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March 10, 2017
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The Republican Party's mad dash to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a new law, the American Health Care Act, is being driven by two big, related considerations: the calendar, and the Senate's budget "reconciliation" rules, which allow the Senate to pass certain pieces of legislation with a simple majority. The AHCA was written narrowly to fit within the constraints of the reconciliation rules, and whether it does will be partly determined by how much the Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill will cost.

Without reconciliation, the already endangered bill won't clear the Senate. Without major changes to satisfy GOP conservatives, it may not pass the House. President Trump and some congressional Republicans have come up with a solution to this conundrum: Ignore the CBO and overrule the Senate parliamentarian, who determines which measures can be passed through the reconciliation maneuver, as long as 60 senators don't overrule her advice. This wouldn't be so much "working the refs" as ignoring them, and it would likely throw Congress into chaos.

The CBO — led by Republican appointee Keith Hall — is expected to estimate that the AHCA increases the budget deficit and cuts at least 15 million people off health insurance. The new GOP line is that CBO economists and statisticians can be ignored because their projections just aren't very good. Their main exhibit: The CBO score for ObamaCare. "If you're looking to the CBO for accuracy, you're looking in the wrong place," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) made a similar argument on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. (The CBO's ACA projections were actually "reasonably accurate," according to a 2015 Commonwealth Fund report.)

"I have no idea what the CBO report will say," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), "but I find it amusing that the right-wing Trump administration would try to cast doubt about the integrity of that report when it was the right-wing Republicans who handpicked its director."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and House conservatives, meanwhile, are arguing that Vice President Mike Pence, in his role as presiding officer of the Senate, can simply override any unfavorable reconciliation ruling by parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough. Cruz said he's been discussing that plan, which would allow the GOP to scrap things like ObamaCare's ban of discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, with "a number of my colleagues." Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and vice chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) promoted the idea with Trump over lunch on Thursday.

It's not clear if either of these maneuvers will work, but that's where the fight is going. Peter Weber

September 22, 2017
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

September 22, 2017

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

September 22, 2017

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

September 22, 2017

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

September 22, 2017
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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

September 22, 2017

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

September 22, 2017

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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