December 15, 2018

How Schumer united Dems against Trump’s wall

The midterm election results had barely finished trickling in when Chuck Schumer began preparing for a head-on collision with President Donald Trump over the border wall.

The Senate minority leader called his members on the phone and buttonholed them in his office — eager to see where they stood on the president's $5 billion border wall request, according to a person familiar with his interactions.

Several moderate Democrats had previously endorsed or considered supporting the funding, but after the midterms, the whip count was clear. There aren't even close to nine Democrats who would join Republicans to break a filibuster.

The bottom line? Mexico isn't paying for the border wall, and neither is Congress — even if there's a Christmastime shutdown.

"You can break arms and do things like that, I don't think the votes are here," said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). Even ousted Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) said in an interview he wasn't wedded to the $5 billion wall proposal after endorsing it during his reelection camp

Obamacare ruling delivers new shock to health system

Expanded Medicaid for millions. Penalties for poorly performing hospitals. Even the Trump administration's own plans to lower drug prices.

Those and many other initiatives would all be illegal under a federal judge's sweeping decision that the entire Affordable Care Act must be struck down — the latest shock to the nation's health system after a decade of upheavals, including two fights over the ACA that reached the Supreme Court.

Friday night's surprise decision — the Trump administration had asked U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor to wait until after the ACA's open enrollment period ended early Sunday morning — doesn't require all ACA-created projects and health coverage to immediately cease. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra already has vowed to appeal, and administration officials say the law will remain in place while the legal challenges play out.

But the case, seemingly bound for the Supreme C

December 14, 2018

Judge rules Obamacare unconstitutional, endangering coverage for 20 million

A federal judge in Texas threw the health coverage of some 20 million Americans in limbo by ruling Obamacare must be scrapped because Congress struck the penalty for failing to obtain insurance coverage.

The invalidation of the landmark 2010 law is certain to send shock waves through the U.S. health system and Washington after a midterm election seen in part as a rebuke to Republican efforts to tear down Obamacare.

"Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas," President Donald Trump wrote in a tweet celebrating the verdict. "Great news for America!"

The decision will be immediately appealed, said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led several blue states in intervening to defend the ACA. It could ultimately become the third major Obamacare case to be taken up by the Supreme Court, which has twice voted to uphold the law.

U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor, a George W. Bush appointee in Fort Worth, Texas, issued the decision guttin

CBO: Criminal justice bill would reduce federal prison population, increase spending

The Senate's criminal justice reform bill would reduce the federal prison population pver a 10 year period by 53,000 "person-years," which is roughly equivalent to releasing 53,000 inmates in one year, according to an estimate released Friday from the Congressional Budget Office.

In addition, CBO predicted that the faster release of inmates would increase the number of people benefiting from federal programs, like Medicaid and Social Security, since inmates are generally ineligible for many federal assistance programs while serving time. That would increase direct federal government spending by $346 million and reduce revenue by $6 million, also from 2019 through 2028, CBO said.

The CBO notes the report isn't a complete analysis of all of the bill's budgetary effects.

The Senate will vote Monday to advance the legislation, which did not appear to be moving forward until earlier this week, when Senate Majority Leader Mitc

George Papadopoulos considering run for Congress

George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign foreign policy aide who just completed a prison term for lying to the FBI, is planning a political comeback in California — where he says he intends to run for Congress.

The 32-year-old just spent 12 days in a Wisconsin prison after pleading guilty to making false statements when the FBI interviewed him about contacts with a professor, Joseph Mifsud, who claimed to know that Russia had come into possession of thousands of emails connected to Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulos was released from prison on Dec. 7.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's office has described Mifsud as connected to Russia, but in recent months, Papadopoulos has become a proponent of an alternative theory: that Mifsud is actually connected to Western intelligence and was part of a plot to entrap him and undercut Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Papadopoulos now lives in Los Angeles with his wife Simona, who is pursuing an acting and modeling career there. His political ambition was <a href="https: