Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 24, 2017

Trump calls for do-or-die House vote on ObamaCare replacement, police identify London attacker as U.K.-born Muslim convert, and more


House delays health vote as Trump calls for do-or-die Friday showdown

The House's Republican leaders postponed a Thursday vote on their proposal to repeal and replace ObamaCare to give President Trump time to find a compromise with conservatives who are vowing to push it farther to the right or defeat it. Trump offered on Thursday to drop key mandates from the current law, but conservatives insisted on more concessions. The chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), said talks were ongoing. President Trump issued recalcitrant Republicans an ultimatum, telling them to pass the GOP health-care legislation on Friday or reject it, leaving ObamaCare in place while he moves on to other priorities.


Trump issues permit approving Keystone XL pipeline construction

The Trump administration issued a presidential permit on Friday approving the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. President Trump had earlier signed an executive order to move the project forward, arguing that the pipeline would create thousands of jobs. The $8 billion pipeline has faced fierce protest from environmental activists, who point to its use of Alberta's carbon-laden tar sands as a contributor to climate change. "We cannot let the Trump administration undo the progress that people all over the country have made to ensure we avoid catastrophic climate change," said Greenpeace's Diana Best. Former President Obama blocked the project in 2015, claiming it would contribute to climate change and would not reduce fuel prices for American drivers.


British police identify London attacker as British-born Muslim convert

London authorities on Thursday identified the attacker who killed four people outside British Parliament as Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old native of England with a long criminal record. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the assault, which left police officer Keith Palmer, a British schoolteacher Aysha Frade, American tourist Kurt Cochran of Utah, and 75-year-old Leslie Rhodes dead, and more than 40 others injured. Armed officers also fatally shot Masood, a Muslim convert born Adrian Russell Ajao, after he allegedly plowed through pedestrians on a bridge, then fatally stabbing the police officer. "An act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy," Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament, which was briefly locked down on Wednesday. "We are not afraid, and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism."


Schumer vows to vote against Neil Gorsuch, calls for filibuster

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that he would vote against confirming Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and encouraged his fellow Democrats to filibuster to block a vote. "[Gorsuch] will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation. My vote will be 'no' and I urge my colleagues to do the same," Schumer said, adding that Gorsuch is "not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology." Senate hearings on Gorsuch's nomination concluded Thursday, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is aiming for an April 3 vote to confirm Gorsuch.


CBO says GOP health plan amendments reduce cost savings

The Congressional Budget Office on Thursday released a revised report on the House GOP's plan to replace ObamaCare, factoring in amendments made since the original report two weeks ago. The updated assessment concluded that the legislation now would reduce the deficit by $150 billion over 10 years, down from $337 billion, but still would add 24 million more people to the ranks of the uninsured by 2026. The CBO's original report estimated the American Health Care Act would leave 52 million uninsured by 2026, compared to just 28 million under ObamaCare. Premiums would still be expected to jump by 15 to 20 percent at first, then gradually fall to 10 percent lower than under ObamaCare.


Hosni Mubarak freed 6 years after ousting by Arab Spring protesters

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 88, was freed Friday from imprisonment, six years after he was ousted from his three-decade reign by Arab Spring protesters. Mubarak's fall had once been seen as a hopeful model of Arab citizens holding their leaders accountable for human rights abuses and corruption, only for Mubarak's example to eventually fizzle out in court, where he received just one conviction on a minor corruption charge. "At this point, I really don't care," said activist Ahmed Harara, who lost sight in both eyes after being shot by police in the 2011 Cairo protests. "I realized years ago that this is not just about Mubarak and his regime — it's an entire system that has now resurrected itself."


House intel chair apologizes for going straight to Trump with monitoring claim

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Thursday apologized for not informing the panel's ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, before going public with allegations that intelligence agencies may have inadvertently intercepted Trump transition team communications during the course of normal foreign spying. Nunes, a member of the Trump transition team executive committee, went to the White House to share the information with President Trump. Schiff said Nunes' actions were "wholly inappropriate," and called into question his "ability to conduct an independent investigation."


Israel arrests teen suspect in U.S. Jewish center threats

Israeli authorities on Thursday arrested a teenage hacker with dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship on suspicion that he was behind most of the recent threats against Jewish community centers in the U.S. The 18-year-old teenager has not been charged yet, but Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said authorities are confident the suspect was responsible for a wave of threats in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, including at least one against an airline flight, that have fueled fears of a surge of anti-Semitism. "This is the guy we are talking about," Rosenfeld said. A lawyer for the teen said he suffers from a brain tumor that can affect his behavior.


Canadian school board ends students' U.S. trips over Trump travel ban

The Toronto District School Board, which runs Canada's largest school system, said Thursday that it would stop scheduling student trips to the U.S. to shield students from "potentially being turned away at the border." The school board, which serves about 245,000 public school students, said it would let 24 scheduled U.S. trips proceed, but bring all of the students home if one is turned away. The move came in reaction to President Trump's temporarily blocked travel bans aiming to keep people from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. "We're committed as a school board to equity, inclusiveness, and fairness," said board chair Robin Pilkey, "and it's not appropriate that some students would not be able to attend based on their country of birth."


Xavier upsets Arizona on first day of Sweet 16

Xavier, a No. 11 seed, upset No. 2 seeded Arizona, 73-71, on Thursday on the first day of the Sweet 16 in the men's NCAA basketball tournament. The Musketeers are the lone double-digit seed left. Gonzaga, a No. 1 seed, held off West Virginia, a No. 4 seed, to earn its spot in the Elite Eight, which begins Saturday. Top-seeded Kansas trounced Purdue and Oregon narrowly beat Michigan to advance. The Sweet 16 continues on Friday to determine the remaining four teams making it into the Elite Eight, with Wisconsin playing Florida, Kansas playing UCLA, Baylor squaring off against South Carolina, and UNC facing Butler.


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