Republicans

The Republican scramble to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has yielded yet another version of a health care overhaul bill, along with yet another score from the Congressional Budget Office — the second analysis from the nonpartisan agency in two days.

The House budget plan would slash spending by $5.4 trillion over 10 years, including more than $4 trillion in cuts to mandatory spending like Medicaid and Medicare, while ramping up defense spending.

Updated at 2:20 p.m. ET

The defeat of the GOP Senate health care bill is a major blow to all Republicans involved.

President Trump, whose approval rating is lower than any recent president this early in his term, is now staring at an agenda imperiled. Despite his boasts, he has achieved little of significance through Congress. That failure is compounded by the fact that his party controls both chambers.

Senate Republicans would cut Medicaid, end penalties for people not buying insurance and erase a raft of tax increases as part of their long-awaited plan to scuttle President Barack Obama's health care law, congressional aides and lobbyists say.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans will release a discussion draft of their version of the health care bill on Thursday, with a vote likely next week.

Private health care talks have been underway in the Senate for weeks. McConnell tapped a 13-member working group last month to hash out senators' differences over the House-passed American Health Care Act. McConnell's office has since taken the lead drafting the Senate version of the party's long-promised legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

The Republican effort to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has led to a standoff in the Senate.

Senate Democrats on Monday night began using parliamentary maneuvers to slow Senate business as part of a coordinated protest against the GOP push to pass an Obamacare replacement bill. A small group of Republican senators has been working in private for weeks, shielding from public view the bill and the negotiations surrounding it.

Updated at 10 p.m. ET

Polls have closed in the closely watched Montana special election. The race was upended in the final hours following an altercation between the Republican congressional candidate, Greg Gianforte, and a reporter, adding even more uncertainty to an unusually tight contest.

Updated at 3:02 p.m. ET.

The Trump administration says it can balance the federal budget within a decade. Its proposal calls for significant cuts to social safety net programs and assumes more robust economic growth.

The administration released what it calls a "Taxpayer First" budget on Tuesday.

"This is, I think, the first time in a long time that an administration has written a budget through the eyes of the people who are actually paying the taxes," White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters in a briefing on Monday.

Republicans in Congress are calling for briefings and pleading for "less drama" at the White House following revelations that President Trump shared classified intelligence with Russia — but most are muted in their criticism of him.

For the leader of Senate Republicans, the biggest concern is that the controversy over Trump's sharing of secrets — with the successor to what Republican President Ronald Reagan once labeled the "evil empire" — is that it's distracting lawmakers from their legislative program.

The Senate is negotiating its own legislation to repeal and replace much of the Affordable Care Act in secret talks with senators hand-picked by party leaders and with no plans for committee hearings to publicly vet the bill.

"I am encouraged by what we are seeing in the Senate. We're seeing senators leading," said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, one of the 13 Republicans involved in the private talks. "We're seeing senators working together in good faith. We're not seeing senators throwing rocks at each other, either in private or in the press."

At a town hall meeting in Willingboro, N.J., on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur was confronted by angry constituents who demanded to know how the Republican health care bill that he helped write would affect rape victims.

A young man named Joseph said he understood that the bill would allow insurance companies to deem rape a pre-existing condition and deny coverage to people who have been raped.

Town hall meetings got loud for some Republican members of Congress this week, as they defended the passage of the American Health Care Act by the House of Representatives. Constituents have been asking a lot of questions, and we've been fact-checking the answers given by some leading GOP lawmakers.

Tom Reed, R-N.Y., at a town hall meeting in his district

"The pre-existing reform is not repealed by this legislation."

Fact check: That's not the whole truth

Lawmakers from both parties are increasingly convinced that the United States Senate is on a collision course that will permanently change the dynamics of the chamber — and the United States Supreme Court.

There's a growing bipartisan sadness and resignation about next week's showdown over the rules that govern high court nominations. But that doesn't mean there's any serious attempt from either party to avoid it.

A Senate education panel has temporarily postponed a school testing overhaul bill—putting one of the two major testing proposals in jeopardy.

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