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Evan Vucci / AP

Republican leaders are coming to the bleak conclusion they will end summer and begin the fall with no major policy accomplishments. Privately, they realize it's political malpractice to blow at least the first nine months of all-Republican rule, but also realize there's little they can do to avoid the dismal outcome.

In fact, they see the next four months as MORE troublesome than the first four. They're facing terrible budget choices and headlines, the painful effort to re-work the health care Rubik's Cube in the House (presuming it makes it out of the Senate), a series of special-election scares (or losses) — all with scandal-mania as the backdrop.

One of the key insights I picked up at last week's SALT hedge-fund conference in Vegas (tough duty) was that nobody thought health care reform would happen, and most were very skeptical that Trump and Republicans could get their acts together enough to pass tax reform this year.

Asked about both onstage, Jeb Bush said a flat "no" to health care and a very unconvincing "maybe" to tax reform. The masters of the universe had more colorful words in private — they're deeply pessimistic about health care.

A source close to the Republican congressional leadership emails a vivid snapshot of the party's feng shui:

We are walking into an autumn of discontent because they won't have any legislative accomplishment when they come back from the August recess. ... Their biggest problem is that the reconciliation instructions will expire at the end of September. ...
They're going to go home and get the [stuff] kicked out of them because people think it actually was accomplished — and, by the way, people are likely going to be getting their premium increases that are going to occur regardless of whether they pass this bill or not. ...
And now the president's threatening that he's not going to approve the money for the insurance subsidies — it is going to be a catastrophic political problem ...
They are in this terrible box on healthcare and they're about to get blamed for it because they did what I've been calling that Bon Jovi rally at the White House — because they were halfway there.

Update:

A top Republican points out that the original version of this story - which referenced "zero" legislative accomplishments - leaves out some notable Trump wins. Namely, confirming Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and unwinding dozens of Obama regulations.

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Go deeper

Trump can't quit mainstream media

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa are interviewed by Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" in September. Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC via Getty Images

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa issued a rebuttal on Friday to a statement by former President Donald Trump that misrepresented their reporting — and once again showed the 45th president's thin skin about mainstream media.

Driving the news: "Former President Trump said ... our book, 'Peril,' implied that he was planning to go to war with China," the statement begins. "[W]e report that Chairman of Joint Chiefs Mark Milley 'believed that Trump did not want a war' before or after the 2020 election."

NY declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron COVID variant

Governor Kathy Hochul makes an announcement about a new plan transforming Penn Station on Nov. 3, 2021. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday declared a state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases and the newly-identified Omicron variant of the virus.

Driving the news: The declaration enables the state to acquire supplies to fight a potential surge in cases, increase hospital capacity and combat potential staff shortages, NBC's local affiliate reports.

4 hours ago - Health

First cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant discovered in U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Two cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant were detected in the United Kingdom overnight, the U.K. Health Security Agency announced Saturday.

Why it matters: The discovery comes as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.