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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

The budget blueprint President Donald Trump released last week—which calls for gutting an array of domestic programs to finance a massive military spending bonanza—would have to clear many political and legal hurdles before becoming law.

But an additional unusual obstacle has emerged: pushback from members of his own party.

On Capitol Hill, the same Republicans who railed for years against President Obama's spending priorities are being forced into an awkward position by Trump's budget proposal: defending the Environmental Protection Agency, National Endowment for the Arts, and other federal programs, and decrying efforts to lavish money on the Pentagon.

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Members of the House's conservative Republican Study Committee emerged from a meeting with President Donald Trump on Friday more eager to support the embattled health care repeal bill that GOP leadership is aiming to bring to a House floor vote next week.

"One hundred percent of the noes were now yeses," Trump boasted.

Several lawmakers who were in the White House meeting confirmed to TPM that two promised changes to the bill were enough to flip them from no or undecided to yes: a provision to allow states to impose work requirements on able-bodied Medicaid recipients, and another giving states the option of getting their Medicaid funding in a block grant instead of the per capita capped funding system the current version of the legislation proposes.

RSC Chair Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) told reporters these changes will be introduced as an amendment to the American Health Care Act in the Rules Committee markup next week.

"We had eight members of our steering committee who were undecided or no. Based on these two requests, all moved to 'yes' today," he said.

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Republican leaders gathered Friday morning with Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price to assure the press and the public that despite reports of defections, divisions, and disagreements in the party, the plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act is advancing smoothly.

"Republicans are united," Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rogers (R-WA) insisted even as more lawmakers and Republican governors come out against the legislation.

At the Friday press conference, the GOP leaders and Health Secretary continued to push an argument that emerged over the course of this week as the bill has become mired in criticism—particularly after the Congressional Budget Office reported that the bill would trigger massive insurance coverage losses. The legislation shouldn't be judged in isolation, they said, because it's part of a "three-phase process."

"This plan is in three phases," Price told reporters. "The reconciliation bill, the kinds of things we're able to do at the Department, and more legislation with an overall plan to move us in the direction of patient-centered health care."

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Many Republicans are speaking out against President Donald Trump's proposal to gut the budget of the State Department by 28 percent. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is not one of them.

"I don't have any concerns with the cuts to the State Department," he told reporters Thursday. "As I understand it they had teams all over the world that were paid lavish amounts of money, and they weren't promoting America, they were promoting the LGBT agenda. That's not the State Department's role."

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After mere minutes of debate, the House Budget Committee narrowly approved the GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, 17 to 19. Three hardline conservative Republicans on the committee—Reps. David Brat (R-VA), David Gary Palmer (R-AL) and Mark Sanford (R-SC)—joined every single Democrat member in opposing the bill, but were unable to muster the numbers to stop its passage.

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Updated at 9:58 a.m. ET

The budget blueprint President Donald Trump released Thursday will slash more than a quarter of the budget of both the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department, deeply cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and completely defund the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds National Public Radio and PBS. More cuts are proposed for public education, agriculture, public transportation, and food assistance for the poor.

The Trump cuts will help fund a proposed 10 percent increase in the Pentagon's budget consisting of tens of billions of dollars, and a 6 percent increase in the budget of the Department Homeland Security, including $1.7 billion dollars to begin building Trump's new wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump's budget blueprint, titled "America First: A Budget to Make America Great Again," faces many legal and political obstacles on its way to implementation, but the opening salvo suggests a new era of harsh austerity for nearly every sector of government outside of the military.

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Dozens of conservative lawmakers in the House's Republican Study Committee huddled behind closed doors in the basement of the Capitol Wednesday with Vice President Mike Pence to discuss their imperiled Obamacare repeal bill—which has been lambasted by moderates and conservatives alike.

When the lawmakers emerged, they expressed confidence that the White House supports the changes they are demanding: freezing the Medicaid expansion in 2018 instead of 2020, and imposing a work requirement on low-income Americans receiving Medicaid.

"Ultimately, we were told today that we should be hopeful as far as having some of this incorporated into the bill," RSC chairman Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) (pictured) told reporters. "We're as hopeful as we've ever been."

Even as hardline conservatives, moderate Republicans, and Trump loyalists continue to come out against the bill, Walker said the changes to its Medicaid provisions would bring his 170-member group on board. The RSC includes many of the the most conservative Republicans in the House.

"The RSC in general is very close to signing off," he said. "Our ultimate goal is a unanimous vote of support."

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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is openly frustrated with the Trump administration dragging its feet on fully briefing Congress on its various Russia investigations.

This week, he put his foot down, refusing to move forward on the backlog of confirmation votes before his committee until FBI Director James Comey tells the committee what is going on.

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