Feb 27, 2017

Governors to Trump: Make sure no one loses health insurance

In a meeting with President Trump Monday morning, governors of both parties told the president — along with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price — they don't want their constituents to lose health coverage.

"We do not want one citizen to lose health care," Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, told reporters at a Capitol Hill briefing after the meeting. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, echoed this and added: "What i heard today made me feel good." But they didn't give any details, and a presentation given to the governors on Saturday morning analyzing the House GOP Obamacare repeal and replacement plan showed millions of people losing coverage.

Later, Sandoval said he got the impression that the Trump administration will put out a plan, and not just defer to Congress on the whole issue. "The message that we got was two to three weeks before we see some specifics," he said.

The governors spoke in vague terms about the meeting, but what to do about Medicaid expansion — and the tension between states who took it and those that didn't — did come up.

"What I heard is they want to ensure no states are penalized. Because it works both ways," Sandoval, the governor of an expansion state, said. He was referencing the GOP's particularly difficult Medicaid conundrum: States that took the expansion don't want to lose federal funding for the expansion population, while states that didn't expand say it's not fair for some states to get more Medicaid money than others.

Sandoval said his support for a per capita cap, the current leading Medicaid reform plan coming out of the House that would limit federal funding per enrollee, depends on how the cap is designed.

Why this matters: Governors' support for the GOP Obamacare repeal and replacement plan is still up in the air, as are the details of the plan itself. Republican governors' support is crucial.

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Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump administration to eliminate nuclear waivers tied to Iran deal

Pompeo testifies on Iran in February. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The U.S. is ending waivers that had allowed foreign companies to work at Iran's civilian nuclear facilities, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday.

Why it matters: This will eliminate most elements of U.S. sanctions relief still in place two years after President Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Pompeo said "continued nuclear escalation" made the move necessary, but critics warn it will encourage further Iranian enrichment.

Top Senate Democrat says State Dept. is working on new Saudi arms deal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs reporters on May 20. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/pool/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) wrote in a CNN op-ed on Wednesday that he learned that the State Department is currently working to sell thousands of additional precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia.

Why it matters: Democrats say that Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general who was ousted on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recommendation, was investigating the administration's previous effort to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval.