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July 17, 2017
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Republicans decided last fall that they would use their unexpected control of the White House and Congress to quickly repeal the Affordable Care Act and move on, but as their replacement legislation faces yet another delay and continued uncertainty in the Senate, it is clearer than ever that President Trump and "many in Congress dramatically underestimated the challenge of rolling back former President Barack Obama's signature achievement," Politico reports.

Congressional GOP aides now point to the lack of experience, vision, and expertise in the slow-starting Trump White House, while White House aides note that congressional Republicans have been promising to repeal and replace ObamaCare since 2010, long before Trump ran for office. But the fissures in the Republican caucus were clear as early as late January, at a closed-door GOP policy retreat in Philadelphia, Politico says:

House Speaker Paul Ryan laid out a three-pronged approach to scrapping ObamaCare. He wanted to repeal as much of the legislation as possible, eliminate more through deregulation, and then work with Democrats on a replacement, said one former Republican aide. Many Republican lawmakers doubted Democrats would work with them on redoing the health-care law.

The president and one of his former campaign rivals also unexpectedly helped undermine the GOP's repeal plans. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on television the GOP needed a replacement plan if it was going to repeal the law. Then Trump endorsed that requirement. Their comments caused GOP leaders to start from scratch. Now that the Senate's attempt to revamp the health-care law has run into roadblocks — with moderates insisting on protecting coverage for their constituents, while conservatives focus on undoing as much of ObamaCare as possible — both Paul and Trump have suggested going back to a repeal-only bill. [Politico]

One White House aide told Politico that if Trump signs a health-care law by August, all this drama will be forgotten. You can read more about the Republican health-care missteps and inflated expectations at Politico. Peter Weber

May 26, 2018

The Trump administration on Friday announced it has made a deal to help a Chinese telecom, ZTE, shuttered by a U.S. Commerce Department export ban. ZTE obtains about one quarter of its manufacturing components from American businesses, and it suspended operations earlier this month after the administration imposed sanctions as a penalty for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

On Twitter Friday evening, Trump used the deal as an avenue to criticize Democrats:

Trump's plan to get ZTE "back into business, fast," as he put it in an initial tweet on the subject earlier this month, has produced widespread confusion given his adversarial stance toward foreign manufacturers on the campaign trail. Some members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have suggested they may attempt to block the new arrangement on national security grounds. Bonnie Kristian

May 26, 2018
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Exit polling and early vote counts indicate a majority of Irish voters have backed the repeal of their country's constitutional ban on abortion. Save the 8th, the campaign supporting retention of the amendment prohibiting abortion, conceded defeat Saturday after Friday's vote, calling the decision "a tragedy of historic proportions."

If the ban is lifted, the Irish Parliament is expected to pass a law legalizing abortion through the 12th week of pregnancy, with exceptions for later abortions if the mother's health is at risk or there is a diagnosis of fatal fetal abnormalities.

Final voting results are expected Saturday afternoon, but with about half of all votes tallied, the repeal side has a strong lead of two-thirds support. Bonnie Kristian

May 26, 2018
South Korean Presidential Blue House/Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in gathered for a surprise meeting Saturday to discuss the fate of inter-Korean relations given the new uncertainty over Kim's proposed summit with President Trump.

The two-hour talks happened in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) bordering the two Koreas and focused on how to keep the Trump-Kim conversation on track. "We see it as fortunate that the embers of dialogue between North Korea and the United States weren't fully extinguished and are coming alive again," said Moon's office. "We are carefully watching the developments."

Trump said Thursday the June 12 summit in Singapore was canceled, only to indicate Friday it may be back on. "We are having very productive talks with North Korea about reinstating the Summit which, if it does happen, will likely remain in Singapore on the same date, June 12th., and, if necessary, will be extended beyond that date," he tweeted Friday evening. Saturday morning, Trump posted another tweet attacking The New York Times and claiming there is "ZERO disagreement within the Trump Administration as to how to deal with North Korea...and if there was, it wouldn't matter." Bonnie Kristian

May 26, 2018
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A science teacher named Jason Seaman stopped a school shooting in his classroom at Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Indiana, on Friday. A boy in the class asked to be excused, returning shortly with two handguns he begin firing in the room. Seaman threw a basketball he was holding at the shooter and then tackled and disarmed him, restraining the student despite being shot three times.

Seaman is "very brave. He's a hero today, and he did something that most people would never dare to do," said student and eyewitness Ethan Stonebraker, age 13. "If it wasn't for him ... a lot of us could have been hurt. He pretty much protected all of us and it's something that you couldn't ask more of."

Seaman and one injured student were hospitalized as the investigation into the attack continues. "I want to let everyone know that I was injured but am doing great," Seaman said in a statement through his wife. "To all the students, you are all wonderful and I thank you for your support. You are the reason I teach."

Police have yet to determine what motivated the shooter or where he obtained the weapons he used. The names of the shooter and the student he injured, a girl, have not been released. President Trump praised Seaman in a tweet Saturday morning, saying his "quick and automatic action is being talked about all over the world!" Bonnie Kristian

May 26, 2018

President Trump on Twitter Saturday morning suggested congressional Democrats are to blame for his administration's policy of separating children from their parents when the family has crossed the border illegally:

The president's critique of the practice of breaking up migrant families is a complete reversal of his own administration's stance. "If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month. "If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border."

Trump's about-face may have been prompted by the outrage the practice has generated in recent days. Public anger was further fueled Friday and Saturday by new attention to a late April report that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is unable to say what happened to 1,475 of 7,635 migrant children it detained, placed with sponsors, and then checked on last fall. The sponsors are typically parents or other family members and are vetted by HHS before the placement is made, but the system is far from perfect: In one case in 2016, migrant minors were handed over to human traffickers running an egg farm.

The Obama administration, which deported more people than any previous presidency, separated some families after illegal border crossings, but more often it placed them, intact, in detention camps to await their court dates. Since the family separation plan was proposed last year, at least 700 children have been taken from their parents. Bonnie Kristian

May 25, 2018
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Summer weather has arrived, and people are evidently planning to make the most of it over the upcoming long weekend.

A huge number of Americans are planning to hit the road over Memorial Day weekend, AAA estimated on Friday. Around 42 million people are expected to take some kind of trip, a 5 percent increase from last year's holiday weekend and the highest estimate in more than a decade.

"A strong economy and growing consumer confidence are giving Americans all the motivation they need to kick off what we expect to be a busy summer travel season with a Memorial Day getaway," said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president at AAA.

About 37 million will be driving to their destination, despite gas prices surging to their highest level in the last four years, reports Reuters. Airfare prices are also slightly down, likely a factor for many of the three million who will be flying for Memorial Day weekend. AAA expects that air travel will see an even bigger jump this year, with a 6.8 percent increase compared to last Memorial Day. Summer Meza

May 25, 2018
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First lady Melania Trump hasn't been seen in public in 15 days, The Washington Post reported Friday, but President Trump says his wife's White House life is business as usual.

Reporters asked Trump about the first lady's absence on Friday, and the president pointed at a White House window, responding that "she's doing great. She's looking at us right there." But Melania was nowhere to be seen.

Melania's unusually long disappearance from public life follows a five-night stay in the hospital for a kidney operation on May 14. She was last seen on May 10. The first lady has had "several internal staff meetings in the past week around a variety of topics, including her initiatives," her spokesperson told the Post, but her office didn't say when Melania would next venture into the public eye.

The first lady hasn't attended several other recent events where she would ordinarily be expected, but according to the president, she's just "doing great" in private, watching her husband interact with reporters from on high in the White House. Summer Meza

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