Lauren Fox

Lauren Fox is a reporter at Talking Points Memo.

Articles by Lauren

During a Republican conference meeting Tuesday morning, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) tried to quell concerns within the conference that his staff had assisted President Donald Trump's administration with drafting an executive order on immigration that even Republican leaders did not know was coming.

Members and staff in the meeting said afterward that Goodlatte walked through the process and explained that he had had staff who served on the transition team when Trump became the nominee.

On Tuesday afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee released a statement praising the work of the staffers.

“My staff on the House Judiciary Committee are some of the best on Capitol Hill. They are experts in their respective fields and I proudly allowed them to provide their expertise to the Trump transition team on immigration law," Goodlatte said. "To be clear, while they gave advice to the new Administration, they did not have decision making authority on the policy. The final decision was made at the highest levels of the Trump Administration, and I support the President’s executive order."

Goodlatte's knowledge that his staff was involved opens up questions of whether the Chairman himself was aware of what was coming even as Republican leaders were in the dark. During his press conference, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tried to downplay what occurred.

"Congressional staffers help the administration all the time. I'll refer you to the Judiciary Committee on the specific aspects of this," House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said.

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Turdukan Tostokova was putting the finishing touches on creating new homes in America for two sets of elderly Iraqi refugees scheduled to arrive tomorrow. She'd been planning for months for their arrival in Bismarck, North Dakota. She had their rent checks ready to hand over to landlords and was preparing the final details before their arrival.

“I was going to go buy beds today. I was going to buy food tomorrow morning. Everything was planned," Tostokova, a site supervisor for the refugee resettlement program at Lutheran Social Services, told TPM in an interview Monday afternoon.

Then came the President Donald Trump's executive order late Friday that halted the refugee program for 120 days and put a 90-day ban on immigration from seven majority Muslim countries including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Iran, Sudan and Libya. The effects of the ban are just beginning to be fully realized.

On Monday afternoon, Tostokova got the official word: The families she'd hope to be reuniting wouldn't get that opportunity.

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A group of Republican lawmakers have already spoken out against President Donald Trump's executive actions to bar immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days.

The Republicans are the same crew who spoke out early and often against Trump's immigration screeds on the campaign trail. So far Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) have stood against Trump's actions.

The backlash against Trump has been broad and come from all corners of the Republican Party in Congress.

In a joint statement Sunday, Graham and McCain warned that Trump's actions were little more than "a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism."

"At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred," the statement said. "This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”

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The Trump administration apparently was unable to scrap all outreach efforts to enroll individuals in Obamacare, following widespread concern that its move Thursday to pull ads promoting enrollment could destabilize the insurance marketplace.

According to Politico, HHS officials said Friday evening that they will continue to allow "automatic phone calls and other online and digital outreach."

Politico also reported that HHS was unable to cancel some of the millions in television advertising that had already been bought during the Obama administration. HHS was able to cancel $4 million out of $5 million in the ads, which could still have a significant affect on enrollment, according to the report.

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After the White House cut off outreach and advertising in the final days of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act's exchange in 2017, insurers continued to encourage individuals to enroll to keep costs down Friday.

America's Health Insurance Plans, the national association for insurers, issued a statement Friday emphasizing the importance of robust sign ups.

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Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) cannot support a border wall that isn't paid for.

Despite some indications that Republican leaders may give President Donald Trump a multi-billion dollar border wall without offsets, Risch – a key fiscal conservative – says he's not on board.

"I vote for things that are offset," Risch said. "I'm a strong believer in offsetting whatever it is you're going to spend money on. The government today borrows one and a quarter million dollars a day and that can't go on so it needs to be offset."

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