Caitlin Owens Feb 17, 2017
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Mitch McConnell says GOP will pass health and tax reform without Democrats

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Senate majority leader said today that Republicans will pass their health and tax agendas without Democratic votes, the Associated Press reports. This is a departure from GOP talk of eventually bringing Democrats to the table to help with reforms to the health care system after Republicans repeal Obamacare.

Reality check: Republicans can't do everything they want to on health care without Democratic votes, under Senate rules. They can do a lot through a process called budget reconciliation, which allows them to pass budget-related policy with just 51 votes. But they can't touch central elements of Obamacare, such as:

  • The law's ban on discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions, either through denying them coverage or charging them higher premiums.
  • The law's requirement that insurers offer a defined set of benefits, known as the essential health benefits.
  • The regulation on how much of an insurer's income can be profit.

Why this matters: All pieces of health care impact one another. If Republicans don't write their health plans while acknowledging the reality of what they can and can't do, they could cause massive chaos in insurance markets.

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Trump: Transgender people "disqualified" from the military

SecDef Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford. Photo: Andrew Harrer-Pool / Getty Images

President Trump late Friday issued an order disqualifying most transgender people from serving in the military.

"[T]ransgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria -- individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery -- are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances."

Why it matters: Anything short of an inclusive policy for transgender troops will be viewed as a continuation of the ban Trump announced on Twitter in August.

Haley Britzky 4 hours ago
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Both Bush and Obama also requested line item veto power

Donald Trump.
Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Friday evening that to avoid having "this omnibus situation from ever happening again," he wants Congress to re-instate "a line-item veto."

Why it matters: This would allow him to veto specific parts of a bill without getting rid of the entire thing. Trump was deeply unhappy with the $1.3 trillion spending bill approved by Congress early Friday morning, but signed it anyway on Friday afternoon.