Alice Ollstein

Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.

Articles by Alice

With the deadline to pass an omnibus budget bill to fund the federal government just a few weeks away, Congress is considering a rescue package for Obamacare’s troubled individual market, including funding for stabilization measures aimed at bringing down rising insurance premiums.

Lawmakers pushing the effort—begun back in the summer and fall of 2017—are hoping to counteract the damage to the individual market caused by a string of Trump administration moves, from terminating cost-sharing reduction payments for  insurance companies to defunding open enrollment outreach to encouraging the proliferation of cheap, skimpy, off-market health plans.

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President Donald Trump’s off-script comments on gun control at Wednesday’s wild, televised meeting have Republicans in a sweat, but they’re making Democrats cautiously optimistic. In the wake of Trump signaling support for an array of gun control measures and promising to stand up to the National Rifle Association, Democrats and some Republicans are rushing to introduce a slew of bills and nail down his support before the famously mercurial president changes his mind.

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A new tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds the highest ever public approval rating for the Affordable Care Act since the organization began asking the question in 2010. According to the survey, 54 percent of the public view the embattled law favorably, while 42 percent hold an unfavorable view. The major shift in public approval for the ACA since Trump took office and set about chipping away at the law has mostly been driven by independents, 55 percent of whom currently approve of Obamacare.

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In a freewheeling, televised meeting with lawmakers at the White House on Wednesday, President Trump endorsed several gun control policies, including raising the minimum age for assault weapons purchases, strengthening background checks, and confiscating firearms from people who may be mentally ill or dangerous.

“I like taking the guns early,” he said, making the Republican lawmakers in the room visibly uncomfortable. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

When they returned to Capitol Hill from the meeting, Republican senators expressed outrage and anxiety about that remark.

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Once again, following yet another mass shooting, members of Congress are meeting with survivors and introducing a flurry of bills aimed at combating gun violence. But while some lawmakers insist that it’s a “new day” on Capitol Hill, citing the activism of the Stoneman Douglass High School students that has galvanized the country, others predict that this push will end like those after gun massacres in Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, and the Pulse nightclub—with inaction.

Even as Delta Airlines and a host of other major corporations distance themselves from the NRA, and Dick’s Sporting Goods moves to end sales of assault rifles in their stores nationwide, some lawmakers are hesitant to take action and others cannot agree on a path forward.

Complicating Congress’ already entrenched resistance to gun control legislation is a mercurial President, who one days calls for standing up to the NRA and the next walks back his support for gun control bills, and a familiar struggle between Democrats and Republicans about how to begin the debate. Meanwhile, several Republican lawmakers remain staunchly opposed to even the most modest policy changes.

Asked if he saw any appetite among his colleagues for passing a gun-related bill in the coming weeks, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) told TPM flatly, “No, I don’t.”

Some supporters of gun control were equally pessimistic. Asked if he’s seeing any change in his colleagues’ resistance to passing new restrictions, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) sighed and responded: “Not yet.”

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The Trump administration’s health care agenda is advancing along two separate tracks: At the same time that Health and Human Services is encouraging the proliferation of cheap, skimpy, short-term insurance plans designed to lure younger and healthier people out of Obamacare’s individual market, it is also making it harder to qualify for free or subsidized comprehensive insurance (at the moment, this means undermining Medicaid).

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On Monday morning, the Supreme Court declined to take up the Trump administration’s bid to overturn a lower court ruling blocking the administration’s termination of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“The petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment is denied without prejudice,” the justices wrote. “It is assumed that the Court of Appeals will proceed expeditiously to decide this case.”

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Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.

Late Saturday afternoon, Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee released a partially redacted version of their memo countering claims from the committee’s Republicans that the intelligence community under the Obama administration abused its powers in surveilling a former member of President Trump’s campaign.

The memo, drafted by ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), says the FBI and DOJ did not abuse their powers, as Republicans have claimed. Instead, the Democratic memo says, the surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was justified because he was “someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government.”

A statement from Schiff said the memo “should put to rest any concerns that the American people might have as to the conduct of the FBI, the Justice Department and the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court]. Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement.”

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