” from the Congressional Budget Office, which would reveal just how much it would cost the federal government. Republicans are looking to push ahead without the data, believing that’s the only way they can build the necessary momentum to send the legislation to the Senate—and to meet their ambitious time frame of passing the legislation by the Easter recess.

The White House is still struggling to defend President Donald Trump’s allegation of wiretapping by former President Barack Obama, with press secretary Sean Spicer saying Tuesday that any proof, if it exists, is “above [his] pay grade.” The administration was caught off guard by Trump’s charge, which came as he was frustrated by press coverage about his associates’ ties to Russia and after a heated Oval Office exchange with his senior staff on Friday.

Trump upsets his predecessor. His National Security Advisor attends a naturalization ceremony. And Neil Gorsuch’s classmates’ letter.

Here are your must reads:

Must Reads

Rapport Between Donald Trump, Barack Obama Crumbles

Budding feud is new distraction in a Trump presidency that has been struggling to enact its agenda [Wall Street Journal]

Trump campaign approved adviser’s trip to Moscow

Campaign leaders knew in advance of Carter Page’s Russia visit in July 2016, former aide says [Politico]

WikiLeaks Releases Trove of Alleged C.I.A. Hacking Documents

Further straining Washington’s ties with Silicon Valley [New York Times]

These Republicans Have Criticized the New House GOP Health Care Plan

A roster of those opposed or critical of the bill [TIME]

Sound Off

“This will be a plan where you can choose your doctor. This will be a plan where you can choose your plan.” —President Donald Trump taking ownership of the GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan Tuesday.

“My understanding is he’s still under audit” —White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on whether the President will release his tax returns this year.

Bits and Bites

Exclusive: Neil Gorsuch’s Columbia Classmates Wrote a Letter of Support For His Supreme Court Nomination [TIME]

The Entire Senate Wants President Trump to Act on Threats Against Jewish Centers [TIME]

Top official overseeing Trump’s D.C hotel is out at GSA as Democrats call for investigation of lease [Washington Post]

Trump’s new national security adviser attends naturalization ceremony of Iraqi he sponsored [CNN]

Next step in Dem realignment: Their own CPAC [Politico]

Major Conservative Groups Have Big Problems With the GOP Obamacare Replacement Bill [TIME]

3 Times Donald Trump’s Team Got Hit With Plagiarism Charges [TIME]

Rod Rosenstein Will Not Commit to Recusing Himself from Russia Investigation [Associated Press]

President Trump Surprises Group of Schoolchildren as White House Tours Resume [TIME]

More Must-Reads From TIME

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