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Gorsuch Hearings Begin

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Gorsuch begin at 11 AM ET today.

Dems prepare five lines of attack. Politico: “… Gorsuch was extensively involved in defending the anti-terror policies of the George W. Bush administration … they see a major vulnerability in Gorsuch’s rulings for large companies and institutions over sympathetic plaintiffs … Gorsuch has shown deep skepticism toward the so-called Chevron deference, a longstanding doctrine that calls on judges to defer to how federal agencies interpret key laws [and] has led to key victories in environmental and labor policies…”

Red state Dems feel squeezed. NYT: “Both sides are honing in on a group of roughly 10 Democrats up for reelection in 2018 in states carried by Trump and who could make or break his nomination … Republicans will need to break off at least eight Democrats … Any move to support Gorsuch will inflame the party’s progressive base, but opposing him will be fodder for Republicans and outside group ahead of 2018.”

Dems divided over filibuster. NYT: “Some Democrats believe that Republicans are posturing in an effort to intimidate the opposition and don’t yet have the votes to end the filibuster. They also worry their party could face a severe political reprisal from its energized liberal backers if they do not do whatever they can to oppose Judge Gorsuch no matter the consequences. Other Democrats privately take a different view. They say the party shouldn’t test the limits on the Gorsuch nomination since his approval won’t change the ideological makeup of the court from when Justice Scalia served. They believe Democrats should hold their fire in the expectation of another vacancy.”

Tight Health Care Vote This Week

House may vote on ACA repeal Thursday with outcome uncertain. The Hill: “President Trump won support on Friday from leaders of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC) after agreeing to provide states with the options of receiving block grants for Medicaid and imposing work requirements for Medicaid recipients But members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus maintained they are largely still opposed to the legislation … It’s unclear if the CBO will have a chance to weigh in on the changes agreed upon by Trump and the RSC before the full House vote.”

NBC’s Mark Murray tweets: “Per NBC’s count, 17 House GOPers are nos … Can afford just 21 defections”

Entire GOP agenda at stake. Politico: “…The rest of the GOP agenda will be endangered if [Speaker Paul] Ryan loses Thursday’s vote. The House majority would likely be at risk from emboldened Democrats. And Ryan can expect a fresh wave of criticism from conservative hard-liners, who have already turned against a man they backed for the job. Ryan and his allies believe he’ll win but that it will be razor close.”

Ryan concedes bill as written hurts older people. AP: “‘We believe we should have even more assistance. And that’s one of the things we’re looking at for that person in their 50s and 60s because they experience higher health care costs,’ …he allowed the additional assistance was one of several House revisions to be discussed in advance of Thursday’s vote, along with possible changes to help low-income people more with tax credits and require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to meet work requirements.”

Primary Challenges Loom

Former Sanders volunteers recruit primary challengers to Democratic incumbents. NBC: “…they’ve yet to prove they are capable of being any kind of a force to be reckoned with … One called #WeWillReplaceYou has warned specific members of congress it may challenge them. But it promises to use discretion in targeting only those Democrats it feels have strayed from the party. Another new group staffed by ex-Sanders aides, Justice Democrats, has less clear plans [but] they have an innovative model that could be used to run a large slate of candidates on the cheap … Justice Democrats merged operations with another anti-incumbent group founded by former Sanders aides, Brand New Congress …”

Sen. Chuck Schumer working on 2018 economic message. The New Yorker: “‘It’s going to be based on two things—putting more money in the average person’s pocket and reducing the expenses they pay out of their pocket,’ he said. ‘I was going to call it the paycheck agenda, but my staff reminded me that people under forty-five don’t know what a paycheck is.’ … In a challenge to Trump, Senate Democrats have proposed their own infrastructure plan, totaling a trillion dollars. But when I asked Schumer if he could share any other parts of the agenda with me, he said no.”

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