Trump wants to boost defense spending by 10% and cut social spending

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A look at President Trump’s administration and the rest of Washington:

As the healthcare vote looms, Trump sees opposition from conservatives, both on Capitol Hill and in the media

It’s a really important vote in President Trump’s fledgling first term.

Will House Republicans pass a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — a promise from Trump on the campaign trail — or reject it? (House Speaker Paul D. Ryan rushed to the White House on Friday morning for a last-minute meeting with Trump as both attempted to corral enough votes.)

Trump spent much of the week trying to win support from members of the Freedom Caucus, among the most conservative lawmakers, some of whom are holdouts because they believe the bill does not go far enough.

“After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!” Trump tweeted Friday.

But even some in conservative media aren’t all that thrilled about the bill.

Here are some of Friday’s headlines:

Polls: Ryancare even more unpopular than Obamacare and Hillarycare (Breitbart)

So, it’s been clear in recent weeks that the right-wing website Breitbart does not like the new healthcare proposal.

The news site has dubbed the current bill Obamacare-lite or Ryancare — an homage of sorts to Ryan, who helped craft the legislation — and argued it does not go far enough in its overhaul.

Most conservatives want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, nicknamed Obamacare, they just differ on what the replacement should look like. For example, some on the far right want to see so-called “essential health benefits,” such as maternity and newborn care, stripped from the bill.)

This piece highlights several of the dismal polls the legislation has received.

Among them: A recent Fox News survey that showed 54% oppose the bill, compared with 34% who support it. The article also references an analysis of polling and data by, which shows the GOP legislation is more unpopular than Obamacare and President Bill Clinton’s healthcare reform bill were when they were first introduced.

A modest immigration proposal (Weekly Standard)

Trump’s recent immigration orders have left many immigrants on edge.

Through social media and pop-up legal clinics, immigrant rights groups have doled out around-the-clock assistance, as families fear being separated.

In this piece, Irwin Stelzer notes that “at some point, our border will be secure, resistance to deporting felons will collapse, and we will have accepted the fact that Dreamers will be allowed to stay in this country, probably on a path to citizenship.”

He lays out his views of immigration reform, citing, among other things, setting an annual immigration limit and adopting “a system that has the effect of enriching our citizens by filling that annual quota with immigrants who are likely to increase the well-being of the existing citizenry.”

Jeff Sessions is Rip Van Winkle on drug policy (American Conservative)

It’s clear from polls that most Republicans oppose marijuana legalization, while Democrats support it.

However, libertarian-leaning Republicans often tend to support legalization.

This piece highlights Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions’ recent comments in opposition to states legalizing pot.

“The attorney general regurgitates simplistic clichés right out of the 1970s and 1980s about marijuana use. ‘I don’t think America is going to be a better place when people of all ages, and particularly young people, are smoking pot,’ Sessions told reporters on February 26,” the author, Ted Galen Carpenter, writes.

He adds, “Such comments confirm that critics may be right when they label him a ‘drug war dinosaur.’ He seems either oblivious or scornful about the trend in public opinion regarding marijuana.”

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FCC Chairman Pai wants to halt Internet privacy rules before they begin taking effect this week

(Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)

The nation’s new top telecommunications regulator wants to halt tough Internet privacy rules before they begin taking effect this week, arguing they would unfairly impose tougher requirements on broadband providers than on websites and social networks.

Privacy advocates and a key Senate Democrat vowed Monday to fight the move as well as a separate effort in Congress to overturn the regulations, which were approved in October on a party-line vote by the Federal Communications Commission when it was controlled by Democrats under President Obama.

Following President Trump’s inauguration, control of the commission passed to Republicans and Ajit Pai took over as chairman.

“All actors in the online space should be subject to the same rules, and the federal government shouldn’t favor one set of companies over another,” a spokesman for Pai said Friday.

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Trump says Hollywood’s obsession with him led to best picture Oscar gaffe

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

President Trump is often loath to accept responsibility when things go wrong, but in the case of Sunday’s Oscars broadcast, he made an exception.

As he explained it Monday, it was Hollywood’s obsession with attacking him that contributed to the botched best picture announcement, calling the embarrassing episode “sad,” of course.

Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has apologized for the mix-up that led Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to announce “La La Land” as the winner of the top Academy Award prize, instead of “Moonlight.”

But in Trump’s eyes, the blame falls more broadly on an entertainment industry so preoccupied with politics that they “didn’t get the act together,” he told Breitbart News.

“It took away from the glamour of the Oscars,” Trump told a reporter from the website, which was once led by his chief White House strategist, Stephen K. Bannon.

“It didn’t feel like a very glamorous evening. I’ve been to the Oscars. There was something very special missing, and then to end that way was sad,” he added.

The ceremony did contain a number of slights at Trump during its telecast, some more subtle than others. Host Jimmy Kimmel openly at one point begged the president to weigh in by tweeting at him.

Trump spent part of Sunday night hosting a black-tie dinner at the White House honoring the nation’s governors, who were visiting Washington for their annual winter meeting. But it appears from excerpts of the Breitbart interview that he may have spent at least part of the evening watching.

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Justice Department shifts course in closely watched Texas voter ID case

The Trump administration has scaled back its assault on a strict Texas voter identification law that federal courts have ruled discriminated against minorities, portending a shift in how the Justice Department plans to pursue allegations of voter suppression.

The government revealed its decision in court papers filed in federal court Monday, dealing a blow to civil rights advocates who have relied on federal support to help them knock down the controversial Texas statute.

“It’s a very concerning signal to American voters about the Department of Justice’s commitment to enforcing the Voting Rights Act,” said Danielle Lang, deputy director of the voting rights unit of the Campaign Legal Center, which is suing Texas in the case.

The administration’s partial retreat in the dispute highlights how Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, a conservative Republican who has championed voter identification measures, is expected to handle such cases. The Obama administration had joined civil rights groups in aggressively challenging the Texas law and other such measures around the country.

At issue in the case was how the Justice Department would proceed in a federal lawsuit that alleged the Texas legislature discriminated against minority voters when it enacted the strict voter identification law in 2011.

Known as SB 14, the measure requires voters to present a specific form of government-issued photo identification - such as a driver’s license, military ID card, U.S. passport or citizenship certificate - to be permitted to cast a ballot.

The Obama administration and civil rights groups argued the state pushed the law, in part, to suppress the power of the state’s minority voters, who frequently don’t drive or have a passport.

State officials and lawmakers countered that the law was aimed at preventing voter fraud, though there is scant evidence that the problem exists.

The law was challenged in court by civil rights groups and the Justice Department under provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was intended to help overcome legal barriers erected at the local and state level to keep African-Americans from the polls.

Last July, a federal appeals court ruled that the Texas law had a discriminatory impact on minority voters. It told U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos to craft a temporary remedy in time for the November elections.

Ramos subsequently ordered Texas to permit voters to present other forms of documentation to verify their identities. The judge’s order is expected to remain in force until she imposes a permanent remedy or Texas addresses the judges’ concerns.

According to the court papers filed Monday, the Justice Department will continue to work with civil rights groups to address those issues but will seek to withdraw from another important aspect of the suit.

In the same decision that found the Texas law had a discriminatory impact, the appeals court reversed Ramos’ finding that Texas legislators had intended to harm minority voters.

It ordered Ramos to reconsider the evidence of that finding.

If the judge determines discriminatory intent in crafting the voter ID requirements, she could throw out the entire law. Civil rights groups will continue to press that claim.

In its court filing, the Justice Department asked Ramos to permit it to withdraw its claim that Texas acted with intent, arguing that it is best to give the Texas legislature time to address the matter.

With the loss of their key ally in court, civil rights groups will argue on their own in an effort to prove that Texas acted with a discriminatory purpose in passing the law. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Voting advocates complained that the Trump administration was backing away from a key safeguard of voting rights.

The Justice Department decision “defies rationality and stands diametrically opposed to positions they have taken at every stage of this litigation,” Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement. “This reversal of position was taken despite years of work and effort that the government has invested in fighting the Texas Voter ID law, one of the most discriminatory voting restriction of its kind.”

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House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes warns against ‘witch hunt’ over Trump-Russia ties

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) talks to reporters about his committee's Russia investigation.
(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes said on Monday he has seen no evidence from the intelligence community that there was contact between Russia and the Trump campaign.

“I want to be very careful, we can’t just go on a witch hunt against Americans because they appear in a news story,” said Nunes (R-Tulare). “We still don’t have any evidence of them talking to Russia.”

He said the committee has been briefed on the “highlights” of what the intelligence community has found, but is still collecting evidence.

The committee’s ranking Democrat, Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), quickly responded, saying the committee’s investigation is in its “infancy” and it’s too soon to reach conclusions about the evidence.

“We haven’t obtained any of the evidence yet, so it’s premature for us to be saying we’ve reached any conclusion about the issue of collusion,” Schiff said. “The most that we’ve had are private conversations, the chair and I with intelligence officials. That’s not a substitute for an investigation.”

The House and Senate Select Intelligence Committees are conducting separate investigations into Russia’s reported attempts to influence voters in 2016 in an effort to curtail Hillary Clinton’s chances and boost Donald Trump’s. A leaked U.S. intelligence report on the attempts did not look at whether the effort succeeded.

The House committee has expanded a previous ongoing investigation of Russia cyberhacking to include a look at efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, Nunes told reporters Monday. Though it is still in its early stages — the leaders of the committee are still discussing the investigation’s scope — Nunes said he expects the findings to be made public.

Schiff and Nunes spoke separately to reporters Monday. Schiff said the two agreed privately that they would jointly address reporters about the investigation going forward.

Nunes, who served as a member of Trump’s transition team, said he continues to be concerned about leaks of classified and sensitive information from the White House and intelligence communities. The leaks — one of which resulted in a report about the FBI investigating Trump campaign officials — will be part of the committee’s investigation.

“A government can’t function with massive leaks at the highest level,” Nunes said.

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Appeals court denies Justice Department request to put appeal of travel ban on hold