10 things you need to know today March 13, 2017

House Republicans brace for CBO report on ObamaCare replacement, the Northeast braces for a powerful snowstorm, and more

GOP leaders
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

1. Republicans brace for CBO report on ObamaCare replacement proposal

Aides to President Trump on Sunday questioned the credibility of the Congressional Budget Office as Republicans braced for the nonpartisan agency to issue a report concluding that the House Republican plan to replace ObamaCare will leave fewer Americans with health insurance. The CBO is expected to issue its estimate of the cost and other implications of the proposed legislation as soon as Monday, but White House budget director Mick Mulvaney and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn said the CBO should focus on health care affordability rather than the number of insured. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday that he fully expects the CBO analysis to say the ranks of the uninsured would grow under the proposal, which would eliminate the requirement to buy insurance. His statement contradicted Trump's promise to replace ObamaCare with a plan offering "insurance for everybody."

The Associated Press Reuters

2. National Weather Service warns of powerful Northeast snowstorm

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for northern New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and New York starting Monday evening, as a powerful late-winter nor'easter approached, threatening to dump up to 18 inches of snow in some areas, with parts of Massachusetts possibly getting up to two feet of snow on Tuesday. Much of the rest of the Northeast is under a blizzard watch. AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines said anyone in the affected areas without a good reason to go out should "prepare for the worst" and stay at home. "It's going to be a ferocious storm from New Jersey on up to New England," Kines said.

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NJ.com The Boston Globe

3. McCain calls for Trump to produce wiretapping evidence

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday called on President Trump to produce evidence to support his claim that former President Barack Obama had Trump Tower bugged, or take back the accusation. "I think the president has one of two choices: Either retract or to provide the information that the American people deserve, because, if his predecessor violated the law, President Obama violated the law, we have got a serious issue here, to say the least," McCain said. The heads of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), sent the Justice Department a letter last week giving the Trump administration until Monday to turn over any evidence it has to support Trump's explosive claim that Obama had Trump's New York City headquarters wiretapped during the presidential campaign.

CNN The Associated Press

4. Biden urges tech innovators to help beat cancer

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday called on technology innovators to work on ending cancer. "Your generation could be the first generation on Earth that goes through life with a completely different understanding of cancer as preventable … instead of a death sentence," Biden told a crowd of 1,000. Biden, whose son, Beau Biden, died of brain cancer two years ago, led the Obama administration's Moonshot Cancer initiative, and said that the effort had contributed to advances but faced numerous obstacles to speeding up cancer research. "You're the future," he told the crowd. "We need your help."

USA Today

5. Bharara reportedly declined courtesy call from Trump

President Trump tried to call U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of New York two days before firing him to "thank him for his service," but Bharara declined to take the call because he didn't have his superiors' approval, a U.S. law enforcement official said Sunday. Bharara was one of 46 prosecutors who were Obama administration holdovers that the Justice Department asked to resign to make way for Trump administration appointees, a routine process. Bharara's inclusion on the list was a surprise, because Trump had asked him in November to stay on. Last week three watchdog groups asked Bharara to move to prevent the Trump Organization from business with foreign governments that could benefit Trump.


6. GOP congressman sparks controversy with praise for far-right Dutch politician

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) faced a backlash Sunday after retweeting a message endorsing Geert Wilders, a far-right candidate for Dutch prime minister, saying that Wilders "understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." Wilders wants to end Muslim immigration, and critics said King's statement amounted to an endorsement of white nationalism. King last July angered critics by saying that white Christians have contributed more to Western civilization than any other "subgroup." Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean called King "a total ignoramus and no one takes him seriously."

USA Today The New York Times

7. Death toll rises in Ethiopia garbage landslide

The death toll from a garbage landslide in Ethiopia rose to at least 48 people on Sunday, and authorities said they feared more fatalities. A resident of the area said there were about 150 people there when the landslide occurred on Saturday, and dozens of people remained missing Sunday as rescuers continue to search the scene on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, the East African nation's capital. Hundreds of people scavenge the landfill to make a living, and several makeshift homes were buried in the landslide. One belonged to the family of Tebeju Asres. "My mother and three of my sisters were there when the landslide happened," he said. "Now I don't know the fate of all of them."

BBC News The Associated Press

8. Oil prices fall to lowest level in three months

Oil prices fell by roughly one percent early Monday, hitting their lowest level in three months as U.S. drillers added oil rigs for the eighth straight week. The news of the additional rigs came after crude inventories jumped by 8.2 million barrels last week in the U.S., the world's biggest oil consumer. The swelling inventories have dragged down prices, offsetting the effect of production cuts agreed to by OPEC and other major oil producers aiming to ease a global glut.


9. Bus crashes into pedestrian parade in Haiti, killing 38

A bus plowed into a crowd of people, mostly musicians, celebrating the festive Rara season in the Haitian city of Gonaives on Sunday, killing 38 people. The bus, carrying passengers from Cap-Haitien on the Caribbean nation's northern coast to the capital city of Port-au-Prince, reportedly struck two people outside Gonaives, killing one instantly, and kept going. It then encountered a Rara band marching slowly down the highway, and plowed through it, then drove through two more bands. The driver fled on foot.


10. Villanova takes overall No. 1 seed in men's NCAA basketball tournament

The defending national champion Villanova Wildcats took the No. 1 overall seed in the 2017 NCAA men's basketball tournament, as the brackets were unveiled on Sunday. The other three No. 1 seeds were Kansas, North Carolina, and Gonzaga. Villanova, taking the top spot for the third time in school history, will play Thursday in Buffalo against the winner of the Mount St. Mary's and New Orleans game. If Villanova breezes through the early rounds it could face an Elite Eight matchup against East Region No. 2 seed Duke, which won the ACC tournament with four victories over strong teams in four days. The Final Four will be held April 1 and 3 in Phoenix.


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.