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Andrew Harnik / AP

The fate of the healthcare bill is unknowable after yesterday's embarrassing delay and President Trump's strong-arm gamble of demanding a vote today. "Failure is an option," Axios' David Nather writes.

But lessons from the debacle are already apparent:

  • For tax reform, the White House and congressional leaders should consider splitting key elements into separate measures that have a better chance of success than a massive package. "Congress can only absorb so much political pain on the way to making big changes," a top lobbyist told me.
  • Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, in a N.Y. Times front-pager headlined "A Brave Front, but Regrets? He Has a Few," say Trump focused on the fight too late: "Trump has told four people close to him that he regrets going along with ... Ryan's plan to push a health care overhaul before unveiling a tax cut proposal more politically palatable to Republicans. ... Trump was slow to recognize the high stakes of the fight, or the implications of losing. He approved the agenda putting health care first late last year, almost in passing."
  • Tucker Carlson, looking ahead to immigration reform on his Fox show last night, said Trump needs to employ fear sooner, and propose his own policy: "If the president wants an immigration bill, the White House ought to present its plan — not talking points, but a real plan, with details — explain what it is, why it works, how it will make the American middle class stronger than it already is, and then wield the stick. Make it plain that if Republican members of Congress won't back that bill, the White House will support primary efforts by those who will."
  • Dan Balz, in a front-page WashPost column,"In a do-or-die moment, Republicans come undone": "Trump's reputation as the closer in chief has taken a hit — and on the first big test of his presidency. The greater damage has been to the reputation of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan ... as the savvy intellectual godfather of a new conservative agenda around which his party could rally."
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Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

2 hours ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

2 hours ago - Health

Africa CDC: Vaccines likely won't be available until Q2 of 2021

Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong. Photo: Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.

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