TRUMP AGENDA: Go big or go home
From Leigh Ann Caldwell and Hallie Jackson: "After a difficult Thursday for Republicans who had hoped to have passed their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, the House is back at it again Friday — but this time with a directive from the White House that it's now or never. The House has scheduled a vote for their health plan, known as the American Health Care Act, for Friday afternoon. The postponement came after weeks of negotiations, which reached a breaking point Thursday as House leadership and the Trump administration seemed to be getting no closer to cobbling together the necessary 215 votes to pass the bill. Then President Donald Trump delivered a message to the House: If it doesn't pass Friday, we're moving on."
The New York Times: "President Trump, the author of "The Art of the Deal," has been projecting his usual bravado in public this week about the prospects of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Privately he is grappling with rare bouts of self-doubt. Mr. Trump has told four people close to him that he regrets going along with Speaker Paul D. Ryan's plan to push a health care overhaul before unveiling a tax cut proposal more politically palatable to Republicans. He said ruefully this week that he should have done tax reform first when it became clear that the quick-hit health care victory he had hoped for was not going to materialize on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the act's passage, when the legislation was scheduled for a vote."
The Washington Post outlines the recent changes to the bill designed to woo moderates and the far right.
Here's a visual look at the Republicans opposing the health care bill right now.
A reminder, from POLITICO: "President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan are considering throwing red meat at the right to push their Obamacare repeal bill through the House. But senators from both parties are signaling those conservative goodies will have a hard time surviving the Senate."
Dan Balz in the Washington Post: "The difficulties Republicans are confronting are entirely of their own making. For seven years, Republican politicians have made one overriding bargain with their conservative constituency, which was that they would repeal Obamacare as their first order of business if they ever had the power to do so. Now that they have the power, they still haven't found a way to make good on that promise."
And from the AP: "President Donald Trump, the author of the best-selling book, "The Art of the Deal," is about to see his deal-making abilities ratified in a legislative showdown on the House floor — or dramatically rebuffed… By gambling on passing the major health care bill without the votes in hand, the former casino owner is staking the trajectory of his presidency on a roll of the dice, betting Republicans will go along rather than stand in the way of the long-sought repeal of Obamacare. White House officials told lawmakers they would leave the health care law in place if the vote fails."
Reuters: "All eyes in global financial markets were fixed on stuttering Republican efforts to pass a replacement for Obamacare on Friday, with failure likely to undermine faith in Donald Trump's promise to deliver a "phenomenal" U.S. tax reform. Tuesday's first 1 percent daily fall on Wall Street since October has put world stocks on course for their worst week since before Trump's election in November, although many analysts continue to cast the decline as simply a consolidation after months of gains."
NBC's Alex Seitz-Wald and Andrew Rafferty on the nuclear option: "Gorsuch will almost certainly be confirmed one way or another, it's just a question of how. With Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urging Democratic senators Thursday to stand united and filibuster Gorsuch, Republicans may need to rely on the parliamentary maneuver to kill the filibuster and push Trump's high court pick over the finish line."
The Wall Street Journal: "A rift between Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee is casting doubt on the future of the politically sensitive congressional probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, with Democrats pressuring congressional leadership to replace Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.)."
From the New York Times: "Like or loathe Donald J. Trump, you have to give him this: He's done more to shine a spotlight on the loopholes and fundamental unfairness of the tax code than any other American president. In doing so, he's made a powerful case for tax reform, though perhaps not quite along the lines he has in mind."
From NBC's Alex Johnson: "The Senate took the first step Thursday toward blocking rules that would restrict how some big tech companies share and sell your personal data, a prospect that digital activists said would be a huge loss for online privacy. On a party-line vote of 50-48, the Senate passed a joint resolution that would bar the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing rules it approved last year — when it was under Democratic control — that sought to ban internet service providers like cable and cellphone companies from selling your data without your consent."
Rex Tillerson finally answered a question from NBC's Andrea Mitchell.