A pre-lunch update from the reporters and editors of CongressDaily.
SECOND OPINION. President Obama released his version of healthcare overhaul legislation today that is largely based on a Senate-passed bill but with some changes designed to appease House Democrats ahead of Thursday’s health summit. The measure extends a special deal for Nebraska on Medicaid expansion costs to all states, increases the threshold for a tax on high-cost insurance plans and includes a proposal to regulate insurance rates. Senior White House officials estimated the changes would increase the cost of the $871 billion Senate bill to $950 billion but they insisted the new provisions are fully offset. White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said drafters carefully constructed the proposal in anticipation of a Republican filibuster attempt, presumably meaning the measure could pass through reconciliation if necessary.
AN OMEN, PERHAPS. Senate Majority Leader Reid needs at least two Republican votes tonight to end debate on a $15 billion jobs bill, but it isn’t clear he will get them. No Republicans have committed to voting for cloture, but some moderates say they are undecided. But the prospect of a jobs bill stalling in an election year in which angst over unemployment is high begs a vital question: If a jobs bill can’t get a couple of GOP votes, what can? For the record, Republicans say they would be happy to help out on this bill — if Reid would allow amendments.
SOME COUNT MORE THAN OTHERS. Not all governors are created equal. Obama met with the nation’s governors this morning, but only one of them gets a special Oval Office audience later today. Obama pushed education programs to the masses. This afternoon, according to the White House schedule, he’ll meet with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. No word on the agenda, but the term-limited governor will need a job soon.
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What We're Following See More »
Donald Trump is planning to reverse an Obama-era order requiring that schools allow students to use the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity. Trump "has green-lighted the plan for the Justice Department and Education Department to send a “Dear Colleague” letter to schools rescinding the guidance." A case is going before the Supreme Court on March 28 in which Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school student, is suing his high school for forbidding him to use the men's room.
Retired Russian diplomats and members of Vladimir Putin's staff are compiling a dossier "on Donald Trump's psychological makeup" for the Russian leader. "Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser."
Donald Trump is set to issue a new and more focused executive order clarifying the scope of his travel ban, hoping that the order will survive legal challenges. The new order would focus on the same seven countries, "but would only bar entry to those without a visa and who have never entered the United States before. Unlike the original order, people from those countries who already have permanent U.S. residency (green cards) or visas would not face any restrictions." Some lawyers believe the government will now have much stronger standing, though lawyers who challenged the initial order see the same core problems with the forthcoming ban.