While President Trump’s troubled legislative agenda soaks up the attention, his push to roll back Obama-era regulations on a whole range of industries is quietly humming along. Working with Congressional Republicans, his administration has already delayed, suspended or reversed 90 regulations on everything from consumer privacy protections for Verizon and AT&T customers to a requirement that big banks collect fees to cover high-risk trading losses, per a New York Times tally. The deregulatory campaign represents the new regime’s most potent assault on what Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, calls “the administrative state.” That’s because it’s one area where the White House and Congressional Republicans find near-universal agreement. Democrats on the Hill have little recourse, so Democratic state attorneys general are threatening to sue to stop some of the regulatory paring.
But on centerstage this week, the Obamacare repeal effort will be jostling with fallout from the president’s assertion that during the campaign, then-President Obama tapped his phones in Trump Tower (Obamatap?). The Trump team had aimed to steer conversations on the Sunday shows toward their unveiling of a repeal-and-replace plan this week. Trump’s Saturday morning tweets — alleging, without evidence, that his predecessor bugged him — shredded those scripts and sent White House communicators scrambling to shift the onus onto Congressional Republicans by demanding they investigate the claim. The developments set up a high-stakes test of the Trump team’s capacity for keep its formal agenda on track. The healthcare reform drive is facing new challenges on the right, as conservative groups, including Heritage Action and the Koch-backed Freedom Partners, raise objections to central pieces of the emerging House Republican plan. And tax reform, as we’ve noted here, is stuck on the tracks behind the Obamacare. Much of the internal GOP debate over the tax code rewrite has focused on whether or not it should include a border adjustment tax — a point on which the administration itself hasn’t reached consensus. But as one top Republican Senate aide notes, there are even bigger questions that still need answers: Will reform include the personal side of the code? Will the entire package be revenue neutral, or will it amount to a net tax cut? What can the middle class expect? “The White House has to make some decisions here,” the aide says. “That would be very helpful to us.”
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The White House will roll out a revised version of its executive order banning travel from a handful of Muslim-majority countries in the hopes that tweaks will help it withstand legal challenges that iced its first attempt.
Trump spent the weekend fuming over the handling of his attorney general’s recusal from any campaign-related investigations — and a broader sense that his presidency is off-track.
Knives are out for Reince [Politico]
Trump’s chief of staff appears to be taking the lion’s share of the blame inside the administration for the turbulence that’s characterized the opening weeks of the presidency.
Most Republicans in Congress chose to ignore Trump’s charge, issued via Twitter early Saturday morning, that former President Obama tapped his phones in Trump Tower; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, however, said he’s seen nothing to substantiate the claim and the White House will have to back it up.
Newly empowered Republicans are pushing a highly ambitious agenda on Capitol Hill, but senior GOP lawmakers there are all relatively new and lack experience hashing out big deals.
Number of the day
The share of Americans who approve of the way Trump his handling his job, up a tick from the 44% who said the same thing last month, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. The survey carried mixed news for the White House: Trump’s support doesn’t appear to have suffered from a rocky month, but it remains historically low for a new president. And 65% of respondents say they back the appointment of an independent prosecutor to probe the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian operatives.