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Pharma loses: No Medicare change in spending bill

Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi
Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Photo: Matt McClain / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The pharmaceutical industry suffered a rare lobbying loss in Congress' big spending bill. An earlier spending bill forced the industry to cover more of the costs for seniors' Medicare drug coverage, and it was hoping to get that provision rolled back this time. But that won't happen, despite behind-the-scenes lobbying from both industry and lawmakers.

Why this matters: Pharma was caught off guard by the provision last time, and its lobbying was unsuccessful this go-around. This is highly unusual for the powerful industry, although the provision could still be reversed in the future.

Jonathan Swan 9 hours ago
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Trump asked Netanyahu if he genuinely cares about peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump at the White House in March. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

In a phone call last year with Bibi Netanyahu, President Trump said something that shocked some of the people who helped prepare his briefing materials for the conversations. According to three sources familiar with the call, Trump asked Bibi bluntly if he actually cares about peace or not.

The details: Trump was pressing Bibi on the importance of striking a "deal" for Mideast peace. He'd read news reports about Bibi planning to build additional settlements to please his conservative base in Israel. Trump thought Bibi was unnecessarily angering the Palestinians. So, in the course of a longer conversation that was mostly friendly and complimentary, he bluntly asked Bibi whether or not he genuinely wants peace.

Jonathan Swan 9 hours ago
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Kellyanne Conway rises — again

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has never actually wanted the job of White House communications director, according to sources who've discussed it with her, but Axios has learned that she left many in the White House communications team this week with the impression that she'd be leading the team in some capacity.

Behind the scenes: Senior White House communications official Mercedes Schlapp convened an off-site team-building and planning retreat last week for the White House comms team. They held the session on Thursday at the General Services Administration building a couple blocks from the WH (the same building that once housed the transition).