When the balky hardliners of the House Freedom Caucus visited the White House earlier this week, this was Steve Bannon's opening line, according to people in the conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building:
"Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill."
Perspective: It's hard to overstate the magnitude of the Day 64 defeat. President Trump, who made repeal-and-replace a central theme of his campaign, and House Republicans, who made it the central theme of every campaign since 2010, lost in a publicly humiliating way despite controlling every branch of government and enjoying margins in the House rarely seen in the past century.
This virtually guarantees no substantive legislative achievements in the first 100 days. And it creates rifts and suspicions and second-guessing that make governing much harder.
Reality check from Axios' David Nather:
"There's really no such thing as 'leaving Obamacare in place' under a Republican administration that hates it. The law has needed a tremendous amount of implementation funding and support from the Obama administration, and it's not going to get it under Trump and [HHS Secretary Tom] Price. And some of the problems in the insurance market have been caused by the loss of 'risk corridor' payments for health plans with expensive customers — which were cut because of Republican opposition."
Tiles in a mosaic that'll be studied and talked about, as long as people talk about politics:
What you've always dreamed of ... Our Justin Green took the tick-ticks from all the papersand combined them into one timeline. Genius!
WashPost's Bob Costa: "President Trump called me on my cellphone Friday afternoon at 3:31 p.m. ... [I]t was a blocked number. ... [I]t was the president calling from the Oval Office. His voice was even, his tone muted. He did not bury the lead. 'Hello, Bob,' Trump began. 'So, we just pulled it.'"
Costa live-Tweeted his scoop: "Still on phone. ... 'I don't blame Paul,' Trump tells me ... What a convo. I'll type it up quick."
Axios' Jonathan Swan had reported shortly before noon that Ryan was considering pulling the bill: "What leadership keenly understands is that the bottom falls out on a vote like this. ... If GOP leaders put the bill on the floor without the votes to win, it won't lose by a handful, it will lose badly."
But Trump broke his own news that he had agreed.
Trump told Costa: "I never said I was going to repeal and replace in the first 61 days."
"Turning to an aide, Trump asked, 'How many days is it now? Whatever.' He laughed. ... 'I would say [we were] within anywhere from five to 12 votes,' Trump said ... Does Trump regret starting his agenda this year with health care? 'No, I don't ... But in a way I'm glad I got it out of the way.' ...
"As Trump tried to hang up the phone and get back to work, I asked him to reflect ... on lessons learned. ... 'Just another day,' Trump said, flatly. 'Just another day in paradise, okay?' He paused. 'Take care.'"
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in a conversation with me yesterday morning at the debut Axios News Shapers event, said the administration will plunge into whole-hog tax reform: "We're reforming both the personal and the corporate side. We're not cutting this up and doing little pieces at a time."
"The World's Best CEOs: An Exclusive Barron's List — GM's Mary Barra and Microsoft's Satya Nadella join this year's roster of 30 outstanding corporate leaders":
"Troubled EU renews vows in Rome on 60th anniversary" — AFP: "Meeting without Britain just days before it triggers its divorce from the EU, the other 27 countries signed a new declaration on the Capitoline Hill where six founding states signed the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957."
The Economist, "Europe at 60 ... Can Europe be saved? If it is to survive, the European Union must become a lot more flexible": "A newly aggressive Russia under Vladimir Putin and, in Donald Trump, an American president who is unenthusiastic about both the EU and NATO, make this a terrible time for Europe to be weak and divided. That a project set up to underpin Europe's post-war security should falter at the very moment when that security is under threat is a bitter irony."
Wall Street Journal front page, "THE NEW HOLLYWOOD VILLAIN: Netflix is hogging talent and pushing up prices to create shows, spurring pushback," by Joe Flint and Shalini Rakmachandran:
If you love your work, you'll love this piece from Sports Illustrated ... "24 Hours ... With Adam Schefter: What's life like for the NFL's top news-breaker on his biggest day of the year? We went behind the scenes with ESPN's Adam Schefter for the whirlwind first day of 2017 free agency as he chased scoops."
"Schefter, 50, has been with ESPN for eight years, and has become the gold standard in the increasingly competitive 24/7 business of NFL news. In December he signed a five-year, multimillion-dollar contract extension that is thought to make him the highest-paid information man in the business and will keep him with ESPN through 2021. ... As The MMQB's Tim Rohan followed Schefter through the first day of free agency, one source of Schefter's said when stories get hot, 'I don't call the team; I call Schefter.''"
"A few years ago, Seth Markman, the senior coordinating producer who oversees ESPN's NFL coverage, decided that Schefter shouldn't drive anymore. Markman thought his reporter should be freed up to call and text at all times, so he could break more stories and avoid the hazard of texting while driving."
"Schefter's so locked into his phone that producers have had to warn him at times when he's approaching a staircase."