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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House of Representatives is set to decide Friday whether to push Republican leaders' plan to repeal and replace Obamacare through to the Senate.

After House GOP leaders postponed a vote Thursday when it was clear they lacked the votes to ensure the bill's passage, the White House delivered a late-night ultimatum: Vote Friday or the president is prepared to move on to other business.

The president has “left everything on the field when it comes to this bill,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday at an afternoon press briefing, adding that House Speaker Paul Ryan "has done everything he can” to collect votes but “at the end of the day, you can’t force people to vote.”

Spicer said the GOP leadership and the White House continue to pick up “yes” votes, but it remains unclear whether they will be able to persuade enough of their party's lawmakers to vote for the bill Friday afternoon.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney had earlier told Republican legislators if the House doesn’t act Friday, the president is prepared to leave the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, in place, a GOP aide told ABC News.

It’s a move right out of the president’s own book, The Art of the Deal.

Trump answered questions from reporters Friday morning in the Oval Office on what he’ll do if the bill fails.

“We’ll have to see, see what happens,” he said.

On whether he thought the bill was rushed, he replied, “no.” He also stood by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., saying “yes” when asked whether he should remain in his position as speaker of the House if the bill fails.

At around 11 a.m. Friday, the House voted along partisan lines -- with most present Republicans voting yes and all present Democrats voting no -- to move the bill to the floor. Congress members will have four hours to debate the bill before voting.

For Ryan and the Trump administration, all hands are on deck Friday. The speaker went to the White House shortly after noon to update the president, and Vice President Mike Pence canceled a trip to Arkansas Friday to stay in D.C.

At around 1 p.m., Pence went to the Capitol Hill Club to join the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative group of lawmakers who oppose the bill unless amendments are made.

This bill needs no less than 215 "yes" votes to pass the House, lowering the number from 216 because one Democrat will be absent for the vote.

Trump Friday morning tweeted that "after seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!"

The president also Friday morning called out the House Freedom Caucus, suggesting that without the GOP bill, the women's health care and family-planning organization Planned Parenthood would not be subject to funding cuts.

Asked Friday morning on ABC News' Good Morning America, if the bill has enough votes to pass, Mulvaney could not say for certain.

“Don't know,” Mulvaney said. “That's up to the House to count their own votes."

At least 32 Republicans had said they would oppose the bill, according to ABC News’ latest count. Because the GOP needs 215 votes for a simple majority to pass the bill in the House, it can afford to lose only 22 Republican votes, depending on whether all Democratic members are present, to move the legislation.

Both Democrats and Republicans shared their thoughts on the bill in several animated floor speeches Friday morning.

“There are only two ways you can vote for this bill,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said. “One is you don’t know what’s in the bill. Or two is you have to have a heart of stone. Because this bill is shameful.”

Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, echoed the sentiments of many moderate Republicans hoping to capitalize on GOP power in Congress and the White House: “Now that we’re given the opportunity to govern and keep our promises and to deliver results for the American people, we can’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

And even if the bill passes the House, its future in the Senate is unclear.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- As the House of Representatives prepares to vote Friday on the GOP’s alternative to Obamacare, a question hovering over negotiations on the bill is whether President Trump’s reputation as a dealmaker in business can translate to working with Congress.

Trump’s 1987 bestselling book, The Art of the Deal, branded him as a master at cutting deals.

Over the past week, Trump has sought to apply his negotiating skills to rally support for the American Health Care Act from both moderate and conservative Republican lawmakers who have expressed either concerns about the bill or outright opposition.

Trump wrote in his book, "Sometimes, part of making a deal is denigrating your competition.”

In a closed-door meeting with House Republicans on Tuesday, the president cautioned them not to be “fools.”

According to a House member in the meeting, Trump also, with a smile, pointed out House Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows, who’s opposing the bill, and warned him: “I’m gonna come after you.”

Trump met with the the conservative Freedom Caucus on Thursday, but did not reach an agreement to overcome the group's concerns about the bill.

Then Friday morning, ahead of an expected vote in the House later that day, Trump posted a tweet aimed at that caucus.

The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2017

Trump wrote in Art of the Deal of his persistence in negotiations.

“My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after," he wrote.

After House GOP leaders on Thursday postponed a vote on the health care bill when it was clear they lacked the votes to ensure its passage, Trump took another page out of Art of the Deal. The White House delivered a late-night ultimatum to Republican House members: Vote Friday or the president is prepared to move on to other business.

In his book, Trump also wrote about the importance of knowing "when to walk away."

Trump answered questions from reporters Friday morning in the Oval Office on what he’ll do if the bill fails.

“We’ll have to see, see what happens,” he said.

At around 11 a.m. Friday, the House voted along partisan lines -- with most present Republicans voting yes and all present Democrats voting no -- to move the bill to the floor. Congress members will have four hours to debate the bill before voting.

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Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., announced Friday that Paul Manafort, former chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, has volunteered to testify in front of the committee.

Nunes told the press in his announcement Friday that it is up to Manafort to decide whether or not his testimony will be in an open hearing. A Senate source tells ABC News that the Senate Intelligence Committee will also meet with Manafort as part of its similar investigation.

A spokesman for the former Trump campaign chairman told ABC News that Manafort contacted the House committee to volunteer his testimony for the panel's investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election and of whether any Trump associates colluded in those actions.

"As Mr. Manafort has always maintained, he looks forward to meeting with those conducting serious investigations of these issues to discuss the facts," the spokesperson said.

Nunes also clarified that Manafort is not one of the individuals caught up in incidental surveillance of the Trump transition team. Earlier this week, Nunes drew skepticism when he revealed to the press and the White House that he had new information from secret sources suggesting the Obama administration had collected surveillance on members of the Trump transition team and possibly Trump himself in the course of the investigation of Russia.

The committee chairman said Friday that the House Intelligence Committee has not received documents from the National Security Administration to officially corroborate those claims from his secret sources and said he doesn't expect to get them Friday.

Democrats have asserted that no matter what NSA documents the committee receives, the president's claims that his predecessor wiretapped him during the campaign will never be vindicated. Many have called into question Nunes' ability to conduct a fair investigation of the Russia matter.

Nunes also announced on Friday that the committee has called on FBI Director James Comey and the National Security Agency director, Adm. Mike Rogers, to return to the Hill to brief the House Intelligence Committee in a closed session. Nunes said the panel needs a private session with Comey and Rogers because there are things they couldn’t talk about publicly in Monday's public hearing.

In anticipation of that closed meeting, a previously planned March 28 hearing is now postponed, Nunes also announced.

A number of senior former intelligence and Justice Department officials had been invited to the March 28 hearing, including former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

The ranking Democratic member on the Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tweeted that Chairman Nunes cancelled the hearing in an "attempt to choke off public info."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The White House announced Friday it has signed off on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, authorizing the Canadian company behind the project to begin construction.

According to a press release from the Department of State, a presidential permit was issued to TransCanada Corp., authorizing the energy firm "to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the U.S.-Canadian border in Phillips County, Montana, for the importation of crude oil."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recused himself from any decision involving the Keystone pipeline because of his previous role as the head of ExxonMobil. The department announced his recusal earlier this month, but said he made the decision as soon as he took office in early February.

The presidential permit was signed by Thomas Shannon, the undersecretary of state for political affairs.

"In making his determination that issuance of this permit would serve the national interest, the Under Secretary considered a range of factors, including but not limited to foreign policy; energy security; environmental, cultural, and economic impacts; and compliance with applicable law and policy," the State department's press release said.

The Keystone pipeline would carry oil from the tar sands of Canada to Nebraska, where it would connect with other pipelines down to the Gulf of Mexico. It requires federal approval because it crosses an international border.

Environmental groups slammed the Trump administration's decision to grant the permit, arguing that the fossil fuel project will exacerbate climate change.

“The dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline is one of the worst deals imaginable for the American people, so of course Donald Trump supports it. This project has already been defeated, and it will be once again. The project faces a long fight ahead in the states," Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a statement Friday. “We’re living in what feels to be the worst version of Groundhog Day imaginable, as every morning we’re waking up to yet another decision made by Trump that would be disastrous for our climate, our communities, and our health — but Trump will not succeed."

“The State Department just sent a signal to the rest of the world that the United States government is moving backwards when it comes to climate and energy," according to a statement from Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard Friday. "The world simply cannot afford to transport or burn the Canadian tar sands if we hope to have any chance at avoiding catastrophic climate change. Keystone was stopped once before, and it will be stopped again.”

Friday's announcement came two months after President Trump signed memorandums aimed at advancing both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, a move which pleased supporters of the projects and brought immediate condemnation from environmentalists and other opponents.

The Keystone memorandum, which was addressed to the departments of State, the Army and the Interior, sought to restart the presidential permit process for TransCanada. It also called on the State Department to decide within 60 days, utilizing the environmental impact study from 2014, as opposed to starting from scratch. The memo also asked the Interior Department and Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the decision.

The State department's decision to issue the permit follows years of reviews under President Barack Obama, whose administration ultimately denied TransCanada's application.

“Secretary Kerry informed me that, after extensive public outreach and consultation with other Cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States. I agree with that decision,” Obama said in 2015 remarks rejecting the project.

Given the Obama administration’s denial of a permit, critics questioned what new information the Trump administration was considering that could lead to a different conclusion.

“We did do an extensive review previously, but we’re looking at new factors. I don’t want to speak to those until we’ve reached a decision or conclusion,” State department spokesperson Mark Toner said at a press briefing Thursday.

When questioned on how two administrations could look at the same evidence and make different conclusions, Toner told reporters, “Our review, previous review stands. Those conclusions stand. I think we’re just looking at it with fresh eyes and trying to see if there’s any new factors to look at and consider.”

Trump has promised nearly 30,000 jobs as a result of the construction of the Keystone pipeline. But according to the 2013 State department report on Keystone, the majority of the jobs created by the Keystone pipeline are temporary, with only 35 listed as permanent jobs.

In a 2014 interview with ABC News, TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said the thousands of jobs created will be during the major construction period.

“Yes, the actual operating jobs are about 50," Girling said. "But that doesn't include all the other jobs that come with it."


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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — After a last-ditch appeal to House Republicans, Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, said Friday morning that he's not sure if there will be enough votes in the House to pass the GOP health care bill.

"That's up to the House to count their own votes," Mulvaney said in an interview on Good Morning America.

"Republicans all want the same thing," he added. "They want to get rid of Obamacare and give people the control and the options that they want, the quality that they need and the affordability they deserve. This is the chance today to deliver all of those things in the House."

Despite heavy criticism from a group of moderate and conservative Republicans, both the White House and House Speaker Paul Ryan are pushing hard for the American Health Care Act. Ryan said Thursday night that the bill will be voted on Friday.

The White House said it is "confident" the bill will pass. "We feel this should be done in the light of day, not in the wee hours of the night and we are confident the bill will pass in the morning," according to White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Mulvaney, a former member of the rabble-rousing House Freedom Caucus, told House Republicans during a meeting on Capitol Hill Thursday night that President Trump felt the time had come for a vote, sources told ABC News.

"The president wants to get rid of Obamacare," Mulvaney said on GMA. "Say what you want to about Donald Trump — this is not an ordinary politician. He wants to do this and he wants to do it now."

He went on, "That's the message I delivered on his behalf last night and I hope the House Republicans were listening. I think they were."

Trump had made his final sales pitch to conservative House Freedom Caucus members at the White House earlier Thursday. But after the meeting, caucus members said they hadn't reached a point where they could back the American Health Care Act in its current form.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its score on the amended health bill, saying it would reduce the deficit by less than the original and leave just as many more people uninsured after a decade — 24 million.

While acknowledging the White House might not get the votes it needs to pass the health bill, Trump's budget director said he's confident in the president's ability to seal the deal.

"I have a lot of confidence in the president," Mulvaney said. "The president is a tremendous sales person, a tremendous closer. I wouldn't count him out."

 

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tupungato/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, a central promise of GOP leadership, is set for a showdown Friday as President Donald Trump issued an ultimatum, demanding that
the House of Representatives move forward.

The American Health Care Act is being pushed full steam ahead by both Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House, despite heavy criticism from a group of moderate and conservative Republicans.

House leaders said Thursday night that the plan is to put the bill to a vote on Friday.

“For seven-and-a-half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it's collapsing and it’s failing families,” Ryan said. “And tomorrow
we're proceeding.”

The statement came after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a score on the amended bill, saying it would reduce the deficit by less than the original and leave just as many more
people uninsured after a decade -- 24 million.

President Donald Trump's top advisers told House Republicans in a meeting on the Hill Thursday evening that the president felt the time had come for a vote. Sources in the room told ABC News that
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney, a former member of the rabble-rousing House Freedom Caucus, delivered President Trump's message.

"That's what POTUS wants," one attendee told ABC News.

“We have to have a vote tomorrow. He expects it to pass. But he’s moving on if for some reason it didn't," Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., told reporters after the meeting.

Senior Trump aides Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus and Kellyanne Conway were in the room but did not speak during the session, sources said.

On his way into the meeting, Priebus told ABC News he's "feeling good" about the situation. "Still feeling positive. A lot of work to do," he said.

While sources said White House officials didn't rule out further negotiations or changes to the bill, they made clear the time has come to put the conference on record.

"This is the only train leaving the station that is going to be repealing Obamacare," White House press secretary Sean Spicer told Fox News after the meeting broke. "Tomorrow it is time to vote."

House Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, who has led opposition to the plan and has been courted personally by the president, was not in attendance. He told reporters
outside the meeting that he was looking to have discussions with the more moderate "Tuesday Group" later this evening.

The AHCA vote was postponed this afternoon as the party struggled to collect the votes needed to ensure its passage.

The White House said it is "confident" the bill will pass Friday. "We feel this should be done in the light of day, not in the wee hours of the night and we are confident the bill will pass in the

morning," said White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

President Trump had made his last-minute sales pitch to conservative House Freedom Caucus members at the White House earlier in the day. After the meeting, however, caucus members said they hadn't
reached a point where they could support the AHCA in its current form.

The president and caucus members discussed options and were "trying to get creative," Meadows told ABC News.

“We are certainly trying to get to yes,” Meadows told reporters on the Hill today before the vote postponement. “But, indeed, we've made very reasonable requests and we are hopeful that those
reasonable requests will be listened to and, ultimately, agreed to.”

Spicer had earlier called the meeting a “positive step” and said the White House was “very, very pleased with the direction” of the negotiations.

He also dismissed characterizations of the meeting as attempts to strike a deal.

“I think some of them stood up and said, ‘Mr. President, we're with you.’ I think a lot of them said, ‘We're going to go back and think about it.’ The meeting didn't conclude by saying, ‘Do we have
a deal?’ That’s not why we have it,” Spicer said. “This was a discussion that the president continues to have.”

Some House Republicans have grown frustrated with the demands of their colleagues in the Freedom Caucus.

"Two groups that don't represent even the majority of the Republican conference have been given every opportunity to have multiple conversations with the president and the leadership," Rep. Bradley
Byrne, R-Alabama, said. "At some point, you've got to say, 'That's it.' And we're at that point."

At least 32 Republicans had said they would oppose the bill, according to ABC News’ latest whip count. The GOP needs 216 votes for a simple majority to pass the bill in the House, so they can
afford to lose 21 votes for passage.


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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump, trucker in chief?

That's the role the president briefly assumed Thursday when he climbed into the driver’s seat of a Mack 18-wheeler parked on the South Lawn of the White House.

Trump, who wore an "I Love Trucks" button on his lapel, tried his best to emulate a truck driver: He enthusiastically pumped his fists, made a series of facial expressions that lit up the
Twittersphere, and excitedly tooted the big rig's horn at least six times.

And Trump clearly didn't run out of gas: following his spirited session of trucker role play, he met with truckers and CEOs from the American Trucking Association to discuss healthcare.

John Lex, @Walmart Transportation, riding shotgun with @realDonaldTrump in the @ATASharetheRoad truck at the @WhiteHouse. #TruckersWithTrump pic.twitter.com/aShNLJwuYf

— American Trucking (@TRUCKINGdotORG) March 23, 2017

"No one knows America like truckers know America," he said during the meeting. "You see it every day. You see every hill, and you see every valley and you see every pothole in our roads that have
to be rebuilt."

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apbalboa/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Areas that voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election by the widest margins could see significantly larger cuts in health care subsidies than other Americans, according to a new
ABC News analysis of data provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the 2016 election results.

The numbers show that voters who are older and low-income would get hit hardest by the American Health Care Act, but those aren't the only reasons many Trump voters could fare worse than other
Americans if the bill becomes law.

A look at the how the law would change health care policy in different parts of the country shows that people of the same age and same income could see thousands of dollars more or less in tax
credits based on where they live.

The areas that voted for Trump -- especially those where Trump won big -- could be hit hardest.

The new numbers show that geography, cost of living, family income, rural/urban divides and state-by-state healthcare rules mean people in areas that voted for Trump would get less in tax credits
than those who voted for Clinton under the new legislation -- even with the exact same age and income.

That's according to a new ABC News analysis of the data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit focusing on national health issues, and Associated Press election results.

Fox example, a 40-year-old making $30,000 per year under the new plan would get $138 more in tax credits, on average, in counties where Clinton won. But in counties where Trump won, this person
would get an average of $353 less in tax credits.

Similarly, a 60-year-old making $40,000 per year would get $2,747 less in tax credits in counties Clinton won, but would get $4,181 less in tax credits in counties that Trump won.

And for a 27-year-old making $30,000 per year, tax credits would rise by $16 on average in counties that Clinton won but would decrease by an average of $329 in counties that Trump won.

This analysis does not take into account changes the House made on March 20 that would potentially allow for larger tax credits under the AHCA for people over age 50, according to Kaiser.

The margin by which Trump or Clinton won each county also makes a difference. People in counties that most overwhelmingly voted for Trump -- by a margin of more than 30 percent -- would see their
tax credits go down more than a person with the exact same age and income who lives in a county Clinton won by similar margins.

And for older Americans, these difference could amount to thousands of dollars. A 60-year-old making $40,000 per year who lives in a county that strongly favored Trump would see their tax credit
cut by almost twice the amount as would be the case in a county where Clinton dominated.

A 60-year-old making $40,000 per year in a strong Trump county could lose double the same person in a strong Clinton county under #AHCA. pic.twitter.com/BRubsFMuvY

— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) March 23, 2017

For other people, the difference could be between receiving more or less in tax credits under the new plan. Take a look at this chart for a 40-year-old making $30,000 per year:

Who gets hit hardest by #AHCA? Areas that voted for Donald Trump by the widest margins via @ABC analysis of @KaiserFamFound and @AP data. pic.twitter.com/kXhCjqnxge

— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) March 23, 2017

The differences are even more stark in terms of the tax credits each person would receive.

Your tax credits under #AHCA can make a big difference if you live in a strong Clinton county vs. strong Trump county via @ABC analysis. pic.twitter.com/eQlzaC8WEI

— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) March 23, 2017

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Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, R-Calif., does not know "for sure" whether President Donald Trump or members of his transition team were even on the
phone calls or other communications now being cited as partial vindication for the president’s wiretapping claims against the Obama administration, according to a spokesperson.

"He said he'll have to get all the documents he requested from the [intelligence community] about this before he knows for sure," a spokesperson for Nunes said Thursday. Nunes was a member of the
Trump transition team executive committee.

At a press conference yesterday, Nunes announced he obtained "dozens of reports" showing the U.S. intelligence community -- through its "normal foreign surveillance" -- "incidentally collected
information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition."

But Nunes never said Trump or any of the president's associates personally participated in the communications that were intercepted.

Nevertheless, Nunes called it a "significant" development, and President Trump later said it "somewhat" vindicated his controversial Tweets two weeks ago alleging that President Obama wiretapped
him and his campaign.

Based on the limited amount of information provided by Nunes so far, it's possible that foreign officials were overheard talking about Trump transition team members, one intelligence official
speculated, as opposed to transition members participating directly in the communications.

It's also possible the information now cited by Nunes came from emails –- not phone calls –- intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies.

"We don't know exactly how it was picked up," Nunes acknowledged yesterday.

U.S. officials who spoke with ABC News said they assume the reports obtained by Nunes are summaries or other accounts of communications collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act.

That section allows the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the phone calls and emails of foreigners located overseas.

While foreigners are targeted by such surveillance, "it's actually unavoidable" that Americans will be caught up in it too, board member Rachel Brand, now nominated to be the number-three at the
Justice Department under President Trump, said at a 2014 hearing of the government's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

In fact, "Congress knew full well when it passed Section 702 that incidental collection of communications of U.S. persons would occur when they're in communication with valid foreign targets,"
Robert Litt, then the Director of National Intelligence's top lawyer, told the board.

"And it's important to note," Litt continued, "that this kind of incidental collection occurs all the time in other contexts. ... When we seize someone's computer, we may find communications with
persons who are not targets."

At his press conference yesterday, Nunes expressed concern that details about the Trump transition members "with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in
intelligence community reporting," and at least some of those people were specifically identified –- or "unmasked" – in intelligence community documents.

But some of the government’s top intelligence officials, speaking at that March 2014 hearing, insisted such information about Americans is closely held and only distributed more widely when
necessary.

"You can only disseminate information about a U.S. person if it is foreign intelligence, or necessary to understand foreign intelligence, or is evidence of a crime" that should be turned over to
the FBI, according to Brad Wiegmann, who’s still a top attorney in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

If it’s "key" for a foreign government to understand that 'Joe Smith' is a threat – that he's a "malicious cyber hacker" for example – "and it was key to know the information, then you might pass
Joe Smith's name," Wiegmann said. "If it was incidentally in the communication but was not pertinent to the information you're trying to convey, then that would be deleted. It would just say ‘U.S.
person.’ It would be blocked out."

So was the U.S. intelligence community spying on the Trump transition team?

"It all depends on one's definition of spying," Nunes said yesterday.

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Image Source Pink/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans are scrambling on Capitol Hill to rewrite their health care bill ahead of an anticipated vote on the measure, which could come as early as Friday morning after it was
postponed on Thursday.

Some Conservatives want -– among other things –- language included in the law to scrap "Essential Health Care Benefits," a key provision in the Affordable Care Act, which mandated that all
insurance plans sold on the individual marketplaces had to cover “essential” items, including:

- Ambulatory patient services

- Emergency services

- Hospitalization

- Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care

- Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment

- Prescription drugs

- Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)

- Laboratory services

- Preventative and wellness services and chronic disease management

- Pediatric services, including oral and vision care

Free-market conservatives have long argued that these regulations are unfair to consumers and raise premiums. Their position is that insurance recipients -- like a young, healthy male -- shouldn't
have to pay for a plan that includes coverage they don't need, like maternity care, particularly if it increases the cost of their plan.

“It's this potpourri of mandated benefits that everyone has to have. We've lost consumer choice,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters during his briefing on Thursday. “The idea
is to instill choice back into the market.”

Spicer suggested that the White House was open to cutting these benefits, but said that everything was still up for negotiation.

Democrats –- and some Republicans –- argue that insurance economics work differently. They say insurance premiums often fall when more people buy into a pool, not just those who are sick or
anticipating the need for coverage for a life event, like pregnancy. In their scenario, everyone chips in, and while only some people need services, everyone is covered just in case.

Before the ACA, consumers sometimes unintentionally bought so-called “junk plans” that did not provide basic benefits. Because those buying coverage on their own have little-to-no leverage, they
can be susceptible to gimmicks or ploys from big carriers. Democrats argued these were important consumer protection regulations and would help drive down costs of better plans.

Democrats argue that a change to mandated benefits would not fly under Senate rules, which only permit budget-related tweaks for the measure to pass with 51 votes, as Republicans have been trying
to do with this “repeal and replace” measure.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters she was very proud that her party included these benefits in the law they passed under president Obama.

“I'll just say that [cutting] essential health benefits means Republicans are making being a woman a preexisting condition again. Stripping guaranteed maternity care is a pregnancy tax pure and
simple. Stripping guaranteed maternity care is a pregnancy tax pure and simple. Worsening the addiction epidemic and making it harder to access mental health care, making it more expensive to be
sick in America,” she said.

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wutwhanfoto/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on the GOP’s health care bill says that the revised version would have similar effects on health insurance coverage and
premiums, and a smaller effect on reducing the federal deficit than initially predicted.

The CBO’s initial estimate, released last Monday, projected that 14 million people more people would be uninsured next year than would be under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. That number
was estimated to rise to 24 million by 2026. The new report states of the revised version that "estimates differ by no more than half a million people in any category in any year over the next
decade."

Republican supporters of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) were quick to focus on the CBO's calculation that the law would eventually reduce the deficit by $337 billion over the next decade in
the initial version of the bill. However, that number has now been reduced by $186 billion to $151 billion in deficit reduction over the 2017-2026 period in the revised version.

The new report is adjusted for the changes House Republicans made to the AHCA bill late Monday night.

The House vote on the AHCA, originally scheduled for Thursday, has been delayed and is expected to take place Friday morning.

The White House is "confident" that the bill will pass, according to deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

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Joe Raedle/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Justice is investigating Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., for potentially violating campaign finance laws by using tens of thousands in those funds for personal use,
according to the House Committee on Ethics.

In a statement released Wednesday, Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., and Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the chairwoman and ranking member of the committee, explained that they are deferring their investigation at the request of the DOJ. Hunter has denied any intentional wrongdoing.

According to a House ethics report, Hunter allegedly "may have converted tens of thousands of dollars of campaign funds from his congressional campaign committee to personal use to pay for family
travel, flights, utilities, healthcare, school uniforms and tuition, jewelry, groceries, and other goods, services and expenses."

Among the campaign expenses that may have raised Ethics Committee eyebrows -- a $600 charge to campaign credit card to buy an airline ticket to transport the family's pet rabbit, as reported by the
San Diego Tribune in January.

CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a complaint about Hunter's expenses with the Congressional Ethics office in April and also requested an audit by the Federal
Election Commission.

The group pointed to payments that included a purchase for hundreds of dollars at a jewelry store in Florence, Italy billed as "food/beverages."

"This is the most egregious Congressional spending scandal since Aaron Schock,” CREW said in a statement. Schock, a Republican congressman from Illinois who resigned, was indicted last year for
wire fraud and other charges, which his lawyer called "made-up allegations," according to the New York Times. Schock has not yet been tried in court.

The attorneys for Hunter, Elliot S. Berke and Gregory A. Vega, said in a statement that Hunter and his wife learned about his campaign committee's expenditures issues last year and "out of an
abundance of caution" repaid the committee "approximately $60,000."

"Congressman Hunter intends to cooperate fully with the government on this investigation, and maintains that to the extent any mistakes were made they were strictly inadvertent and unintentional,"
Hunter's attorneys said in a statement.

While the committee's report on Hunter does not indicate any violation of the law, the House Ethics Committee is strict on how members can use campaign money, specifically saying "members have no
discretion whatsoever to convert campaign funds to personal use."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The fate of House Republicans' health care plan remains up in the air as it heads for a vote in the House later Thursday, the timing of which has yet to be announced.

Despite Wednesday’s late-night negotiations and personal pitches from President Trump, the list of "no" votes against the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is growing.

At least 30 Republicans have said they will oppose the bill in its current form, according to ABC News’ latest whip count, meaning Republicans could fall at least nine votes short. The GOP needs 216 votes for a simple majority to pass the bill in the House.

House Republicans planned to hold a full conference meeting sometime Thursday as a final huddle before Thursday night's crucial vote. And Trump will make his last-minute sales pitch to conservative House Freedom Caucus members at the White House.

As the clock ticks, the House still awaits the Congressional Budget Office's new score for the bill, evaluating its budgetary effect, which is expected at some point before the House vote.

A series of meetings on Capitol Hill about the plan went late into the evening, but no deal was reached. The House Freedom Caucus met to discuss potential alterations to the bill’s text and also reached no agreement.

But as House Freedom Caucus members inch closer to achieving changes that could sway them to support the bill, the House risks losing moderates’ votes.

Nearly two dozen moderate lawmakers burned the midnight oil, gathering in House Speaker Paul Ryan's office to hash out the plan. After nearly two hours, most of those lawmakers sneaked out of his office, avoiding the media.

One prominent moderate, Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., the leader of the moderate Tuesday Group, released a statement announcing his opposition to the bill after attending that meeting. Earlier Wednesday, a handful of moderates had already said they would not support the measure.

In a sign of the chaos on Capitol Hill Thursday, Republican leaders abruptly canceled a 9 a.m. conference meeting, catching some members by surprise.

"My party intends to bring forth an agreed-to bill that we will be able to show to the American people, and we will own it," House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said on the House floor Thursday morning as the chamber debated the procedural rule to bring a bill to the floor later Thursday.

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US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., apologized to the full House Intelligence Committee Thursday for failing to inform the committee's Democratic ranking member of his findings -- that the intelligence community "incidentally collected" surveillance of Trump's transition team and possibly the president himself -- before he briefed the White House and held a press conference Wednesday.

"I am not confident that he can run this committee," said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who informed reporters that Nunes had apologized in a closed door meeting. A second Democratic member Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, corroborated the story.

Nunes has refused to share the source of his information with the committee. Speier said she believes Nunes obtained it "either from the White House or possibly by someone associated with the White House."

Earlier Thursday, Nunes told reporters that his decision not to alert ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., before talking to the media was his "judgment call."

"I mean, there was a lot going on yesterday and it was a judgment call on my part ... at the end of the day, sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the wrong one, but you've got to stick by the decisions you make," Nunes said.

Nunes' decision to brief the White House comes during the House intelligence committee's investigation into Russia's meddling in the U.S. election and any alleged connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The committee is also investigating potential leaks by the intelligence community.

During his press conference Wednesday, Nunes stressed that the communications "incidentally collected" had nothing to do with Russia. He also said the surveillance was legally collected under a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrant.

Schiff said Thursday he was "blindsided but mostly just mystified" by Nunes' actions Wednesday.

"He's having difficulty separating his role as a surrogate for the administration, with his role as a committee chairman that has to do a very important -- arguably pivotally important investigation," Schiff said in an interview on ABC's The View Thursday. "He can't do both roles. It compromises the work we're doing."

Schiff declined to answer whether Nunes apologized to him and the other committee members, only adding that "we shared our concerns with the chair and the majority about what happened yesterday and how the investigation is being conducted."

Schiff said he and his members still have not seen the report Nunes has read.

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Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate’s top Democrat dealt a critical blow to the confirmation process of President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, by vowing to invoke a filibuster that would force Republicans to earn 60 votes to end debate in the Senate before Gorsuch can be confirmed.

“After careful deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday. “His nomination will have a cloture vote, he will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation.”

Democrats have threatened to force any of Trump’s Supreme Court nominees to clear procedural hurdles since last year. But Republicans have vowed that Gorsuch would be confirmed no matter what, even if it meant controversial changes to Senate rules.

Throughout his confirmation hearing, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee repeatedly hit Gorsuch for his refusal to comment on his personal philosophies behind controversial rulings he had delivered as a federal judge on the Tenth Circuit.

“Judge Gorsuch was unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check on a president who has shown almost no restraint from executive overreach,” Schumer said. “Second, he was unable to convince me that he would be a mainstream justice who could rule free from the biases of politics and ideology.”

“My vote will be no, and I urge my colleagues to do the same,” Schumer added.

But Republicans have the option of going “nuclear,” a colloquial term used to describe changing the longstanding precedent surrounding confirmation of presidential nominees and reducing the required number of votes from 60 to a simple majority of 51.

Under Senate rules, three-fifths of senators are required to vote in favor of ending debate, or for cloture. But in 2013, Senate Democrats employed a series of procedural maneuvers to change that requirement to a simple majority, or 51 votes, for all Cabinet-level and judicial nominations -- except for those to the Supreme Court.

The elimination of the three-fifths threshold became known as the nuclear option.

Facing a confirmation fight over a judge for whom Democrats have pledged to require 60 votes -- votes Republicans might not have -- GOP senators are considering changing the threshold for approving Supreme Court justice nominees to 51 votes.

“To my Republican friends who think that if Judge Gorsuch fails to reach 60 votes we ought to change the rules I say: If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes, a bar met by each of President [Barack] Obama’s nominees, and President [George W.] Bush’s last two nominees, the answer isn’t to change the rules -- it’s to change the nominee,” Schumer said.

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