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March 10, 2017

Things can get pretty loopy when Congress debates a bill for more than 12 hours straight — Wednesday night, for example, the House Ways and Means Committee featured a debate about taxing ice cream and sunlight. Over at the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the other panel getting a first crack at the GOP's health-care bill, the debate lasted 27 hours, and while there was no discussion of solar taxation, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) did have a little debate about à la carte health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are proposing to replace, requires health insurance plans to cover certain core benefits, like hospital care, prescription drugs, and pregnancy and childbirth. Republicans were complaining about ObamaCare's "mandates," and Doyle asked GOP committee members to name one mandate they take issue with. “What about men having to purchase prenatal care?” Shimkus offered. "Is that not correct? And should they?"

This is not the first time House Republicans have asked about men having to buy maternity coverage, The Washington Post notes, and it isn't always men asking. Nancy Metcalf, an insurance expert and Consumer Reports columnist, answered the question in 2013:

Health insurance, like all insurance, works by pooling risks. The healthy subsidize the sick, who could be somebody else this year and you next year. Those risks include any kind of health care a person might need from birth to death — prenatal care through hospice. No individual is likely to need all of it, but we will all need some of it eventually.

So, as a middle-aged childless man you resent having to pay for maternity care or kids' dental care. Shouldn't turnabout be fair play? Shouldn't pregnant women and kids be able to say, "Fine, but in that case why should we have to pay for your Viagra, or prostate cancer tests, or the heart attack and high blood pressure you are many times more likely to suffer from than we are?" Once you start down that road, it's hard to know where to stop. If you slice and dice risks, eventually you don't have a risk pool at all, and the whole idea of insurance falls apart. [Consumer Reports]

Metcalf's answer also, incidentally, would have been helpful reading for House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said this about ObamaCare on Thursday.

Health care, as President Trump says, is an "unbelievably complex subject." Peter Weber

4:09 p.m. ET
Courtesy image

If your art collection has outgrown your wall space, closet those canvases and install the Depict Frame ($899), a 49-inch screen fashioned like a framed painting. Though it's not the first digital canvas — Samsung's Frame TV also displays art — the image here is superior. Color-­calibrated and coated with a matte finish, the 4K UHD screen is optimized for displaying fine art in sharp detail. Using an app, you can cycle through images in Depict's collection, to which new pieces are added each month. For $20 a month, you can upload your own works, and that subscription also grants access to a curated collection of thousands of paintings. The Week Staff

3:37 p.m. ET

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) friendship won't be ending over a difference of opinion on the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill. Shortly after McCain announced Friday that he would vote against Graham's effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare, Graham tweeted that he respected McCain's opinion, though he disagrees with it:

Graham proceeded to lay out his case for the bill, which he's angling for Republicans to vote on next week:

He ended his series of tweets with a vow to "press on."

Three 'no' votes would kill the bill, and McCain is the second Republican, following Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), to oppose it. Republicans have until Sept. 30 to pass the bill by a simple majority vote. Becca Stanek

3:21 p.m. ET

On any given day, Washington, D.C.'s utility company, Pepco, spends its time concerned about things like power outages and power lines — certainly not domesticated rodents. All that changed when 8-year-old Serenity wrote the company with a "firm, straightforward request" for a hamster, NBC Washington reports.

Serenity had made the understandable mistake of mixing up Pepco with Petco, the pet supply company. She promised in her letter to work extra hard at school and around the house if she could get the pet. "Lest her point be missed, at the bottom of the letter, she drew a hamster that took up half the page," NBC Washington writes.

Despite not exactly being in the hamster business, Pepco decided to surprise Serenity on Friday. Take a look at the photos below. Jeva Lange

2:58 p.m. ET

The National Weather Service of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is reporting an "extremely dangerous situation" due to a dam failure that threatens Isabela Municipality and Quebradillas Municipality in the territory's northwest. "Buses [are] currently evacuating people from the area as quickly as they can," the agency reported, adding: "Move to higher ground now. Act quickly to protect your life."

The flooding follows Hurricane Maria's thrashing of the Caribbean; Puerto Rico remains completely without power, and it's expected to get as much as 35 inches of rain in some areas by Friday. Now a Category 3, Maria was packing winds of up to 125 miles per hour as it slammed the southeastern Bahamas on Friday. Jeva Lange

2:40 p.m. ET
John Moore/Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton's forthcoming political thriller, which he co-authored with bestselling author James Patterson, is headed to the small screen, Variety reported Friday. Showtime has acquired the television rights for The President Is Missing, which won't even be published until 2018.

"Bringing The President Is Missing to Showtime is a coup of the highest order," Showtime president and CEO David Nevins told Variety. "The pairing of President Clinton with fiction's most gripping storyteller promises a kinetic experience, one that the book world has salivated over for months and that now will dovetail perfectly into a politically relevant, character-based action series for our network."

The President Is Missing "will offer readers a unique amalgam of intrigue, suspense, and behind-the-scenes global drama from the highest corridors of power," according to the press release. "It will be informed by insider details that only a president can know." Learn more about the forthcoming TV show at Variety. Jeva Lange

2:24 p.m. ET

Mere minutes after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced he was a "no" on the Graham-Cassidy bill, late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel was tweeting his thanks. Kimmel's rapid response solidified just how invested he is in stopping the GOP health-care bill, which he has been tenaciously criticizing all week.

Though McCain hasn't technically completely killed Republicans' latest attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare, as he did in July when he cast the deciding vote, his opposition nudges the Graham-Cassidy bill that much closer to its demise. Already, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has announced his opposition, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Friday she's "leaning against" voting in favor of the bill.

Three "no" votes would kill the bill, and make Kimmel's day. Becca Stanek

2:12 p.m. ET

In the words of one confused White House official to Politico, "no one is quite sure what [Tom Price] is doing." Trump's health and human services secretary has reportedly exceeded $300,000 in chartered flights since last May, including one befuddling charge of $25,000 for a 135-mile flight from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., on a private jet.

Notably, President Trump campaigned as an enemy of wasteful government spending, even signing an order in March that required "a thorough examination of every executive department and agency, to see where money is being wasted, how services can be improved, and whether programs are truly serving American citizens," in the words of one White House official to the Washington Examiner.

Even more bewildering, Price himself has been an outspoken opponent of wasteful spending, as Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) pointed out Friday:

HHS spokesperson Charmaine Yoest defended Price's flights as necessary. "He has used charter aircraft for official business in order to accommodate his demanding schedule," she told Politico, characterizing his flights on Learjets as evidence of his focus "on hearing from Americans across the country." Jeva Lange

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