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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

Alex Azar, President Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services, has taken great pains leading up to his Senate confirmation process to send the message that he’s nothing like his ideological firebrand predecessor Tom Price, who resigned in disgrace in late September.

But under questioning from lawmakers on Wednesday, Azar confirmed that he aligns with Price on the policies Trump has implemented to weaken the Affordable Care Act, including the gutting of the ACA’s outreach and navigator assistance funding, the halving of the open enrollment period, the defunding of subsidies for low-income patients, and the severing of enrollment partnerships with grassroots and state level organizations.

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) walked out of a lunch meeting Tuesday with President Trump and Senate Republicans with a broad smile on her face, telling reporters that promises from the president to support two separate health care bills left her “encouraged” and more amenable to voting to repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate—something just weeks ago she warned would devastate the middle class.

Despite Trump’s purported backing, however, it is far from certain that either one could pass both chambers of Congress. And even if they did, several independent experts have said that both these bills combined would not protect the individual health insurance market by the harm caused by repealing the mandate.

“One of the major concerns I had was the impact on premiums of repealing the individual mandate,” she said Tuesday, referring to government estimates that repealing the mandate would raise insurance premiums by at least 10 percent as healthier consumers leave the market.

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As the Senate races toward a vote Thursday or Friday on a 250-plus page bill to overhaul the American tax code, with no hearings and without a complete analysis of the bill’s impact, a cadre of Republican senators say they’re working “feverishly” on a last-minute rewrite. Skeptical of the wild economic growth GOP leadership promises will make up for all the revenue lost in the legislation, the change they’re seeking would create a “backstop” or “trigger” mechanism to undo some of the deepest tax cuts in the bill after several years if that magic economic growth doesn’t materialize.

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With a vote on the controversial Republican tax bill expected in the Senate later this week, GOP leaders are furiously whipping the handful of lawmakers who could make or break the bill’s success. But for every vote they pull on board, more seem to fall off the wagon.

On Monday, yet another Republican senator aired concerns about the bill, particularly estimates that it would balloon the federal deficit by $1.2 to $1.4 trillion. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) told reporters in a Capitol Hill press conference that he’s skeptical the promised economic growth will fill that hole, and refused to say how he will vote on the tax bill itself.

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Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, resigned on Friday, after announcing earlier in November that he would be stepping down from his post. No matter who President Trump appoints to succeed Cordray at the agency, there is sure to be a fight over that confirmation, as Democratic lawmakers fear an attempt to roll back the protections put in place after the Great Recession.

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As more women come forward to accuse Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) of unwanted touching and other forms of sexual harassment, the embattled lawmaker issued another statement on Thanksgiving Day apologizing for his behavior and vowing to be “much more careful and sensitive” going forward.

Yet the statement appears to downplay recent allegations that Franken grabbed the buttocks of women who had asked to pose with him for photos at political events, with the senator describing the interactions as “greetings or embraces.”

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Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologized Wednesday for a nude photo of himself posted by an anonymous Twitter account that made the rounds on social media, saying he was “sorry that I let my constituents down.”

“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” he said in a statement. “Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days.”

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