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 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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We have reached the halfway point of this year’s open enrollment period—Obamacare’s first under the Trump presidency—and the pace of signups continues to be strong, well ahead of last year. Still, Trump’s actions, including gutting outreach funding by 90 percent and cutting off subsidies to insurance companies, are likely to put a damper on overall enrollment.

The Department of Health and Human Services released an enrollment “snapshot” Wednesday morning showing that nearly 2.3 million people have enrolled so far this year during the first three weeks of open enrollment. That’s several thousand more people than had enrolled in the first four weeks last year, when the Obama administration was pulling out all the stops to encourage signups. Crucially, the number of new consumers signing up for health insurance is also ahead of last year.

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It just became a lot easier for Republicans to kill Obamacare’s individual mandate.

Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-AK), who has been largely quiet since she helped squash Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act earlier this year, on Tuesday wrote an op-ed in a local Alaska paper announcing her support for gutting the individual mandate through the tax bill.

“I believe that the federal government should not force anyone to buy something they do not wish to buy, in order to avoid being taxed,” she wrote.

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In an unusual letter to Congress this week, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general says a report he submitted more than six weeks ago on the chaotic implementation of President Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order has gone down a bureaucratic black hole.

“I’m very troubled by this development,” wrote Inspector General John Roth, warning that the Trump administration is likely to invoke various executive privileges to avoid releasing some or all of the report, a move he says will “significantly hamper” his ability to hold the department accountable.

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The 2020 U.S. Census will determine which states gain or lose electoral power for years to come, and President Donald Trump is leaning towards appointing a pro-gerrymandering professor with no government experience to help lead the effort.

Politico reported Tuesday that Trump may soon tap Thomas Brunell, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Dallas who has no background in statistics, for a powerful deputy position that doesn’t require congressional approval.

He authored a 2008 book titled Competitive Elections are Bad for America.

The position has historically been held by a career civil servant who has served many years in the Census Bureau.

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