News, Straight to the Point

Even though Republicans now control the White House and both chambers of Congress, that doesn't mean they will have an easy time agreeing on and implementing a plan to fund the government going forward.

Though we are still a couple weeks away from seeing the actual text of the President's budget blueprint, many controversial pieces of the plan have been revealed, including a $54 billion hike in military spending, and deep cuts to the State Department, the Environmental Projection Agency and the Coast Guard, among other departments and agencies.

Already, signs of revolt are emerging on Capitol Hill, and top budget experts warn of an array of legal and political obstacles standing in Trump's way.

Here are 5 points to keep in mind as the budget battle unfolds:

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The closer that Republicans get to settling on a Obamacare repeal plan, the uglier the intra-party fighting gets, with the latest round being over the types of tax credits lawmakers offer as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

The details are wonky, but reveal the deep differences in philosophies regarding health care reform that are currently roiling the GOP caucus. Just as troubling for Republican leadership in Congress is that a not-insignificant smattering of GOP lawmakers are vowing to vote against an Obamacare repeal bill that also offers the type of tax credits to which they object. The infighting was exacerbated by a leaked GOP plan that included a controversial form of the credits.

Here are 5 points on what the disagreement is over and why it has gotten so heated.

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In a lengthy, wide-ranging press conference Monday about the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election, the committee's chair, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), repeatedly defended the Trump administration.

He declared that he has seen no evidence that aides to President Donald Trump were in contact with Russian officials before the election and dismissed calls for a special prosecutor to look into the matter. He also fiercely defended the White House's attempts to get members of Congress to push back on reports about Trump aides' alleged contacts with Russia, applauding the effort as a move for greater transparency.

The Intelligence Committee chair even went to bat for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned following reports that he talked with the Russian ambassador about U.S. sanctions before Trump's inauguration.

Here are the five main takeaways from Nunes' comments Monday:

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President Trump suffered a setback in court Thursday evening, when a panel of three judges decided not to reinstate his travel ban, after a lower court temporarily blocked it. In the 3-0 order, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that the states challenging the executive order, Washington and Minnesota, had the standing to sue Trump’s administration and that the administration hadn't proved it was likely to succeed when the full case was litigated. The panel also said that the immigration order should continue being blocked nationwide, citing a 2015 court decision that halted an immigration order issued by the Obama administration.

Here are five points on Thursday’s order:

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President Trump fulfilled a key campaign promise Tuesday with his announcement that he was nominating federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia's death last February.

"Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline and has earned bipartisan support," Trump said in a ceremony with Gorsuch in the White House.

The 49-year-old Gorsuch, currently a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, is a judge known to be in the mold of Scalia, who Gorsuch knew personally.

"Justice Scalia was a lion of the law. Agree or disagree with him, all of his colleagues on the bench cherished his wisdom and his humor, and, like them, I miss him," Gorsuch said at the nomination ceremony.

The nomination comes as the Trump administration has brought chaos to Washington with controversy after controversy in the 11 days since the inauguration. Trump was only able to fill the seat, which has been empty for nearly a year, because Senate Republicans launched an unprecedented blockade of President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland.

Here are five points on Gorsuch and the fight that may come with his confirmation:

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Republicans have hinted that they intend to use their Obamacare repeal push to transform Medicaid into a block grant system, a long-held GOP policy dream that faces deep resistance from state officials and could make the already treacherous territory around repeal of the Affordable Care Act more complicated.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway earlier this month pointed to Medicaid block grants as one of the options the Trump administration was considering as part of its plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Lawmakers at last week's GOP congressional retreat in Philadelphia also raised an overhaul of the program as a possibility.

However, to do so, they would have to muddle through numerous tough policy questions and trade-offs that could pit GOP lawmakers against each other, if the past attempts to block grant Medicaid are any guide. Meanwhile, governors, including some Republicans, have expressed wariness of any Medicaid proposals that would shift its costs to their states.

Here are 5 points on the GOP push to block grant Medicaid.

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Deporting millions of undocumented immigrants and building a wall with Mexico were paramount to President-elect Donald Trump's campaign so as the inauguration looms, the immigrant community is on edge as millions await their fates.

Over the weekend, activists gathered across the country from Chicago to Washington, D.C., to speak out against the restrictionist immigration policies Trump pushed on the campaign trail, but advocates who spoke with TPM this week said they remain in the dark about what Trump and his team plan to do in the upcoming months.

"The transition team has been remarkably closed lips about what their plans are," said Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum. "I think whether it is from the President-elect or the transition team, the details have been few and far between. My experience with the Obama team is they didn’t make any decisions with us in the room, but they were definitely entertaining a host of perspectives."

Noorani said he's not been privy to any of those meetings with the Trump team.

"I am sure there are parts of the Trump transition team who have been meeting with those who want to end immigration to the US as we know it," he said.

At the top of the list of concerns is fear of what could become of the more than 700,000 young people who turned over personal information to the government in the last couple of years to get DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status, a program that has allowed people who came to the U.S. as children to get legal status, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

"Assuming that Trump lets the radical right wing of the Republican Party drive his immigration policy, we’re bracing for the worst," Frank Sharry, the founder and executive director of America’s Voice, an immigration reform group, told TPM.

Already more than 800 congregations across the country have expressed interest in opening up their churches to immigrants looking for sanctuary and advocates are reissuing programs to help immigrants know their rights if they are pulled over or present for a deportation raid, advocates told TPM.

“There is a lot of uncertainty but also a lot of determination to protect each other,” said Julieta Garibay, the deputy advocacy director for United We Dream. Here are the biggest unanswered questions about Trump's nascent immigration policy:

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Before the holiday break, Republicans were committed to repealing Obamacare. And they wanted it done as fast as they could.

But even as the Senate began to move forward with dismantling the health care system, Republicans returned from the holidays with a sinking recognition that executing an immediate repeal of the Affordable Care Act could trigger a major backlash.

In December, the Urban Institute released a detailed warning of how the insurance market could collapse if Republicans charged ahead with plans to partially repeal the Affordable Care Act through reconciliation -- a process that avoids a Democratic filibuster but is limited in its scope -- without a clear replacement. Even Republican and libertarian health care experts were explicit in closed-door meetings with Republicans that the GOP was taking a huge gamble by repealing Obamacare without a replacement. As it turns out, some of the people who benefited the most from Obamacare are the same ones who voted for Trump and the Republicans. The Washington Post cited a fascinating number: Among poor whites, the uninsured rate has dropped from 25 percent to 15 percent. If Republicans were to pull back that safety net, there appears to be a growing recognition that they would bear the consequences.

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Attorney General Loretta Lynch previewed the final actions she and the Department of Justice would be taking before the end of President Obama’s term, while stressing the importance of career professionals in the department once President-elect Donald Trump's administration takes over.

Here are five points she made at the breakfast interview with Politico:

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President-elect Donald Trump's announcement Wednesday that he would nominate GOP megadonor Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education was welcomed by Republicans, particularly those passionate about charter schools and school vouchers, which DeVos has championed.

Progressives, meanwhile, warned that her selection was dangerous for public education and pointed to other controversial causes, including anti-LGBT initiatives and anti-abortion measures, that DeVos and her family have supported.

Here's what you need to know about Trump's pick to lead the Department of Education.

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