Senate Landscape Not As Rosy for GOP As It Once Was

Stuart Rothenberg: “If Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 presidential election, the GOP would now be headed to a dramatic 6-8 seat Senate gain next year, maybe even more, if history is any guide.”

“But with Donald Trump in the White House, Republican prospects are much less certain.”

“That doesn’t mean the GOP can’t or won’t have a successful 2018 cycle in the Senate. Given the Senate seats up, the president’s party could still win half a dozen seats or more. But there is no doubt that Trump’s victory in 2016 changed the national political environment in a way that makes next year’s midterms much more challenging for his party.”

Nunes Claims Trump Transition Was Under Surveillance

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said that members of the Trump transition team, possibly including Trump himself, “were under surveillance during the Obama administration following November’s election,” Politico reports.

“Nunes said the surveillance appears to have been legal, incidental collection and that it does not appear to have been related to concerns over collusion with Russia.”

Trump Approval Sinks to New Low

A new Quinnipiac survey finds President Trump is losing support among Republicans, white voters and men, leaving him with a negative 37% to 56% job approval rating from American voters, his worst score ever.

Said pollster Tim Malloy: “Most alarming for Trump, the demographic underpinnings of his support, Republicans, white voters, especially men and those without a college degree, are starting to have doubts.”

23 GOP Lawmakers Now Oppose Health Care Bill

According to The Hill, there are now 23 Republicans lawmakers who publicly say they will vote against the GOP health care bill in the House tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, a House Freedom Caucus spokeswoman tells Politico that more than 25 members are opposed.

Republicans cannot have more than 22 defections for the bill to pass.

For members: What If the GOP Health Care Bill Dies in the House?

Republicans Could Be Down Another Vote in the Senate

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), a reliable supporter of the GOP leadership’s legislative priorities, “is out indefinitely after two back surgeries. His office says he is trying to come back to the Senate as quickly as possible but it’s not clear whether he will return in time for the Obamacare debate,” Politico reports.

Without Isakson, it may be impossible to pass a health care bill before the recess.

Said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA): “We’ve got all these big votes coming up. He’ll be here as quick as he can. I just know Johnny well enough to know he’ll be here before his doctors even say it’s OK. He’ll be back here when we need him.”

Is McConnell’s Plan to Lose Fast?

Jonathan Chait: “Trumpcare may or may not grind out enough votes to pass the House. In the Senate, it’s hopelessly short of the 50 votes it needs. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has laid out a wildly aggressive time frame, under which his chamber would essentially xerox the House bill and pass it into law within a few days — no hearings, no negotiations. A few weeks ago, I suggested the possibility that McConnell’s plan was not wildly aggressive but actually designed to fail. His latest comments make this scenario seem far more likely.”

Said McConnell: “We’re not slowing down. We will reach a conclusion on health care next week. We’ll either pass something that will achieve a goal that we’ve been working on. Or not.”

“The only possible way a health-care bill could pass the Senate would be a heroic feat of negotiation to bridge the chasm between Republicans who think the House bill provides too much care (Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz) and those who think it provides too little (a group numbering perhaps as many as a dozen, depending on how one interprets various fretting remarks). Republicans can lose no more than two votes in the upper chamber.”

GOP Health Care Bill Only Helps the Wealthy

A new Urban Institute analysis finds that the typical family making less than $10,000 will lose $1,420 if the Republican health care plan passes, while the average family making $200,000 or more would gain $5,640.

Vox: “It’s not surprising that cutting taxes on the rich while gutting health coverage for the poor and middle class has regressive consequences. But the numbers the Urban analysts arrive at are still shocking. People making more than $1 million a year would get an average tax cut of $51,410.”

Jonathan Chait: 7 charts explain the horrors of Trumpcare.

Fact-Checking Lawmaker Letters to Constituents

“As the debate to repeal the law heats up in Congress, constituents are flooding their representatives with notes of support or concern, and the lawmakers are responding, sometimes with form letters that are misleading. A review of more than 200 such letters by ProPublica and its partners at Kaiser Health News, Stat and Vox, found dozens of errors and mischaracterizations about the ACA and its proposed replacement. The legislators have cited wrong statistics, conflated health care terms and made statements that don’t stand up to verification.”

“It’s not clear if this is intentional or if the lawmakers and their staffs don’t understand the current law or the proposals to alter it. Either way, the issue of what is wrong — and right — about the current system has become critical as the House prepares to vote on the GOP’s replacement bill Thursday.”

Flynn Never Signed Ethics Pledge on Lobbying

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn “did not sign an ethics pledge ostensibly required of all Trump administration appointees barring them from ethically questionable lobbying activities,” the Daily Beast reports.

“The pledge, imposed by executive order a week after President Donald Trump took office, bars all federal appointees from lobbying their former colleagues for five years after leaving the administration and bans them from lobbying on behalf of foreign governments for life.”

GOP Leaders Still Don’t Have the Votes

“Despite a frantic lobbying effort, President Donald Trump and House GOP leaders are still short of the votes they need to pass their Obamacare replacement bill, just two days before the legislation is set to be taken up on the floor,” Politico reports.

“Conservative hard-liners from the House Freedom Caucus are threatening to derail the legislation, saying revisions announced on Monday night don’t go far enough. A handful of moderate Republicans are also balking at the Trump-backed measure.”

New York Times: “Despite the day’s feverish efforts — a combination of cajoling, browbeating and horse-trading that recalled Democrats’ efforts to pass the law in 2010 — White House and congressional officials conceded Tuesday that they still lacked the votes to pass the bill. As many as three dozen Republicans remain opposed or unpersuaded, according to one aide with knowledge of the process, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.”

House GOP Bill Is Already Dead in the Senate

“Forget the House GOP’s troubles passing a health care bill. The party’s bigger problem looms in the Senate,” Politico reports.

“Mitch McConnell is being tasked with fixing what GOP senators and House members say is a flawed Obamacare repeal proposal — one with little to no chance of passing in that chamber in its current form — in a week’s time.”

Said one GOP senator: “Maybe the best outcome is for this to fail in the House so we can move on to tax reform. Which is what we should have done anyway.”