GOP leaders pile on sweeteners to sell Obamacare repeal – By JENNIFER HABERKORN, RACHAEL BADE and JOSH DAWSEY 03/20/17 06:36 PM EDT Updated 03/20/17 11:59 PM EDT

House Speaker Paul Ryan and his top lieutenants have been meeting with holdout moderates to find out what’s needed to secure their support. | AP Photo

House Republican leaders are making a last-ditch attempt to win enough support to pass their Obamacare repeal, revealing an expansive series of changes to the bill on Monday night designed to woo wary GOP lawmakers.

Requested by President Donald Trump, the amendment includes perks for restive conservatives who wanted optional work requirements and block granting in Medicaid, as well as a potential olive branch to wary centrists who demanded more help for older Americans to buy insurance, POLITICO has learned.

But it is still unclear whether the changes are enough to win over the 216 Republicans needed to pass the measure in a high-profile vote planned for Thursday. GOP leadership insiders and White House officials firmly believe the changes will corral the necessary votes. But several rock-ribbed conservatives emerged from a closed-door session Monday night vowing to vote against the bill, and bragging that they have the votes to block it.

“House leadership does not have the votes to pass this very liberal bill unless they have a bunch of Democrats on board!” declared Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) while exiting the meeting. He called it a “the largest Republican welfare bill in the history of the Republican Party.”

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White House, GOP try to pick up the pieces on trade – By Cristina Marcos – 06/13/15 06:00 AM EDT

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House Republican leaders and the White House are trying to figure out how to rebound from a stunning Friday defeat on the House floor that has left President Obama’s trade agenda in limbo.

The dramatic loss capped a week of furious lobbying by President Obama and GOP leaders, who for once had found themselves on the same side when it came to fast-track trade authority.

They appeared to be on the verge of a major victory on fast-track — and indeed, the controversial measure allowing Obama to send trade deals to Congress for up-or-down votes was approved Friday in a separate 219-211 vote.

But because the House failed to approve a separate measure for workers displaced by trade deals known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), the entire package sunk.

The TAA bill failed in an overwhelming 126-302 vote after House Democrats decided opposing the workers assistance legislation was their best strategy for defeating fast-track, which is mostly opposed by the Democratic conference.

For some trade supporters, it felt as if defeat had been snatched from the jaws of victory, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) and other GOP leaders appeared visibly frustrated by the stunning events.


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Republican Congress moves into deal-making mode – By Scott Wong – 04/18/15 06:00 AM EDT

What ever happened to the do-nothing Congress?

Capitol Hill has seen a burst of bipartisan deal-making and legislating in recent days as newly empowered Republicans try to show voters they can govern responsibly when they’re in charge.

After a bumpy start, GOP leaders seem to have found their footing — passing a historic $200 billion Medicare reform package, striking big, bipartisan deals on Iran, education and trade, and preparing to pass a GOP budget for the first time in a decade.

Now comes the hard part: keeping the momentum.

Deadlines to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank’s charter, raise the federal borrowing limit, renew the Patriot Act and replenish the highway fund are fast-approaching, and none of the issues will be simple to sort out.

For now, GOP leaders are in a hopeful mood.

“There will be places we’re able to [come together]. There will be places that will divide us as well. But that’s part of the process of governing. Ideas flow,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told The Hill in a brief interview.

“There’s been some ups and there’s been some downs, and there’s been some very big successes,” he added.

Republicans entered the year under enormous pressure to show they can govern. For the first time in nearly a decade, the party hascontrol of the House and Senate. That gives them more ownership over Washington, and the party is eager to convince voters that their party should be given the keys to the White House in 2016.

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GOP struggles to get the votes – By Scott Wong – 03/08/15 06:00 AM EDT

Just don’t call him “The Hammer.”

Greg Nash

Greg Nash

Seven months on the job, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s wobbly vote-counting operation looks nothing like that of one of his predecessors, Tom DeLay of Texas, whose iron grip on his caucus made him one of the most respected – and feared – Republican leaders in Washington.

Scalise’s whip office has suffered a series of embarrassing setbacks, raising questions about whether the Louisiana Republican’s relatively new team is simply working out the kinks or if there’s a deeper, structural problem GOP leaders need to address.

On at least three separate occasions since January, GOP leaders have placed high-profile bills on the weekly floor calendar, only to abruptly shelve the legislation after significant defections from their own rank-and-file members.

That was the case with an anti-abortion bill and a border security bill in January. And in late February, leaders pulled a bill reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind education act on the same day they stood on the floor and watched 52 Republicans successfully vote to kill a GOP-hatched plan to keep the Homeland Security Department funded for three weeks.

Democrats stepped in and bailed out Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) with just hours to spare before a shutdown.

“The adage has always been that the Republicans are like a well-oiled machine, Denny Hastert and the Hammer,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who as co-chair of the Progressive Caucus sometimes clashed with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) when she was Speaker. “But here, they look like they’re herding cats and we [Democrats] look tight.”

Of course, Scalise and other Republican leaders don’t have access to the some of the “persuasive” tools that their predecessors had. Leaders like DeLay could dangle – or threaten to withhold – earmarks for federal spending to compel members to fall in line, but the House GOP conference banned them in 2010.

Civil war looms for GOP – By Alexander Bolton – 10/30/14 06:00 AM EDT

Conservatives salivating over the prospects of a huge victory on Nov. 4 are pressuring House and Senate GOP leaders to go big after Election Day.

The right argues leaders should forget about playing small ball, and use momentum from the midterms to put big checks on President Obama’s agenda.

“People want to see a bold vision. They want to see a real fight on ObamaCare repeal and tax reform that takes a blow torch to the tax code. They want to see real entitlement reform, not empty talk,” one conservative GOP aide said.

“The American people don’t want Republicans to become appeasers and supporters of a watered down Obama agenda.”

The problem for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other GOP leaders is that they will also face pressure to govern — which could involve cooperating with President Obama to keep the government operating and turn legislation into law.

They also must contend with a Senate map that will force the GOP to defend 24 seats in 2016, compared to just 10 for Democrats. Republicans facing reelection include senators from New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and other states where Democrats could have an advantage — particularly in a presidential election year where turnout is high.

McConnell this week appeared to manage expectations for Republican rule when he cautioned that it would be difficult to repeal ObamaCare as long as Obama is in office.

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The GOP’s rising female stars – By Scott Wong – 10/26/14 02:30 PM EDT

House Republicans won’t dramatically increase the number of women in their chamber next year, but a handful of likely freshmen could help the GOP as they struggle to reach out to female and minority voters.

Among them, Mia Love of Utah, who is poised to become the first black Republican woman elected to Congress, and Elise Stefanik, a self-described “millennial” who at 30 is slated to become the youngest woman ever to serve in either chamber.

Retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally, the first U.S. female pilot to fly in combat, is facing stiff headwinds in her race against Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), but she too could join the freshman class if Republicans keep up the momentum.

Only 19 of the current 233 House Republicans are women; 17 of them will be returning in the next Congress. So GOP leaders have been working overtime to try to boost their ranks — not only to diversify their caucus but also blunt Democrats’ blistering charges that the GOP is waging a “war on women.”

Rising female stars like Love and Stefanik can help change the public perception — and the narrative — that the Grand Old Party is a homogeneous group of old, white guys. Even if fewer than one in 10 Republican lawmakers is a woman.

“Yes, messengers are important, and having a broad spectrum of members who represent that background — youth, women, Hispanics, every walk of life — is very important,” House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), a mother of three and the No. 4 Republican in leadership, told The Hill in a phone interview. “And we do, we just need to keep building on it.”

After women voters largely abandoned the GOP in 2012, Republicans launched Project GROW, a program to recruit and groom more conservative women to run for office. Love, Stefanik and McSally were among 10 female standouts tapped to receive extra fundraising help and candidate training through the program, which is led by Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) and Diane Black (R-Tenn.) .

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