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Republican lawmakers propose more conservative Obamacare fix

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Two prominent Republican lawmakers from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Tuesday proposed short-term measures to stabilize Obamacare health insurance markets that would compete with bipartisan legislation under discussion in the Senate.

The proposal outlined by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Republican Representative Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, includes provisions to suspend requirements for individuals and employers to buy health coverage under former President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

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The recommendations appear to address many of the Trump administration’s objections to a short-term fix drafted by senators Lamar Alexander, a Republican, and Patty Murray, a Democrat. Democrats are likely to oppose such changes as undermining the viability of Obamacare’s subsidized insurance market for individuals.

Like the bipartisan proposal, the Hatch-Brady fix would reinstate billions of dollars in subsidy payments to insurers that Trump jettisoned earlier this month. Insurers say they had to raise monthly premium rates by 20 percent on average for 2018 to account for the lost subsidies, but could reduce consumers costs if they are restored.

“It is encouraging to see a growing consensus that Congress should fund the cost-sharing reduction payments for two more years,” Alexander said in response.

But the Hatch-Brady legislation would also repeal the individual mandate, or requirement that everyone purchase health insurance or else pay a fine, from 2017 to 2021. It would retroactively repeal the employer mandate from 2015 to 2017 and introduce restrictions on abortion that have yet to be detailed.

Health industry experts and Democrats say the individual and employer mandates are critical to making Obamacare work.

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Murray called on the Senate to move forward with the deal she has worked on with Alexander “and move away from partisan dysfunction on healthcare,” which she said could take health coverage away from millions of people.

The Alexander-Murray bill is expected to have the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate, but it is not clear whether it could find enough support in the House. President Donald Trump initially expressed support for the deal, but has since insisted it include more far-reaching provisions toward repealing Obamacare.

(Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb, additional reporting by Susan Cornwell in Washington; editing by Michele Gershberg and Susan Thomas)

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Chief Justice Roberts admonishes lawyers at Senate impeachment trial

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Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Roberts made his first major intervention in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday morning.

After House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) finished his closing arguments on why former National Security Advisor John Bolton should testify, the White House team went on the attack. Yelling and demanding apologies, the president's team was more animated than they'd been all night. Roberts then admonished the House and White House on their language.

Claiming the Senate is the "world's greatest deliberative body" -- despite what he had witnessed during 12 hours of the impeachment trial -- Roberts complained about language that was "not conducive to civil discourse."

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White House lawyers begin yelling at Democrats during late-night impeachment trial — after Trump starts tweeting

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President Donald Trump woke up and began tweeting around midnight EST during the Senate impeachment trial over the amendments over the rules. That's when a noticeable thing changed on the Senate floor: Trump's team started yelling.

Nearing 1 a.m. EST Tuesday morning while the president was tweeting about impeachment, his team began attacking Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) personally. They called him a liar and accused him of attacking the president and demanded an apology. After nearly 12 hours this was the first time the White House got even remotely animated after a dull defense of the president.

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2020 Election

Mick Mulvaney released treasure trove of OMB documents — 2 minutes before midnight

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Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney released a huge cache of documents on Tuesday evening -- minutes before the midnight deadline.

The documents were released to the ethics group American oversight, which had pursued a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the department.

"Two minutes before midnight, OMB released 192 pages of Ukraine-related records to American Oversight, including emails that have not been previously released," American Oversight announced.

"The files released tonight include emails sent by OMB Acting Director Russell Vought and Assoc Director for National Security Michael Duffey — two key players in the withholding of Ukraine aid — in on the morning of President Trump’s July 25 call with President Zelensky," the ethics group noted.

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