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Thursday
Mar232017

GOP health care plan would hit people in counties Trump won hardest

apbalboa/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Areas that voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election by the widest margins could see significantly larger cuts in health care subsidies than other Americans, according to a new
ABC News analysis of data provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the 2016 election results.

The numbers show that voters who are older and low-income would get hit hardest by the American Health Care Act, but those aren't the only reasons many Trump voters could fare worse than other
Americans if the bill becomes law.

A look at the how the law would change health care policy in different parts of the country shows that people of the same age and same income could see thousands of dollars more or less in tax
credits based on where they live.

The areas that voted for Trump -- especially those where Trump won big -- could be hit hardest.

The new numbers show that geography, cost of living, family income, rural/urban divides and state-by-state healthcare rules mean people in areas that voted for Trump would get less in tax credits
than those who voted for Clinton under the new legislation -- even with the exact same age and income.

That's according to a new ABC News analysis of the data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit focusing on national health issues, and Associated Press election results.

Fox example, a 40-year-old making $30,000 per year under the new plan would get $138 more in tax credits, on average, in counties where Clinton won. But in counties where Trump won, this person
would get an average of $353 less in tax credits.

Similarly, a 60-year-old making $40,000 per year would get $2,747 less in tax credits in counties Clinton won, but would get $4,181 less in tax credits in counties that Trump won.

And for a 27-year-old making $30,000 per year, tax credits would rise by $16 on average in counties that Clinton won but would decrease by an average of $329 in counties that Trump won.

This analysis does not take into account changes the House made on March 20 that would potentially allow for larger tax credits under the AHCA for people over age 50, according to Kaiser.

The margin by which Trump or Clinton won each county also makes a difference. People in counties that most overwhelmingly voted for Trump -- by a margin of more than 30 percent -- would see their
tax credits go down more than a person with the exact same age and income who lives in a county Clinton won by similar margins.

And for older Americans, these difference could amount to thousands of dollars. A 60-year-old making $40,000 per year who lives in a county that strongly favored Trump would see their tax credit
cut by almost twice the amount as would be the case in a county where Clinton dominated.

For other people, the difference could be between receiving more or less in tax credits under the new plan. Take a look at this chart for a 40-year-old making $30,000 per year:

The differences are even more stark in terms of the tax credits each person would receive.

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Thursday
Mar232017

Intel chair Devin Nunes unsure if Trump associates were directly surveilled

Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, R-Calif., does not know "for sure" whether President Donald Trump or members of his transition team were even on the
phone calls or other communications now being cited as partial vindication for the president’s wiretapping claims against the Obama administration, according to a spokesperson.

"He said he'll have to get all the documents he requested from the [intelligence community] about this before he knows for sure," a spokesperson for Nunes said Thursday. Nunes was a member of the
Trump transition team executive committee.

At a press conference yesterday, Nunes announced he obtained "dozens of reports" showing the U.S. intelligence community -- through its "normal foreign surveillance" -- "incidentally collected
information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition."

But Nunes never said Trump or any of the president's associates personally participated in the communications that were intercepted.

Nevertheless, Nunes called it a "significant" development, and President Trump later said it "somewhat" vindicated his controversial Tweets two weeks ago alleging that President Obama wiretapped
him and his campaign.

Based on the limited amount of information provided by Nunes so far, it's possible that foreign officials were overheard talking about Trump transition team members, one intelligence official
speculated, as opposed to transition members participating directly in the communications.

It's also possible the information now cited by Nunes came from emails –- not phone calls –- intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies.

"We don't know exactly how it was picked up," Nunes acknowledged yesterday.

U.S. officials who spoke with ABC News said they assume the reports obtained by Nunes are summaries or other accounts of communications collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act.

That section allows the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the phone calls and emails of foreigners located overseas.

While foreigners are targeted by such surveillance, "it's actually unavoidable" that Americans will be caught up in it too, board member Rachel Brand, now nominated to be the number-three at the
Justice Department under President Trump, said at a 2014 hearing of the government's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

In fact, "Congress knew full well when it passed Section 702 that incidental collection of communications of U.S. persons would occur when they're in communication with valid foreign targets,"
Robert Litt, then the Director of National Intelligence's top lawyer, told the board.

"And it's important to note," Litt continued, "that this kind of incidental collection occurs all the time in other contexts. ... When we seize someone's computer, we may find communications with
persons who are not targets."

At his press conference yesterday, Nunes expressed concern that details about the Trump transition members "with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in
intelligence community reporting," and at least some of those people were specifically identified –- or "unmasked" – in intelligence community documents.

But some of the government’s top intelligence officials, speaking at that March 2014 hearing, insisted such information about Americans is closely held and only distributed more widely when
necessary.

"You can only disseminate information about a U.S. person if it is foreign intelligence, or necessary to understand foreign intelligence, or is evidence of a crime" that should be turned over to
the FBI, according to Brad Wiegmann, who’s still a top attorney in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

If it’s "key" for a foreign government to understand that 'Joe Smith' is a threat – that he's a "malicious cyber hacker" for example – "and it was key to know the information, then you might pass
Joe Smith's name," Wiegmann said. "If it was incidentally in the communication but was not pertinent to the information you're trying to convey, then that would be deleted. It would just say ‘U.S.
person.’ It would be blocked out."

So was the U.S. intelligence community spying on the Trump transition team?

"It all depends on one's definition of spying," Nunes said yesterday.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar232017

Why 'essential benefits' are sticking point in Obamacare overhaul

Image Source Pink/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans are scrambling on Capitol Hill to rewrite their health care bill ahead of an anticipated vote on the measure, which could come as early as Friday morning after it was
postponed on Thursday.

Some Conservatives want -– among other things –- language included in the law to scrap "Essential Health Care Benefits," a key provision in the Affordable Care Act, which mandated that all
insurance plans sold on the individual marketplaces had to cover “essential” items, including:

- Ambulatory patient services

- Emergency services

- Hospitalization

- Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care

- Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment

- Prescription drugs

- Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)

- Laboratory services

- Preventative and wellness services and chronic disease management

- Pediatric services, including oral and vision care

Free-market conservatives have long argued that these regulations are unfair to consumers and raise premiums. Their position is that insurance recipients -- like a young, healthy male -- shouldn't
have to pay for a plan that includes coverage they don't need, like maternity care, particularly if it increases the cost of their plan.

“It's this potpourri of mandated benefits that everyone has to have. We've lost consumer choice,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters during his briefing on Thursday. “The idea
is to instill choice back into the market.”

Spicer suggested that the White House was open to cutting these benefits, but said that everything was still up for negotiation.

Democrats –- and some Republicans –- argue that insurance economics work differently. They say insurance premiums often fall when more people buy into a pool, not just those who are sick or
anticipating the need for coverage for a life event, like pregnancy. In their scenario, everyone chips in, and while only some people need services, everyone is covered just in case.

Before the ACA, consumers sometimes unintentionally bought so-called “junk plans” that did not provide basic benefits. Because those buying coverage on their own have little-to-no leverage, they
can be susceptible to gimmicks or ploys from big carriers. Democrats argued these were important consumer protection regulations and would help drive down costs of better plans.

Democrats argue that a change to mandated benefits would not fly under Senate rules, which only permit budget-related tweaks for the measure to pass with 51 votes, as Republicans have been trying
to do with this “repeal and replace” measure.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters she was very proud that her party included these benefits in the law they passed under president Obama.

“I'll just say that [cutting] essential health benefits means Republicans are making being a woman a preexisting condition again. Stripping guaranteed maternity care is a pregnancy tax pure and
simple. Stripping guaranteed maternity care is a pregnancy tax pure and simple. Worsening the addiction epidemic and making it harder to access mental health care, making it more expensive to be
sick in America,” she said.

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Thursday
Mar232017

Revised GOP health bill still leaves 24M more uninsured after decade, CBO says

wutwhanfoto/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on the GOP’s health care bill says that the revised version would have similar effects on health insurance coverage and
premiums, and a smaller effect on reducing the federal deficit than initially predicted.

The CBO’s initial estimate, released last Monday, projected that 14 million people more people would be uninsured next year than would be under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. That number
was estimated to rise to 24 million by 2026. The new report states of the revised version that "estimates differ by no more than half a million people in any category in any year over the next
decade."

Republican supporters of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) were quick to focus on the CBO's calculation that the law would eventually reduce the deficit by $337 billion over the next decade in
the initial version of the bill. However, that number has now been reduced by $186 billion to $151 billion in deficit reduction over the 2017-2026 period in the revised version.

The new report is adjusted for the changes House Republicans made to the AHCA bill late Monday night.

The House vote on the AHCA, originally scheduled for Thursday, has been delayed and is expected to take place Friday morning.

The White House is "confident" that the bill will pass, according to deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

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Thursday
Mar232017

Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter under investigation for potential campaign finance violations

Joe Raedle/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Justice is investigating Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., for potentially violating campaign finance laws by using tens of thousands in those funds for personal use,
according to the House Committee on Ethics.

In a statement released Wednesday, Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., and Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the chairwoman and ranking member of the committee, explained that they are deferring their investigation at the request of the DOJ. Hunter has denied any intentional wrongdoing.

According to a House ethics report, Hunter allegedly "may have converted tens of thousands of dollars of campaign funds from his congressional campaign committee to personal use to pay for family
travel, flights, utilities, healthcare, school uniforms and tuition, jewelry, groceries, and other goods, services and expenses."

Among the campaign expenses that may have raised Ethics Committee eyebrows -- a $600 charge to campaign credit card to buy an airline ticket to transport the family's pet rabbit, as reported by the
San Diego Tribune in January.

CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a complaint about Hunter's expenses with the Congressional Ethics office in April and also requested an audit by the Federal
Election Commission.

The group pointed to payments that included a purchase for hundreds of dollars at a jewelry store in Florence, Italy billed as "food/beverages."

"This is the most egregious Congressional spending scandal since Aaron Schock,” CREW said in a statement. Schock, a Republican congressman from Illinois who resigned, was indicted last year for
wire fraud and other charges, which his lawyer called "made-up allegations," according to the New York Times. Schock has not yet been tried in court.

The attorneys for Hunter, Elliot S. Berke and Gregory A. Vega, said in a statement that Hunter and his wife learned about his campaign committee's expenditures issues last year and "out of an
abundance of caution" repaid the committee "approximately $60,000."

"Congressman Hunter intends to cooperate fully with the government on this investigation, and maintains that to the extent any mistakes were made they were strictly inadvertent and unintentional,"
Hunter's attorneys said in a statement.

While the committee's report on Hunter does not indicate any violation of the law, the House Ethics Committee is strict on how members can use campaign money, specifically saying "members have no
discretion whatsoever to convert campaign funds to personal use."

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Thursday
Mar232017

Thursday night's vote on health care a pivotal moment for GOP

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The fate of House Republicans' health care plan remains up in the air as it heads for a vote in the House later Thursday, the timing of which has yet to be announced.

Despite Wednesday’s late-night negotiations and personal pitches from President Trump, the list of "no" votes against the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is growing.

At least 30 Republicans have said they will oppose the bill in its current form, according to ABC News’ latest whip count, meaning Republicans could fall at least nine votes short. The GOP needs 216 votes for a simple majority to pass the bill in the House.

House Republicans planned to hold a full conference meeting sometime Thursday as a final huddle before Thursday night's crucial vote. And Trump will make his last-minute sales pitch to conservative House Freedom Caucus members at the White House.

As the clock ticks, the House still awaits the Congressional Budget Office's new score for the bill, evaluating its budgetary effect, which is expected at some point before the House vote.

A series of meetings on Capitol Hill about the plan went late into the evening, but no deal was reached. The House Freedom Caucus met to discuss potential alterations to the bill’s text and also reached no agreement.

But as House Freedom Caucus members inch closer to achieving changes that could sway them to support the bill, the House risks losing moderates’ votes.

Nearly two dozen moderate lawmakers burned the midnight oil, gathering in House Speaker Paul Ryan's office to hash out the plan. After nearly two hours, most of those lawmakers sneaked out of his office, avoiding the media.

One prominent moderate, Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., the leader of the moderate Tuesday Group, released a statement announcing his opposition to the bill after attending that meeting. Earlier Wednesday, a handful of moderates had already said they would not support the measure.

In a sign of the chaos on Capitol Hill Thursday, Republican leaders abruptly canceled a 9 a.m. conference meeting, catching some members by surprise.

"My party intends to bring forth an agreed-to bill that we will be able to show to the American people, and we will own it," House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said on the House floor Thursday morning as the chamber debated the procedural rule to bring a bill to the floor later Thursday.

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Thursday
Mar232017

House intel chair apologizes for briefing White House before ranking member

US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., apologized to the full House Intelligence Committee Thursday for failing to inform the committee's Democratic ranking member of his findings -- that the intelligence community "incidentally collected" surveillance of Trump's transition team and possibly the president himself -- before he briefed the White House and held a press conference Wednesday.

"I am not confident that he can run this committee," said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who informed reporters that Nunes had apologized in a closed door meeting. A second Democratic member Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, corroborated the story.

Nunes has refused to share the source of his information with the committee. Speier said she believes Nunes obtained it "either from the White House or possibly by someone associated with the White House."

Earlier Thursday, Nunes told reporters that his decision not to alert ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., before talking to the media was his "judgment call."

"I mean, there was a lot going on yesterday and it was a judgment call on my part ... at the end of the day, sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the wrong one, but you've got to stick by the decisions you make," Nunes said.

Nunes' decision to brief the White House comes during the House intelligence committee's investigation into Russia's meddling in the U.S. election and any alleged connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The committee is also investigating potential leaks by the intelligence community.

During his press conference Wednesday, Nunes stressed that the communications "incidentally collected" had nothing to do with Russia. He also said the surveillance was legally collected under a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrant.

Schiff said Thursday he was "blindsided but mostly just mystified" by Nunes' actions Wednesday.

"He's having difficulty separating his role as a surrogate for the administration, with his role as a committee chairman that has to do a very important -- arguably pivotally important investigation," Schiff said in an interview on ABC's The View Thursday. "He can't do both roles. It compromises the work we're doing."

Schiff declined to answer whether Nunes apologized to him and the other committee members, only adding that "we shared our concerns with the chair and the majority about what happened yesterday and how the investigation is being conducted."

Schiff said he and his members still have not seen the report Nunes has read.

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Thursday
Mar232017

Schumer: Democrats will filibuster Trump SCOTUS nominee Gorsuch

Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate’s top Democrat dealt a critical blow to the confirmation process of President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, by vowing to invoke a filibuster that would force Republicans to earn 60 votes to end debate in the Senate before Gorsuch can be confirmed.

“After careful deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday. “His nomination will have a cloture vote, he will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation.”

Democrats have threatened to force any of Trump’s Supreme Court nominees to clear procedural hurdles since last year. But Republicans have vowed that Gorsuch would be confirmed no matter what, even if it meant controversial changes to Senate rules.

Throughout his confirmation hearing, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee repeatedly hit Gorsuch for his refusal to comment on his personal philosophies behind controversial rulings he had delivered as a federal judge on the Tenth Circuit.

“Judge Gorsuch was unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check on a president who has shown almost no restraint from executive overreach,” Schumer said. “Second, he was unable to convince me that he would be a mainstream justice who could rule free from the biases of politics and ideology.”

“My vote will be no, and I urge my colleagues to do the same,” Schumer added.

But Republicans have the option of going “nuclear,” a colloquial term used to describe changing the longstanding precedent surrounding confirmation of presidential nominees and reducing the required number of votes from 60 to a simple majority of 51.

Under Senate rules, three-fifths of senators are required to vote in favor of ending debate, or for cloture. But in 2013, Senate Democrats employed a series of procedural maneuvers to change that requirement to a simple majority, or 51 votes, for all Cabinet-level and judicial nominations -- except for those to the Supreme Court.

The elimination of the three-fifths threshold became known as the nuclear option.

Facing a confirmation fight over a judge for whom Democrats have pledged to require 60 votes -- votes Republicans might not have -- GOP senators are considering changing the threshold for approving Supreme Court justice nominees to 51 votes.

“To my Republican friends who think that if Judge Gorsuch fails to reach 60 votes we ought to change the rules I say: If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes, a bar met by each of President [Barack] Obama’s nominees, and President [George W.] Bush’s last two nominees, the answer isn’t to change the rules -- it’s to change the nominee,” Schumer said.

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Thursday
Mar232017

US-Mexico border wall needed only in 'strategic locations,' says border patrol union head

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The head of the union representing U.S. Border Patrol agents said Wednesday that a wall along the southern border was only necessary in "strategic locations."

During a Senate hearing on staffing needs for Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), National Border Patrol Council president Brandon Judd said, "We don't need a great wall of the United States. We do not need 2,000 miles of border wall. I will tell you, however, that a wall in strategic locations is absolutely necessary."

Judd said the current fencing "can be defeated," explaining to the senators that he has spent time finding holes in the fence.

"If we do a wall and we do it properly on the border, we can in fact effectuate a better arrest rate and we can in fact secure the border,” he said. "Before we do that we have to address the current issues that we have."

President Trump made immigration enforcement and securing the southwest border a priority in his campaign and has followed up with executive action since he took office, directing CBP to hire 5,000 additional agents and ICE to hire 10,000 additional agents.

This will be a major undertaking for the agencies.

Newly sworn-in Border Patrol chief Ron Vitiello told ABC News in an exclusive interview last week that the agents on the ground are the most important part of the equation when it comes to border security.

"Somebody has to arrest the people who are going to continue to attempt to enter even if there is a border wall," he said.

Judd told senators that Border Patrol loses over 1,000 agents per year. He said the biggest issue facing Border Patrol hiring is pay parity with other agencies, adding that the agency has to bring back parity, otherwise there will be a "mass exodus to ICE when ICE starts hiring."

However, he called on the Congress not to restrict Border Patrol agents from getting hired by ICE, saying that preventing mobility would cause an even greater drop in morale.

Amid concerns that people are increasingly making illegal crossings into Canada, Judd said he doesn't want to create a situation where the only focus in on the southern border.

"What I am scared of is we are going to throw all of our resources to the southern border and leave the northern border wide open," said Judd.

The union president called on Border Patrol to station "at least" 1,500 of the yet-to-be hired 5,000 agents on the northern border.

Both ICE and Border Patrol unions endorsed Trump during the presidential campaign. Both said that morale has been up among the rank-and-file since the election.

Only union representatives spoke at the hearing. There were no government witnesses to discuss hiring and morale issues.

Aside from increased pay for Border Patrol agents, Judd said that boosting morale and changing the way the polygraph is administered are his top priorities to help fix the hiring needs of the agency.

National President of the National Treasury Employees Union, Anthony Reardon, who was representing CBP field operation employees said that the CBP officer shortage is "staggering."

"There is no greater roadblock to legitimate trade and travel efficiency and stopping illicit trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons and money than the lack of sufficient staff at the ports," he said.

There is an existing vacancy rate of nearly 1,400 already-budgeted CBP officers at ports and, an additional 2,100 CBP officers need to be funded and hired in order to meet 2017 staffing needs — a total staffing shortage of 3,500 today, according to Reardon.

Chris Crane, president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, said ICE is suffering from a "toxic and failed management culture."

"Screw up and move up" is a term used by ICE employees to describe supervision all the way from low-level managers to the director of the agency, he said.

He said that ICE is made up of a "good ole' boy" network, in which supervisors cover for supervisors, and only rank and file employees are held accountable.

Employees refuse to report misconduct committed by supervisors because employees don't trust the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the agency or internal affairs offices to effectively carry out investigations against supervisors, according to Crane.

In terms of fixing staffing issues, he told the Senate committee that ICE needs to find ways to innovate, specifically in the best ways to allow agents to spend more time in the field and less time in the office doing paperwork.

He also said that hiring standards must be maintained and in some cases elevated.

"We need the "time to do this right," he said regarding the additional agents that ICE is planning to hire.

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Wednesday
Mar222017

House conservatives threaten GOP health care bill

DenKuvaiev/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Members of the House Freedom Caucus, after years of frustrating GOP leaders' plans with a Democrat in the White House, are prepared to do the same under President Donald Trump.

Meeting twice on Wednesday after a trip to the White House, some conservatives declared they remained opposed to the GOP health care plan heading to the House floor on Thursday, threatening to hand Trump a stinging defeat on his first major legislative push.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who joined the afternoon huddle over pizza and Coca-Cola, called on leadership to delay the vote.

"They don't have the votes," he said as he left the meeting.

At least 25 members of the caucus, which doesn't publicize its membership, are prepared to vote against the American Health Care Act, according to a spokeswoman.

Republicans can only afford to lose 21 Republicans and still pass the bill. In addition to members of the Freedom Caucus, a number of moderates have announced opposition to the proposal.

The White House has made a number of tweaks to the original legislation in an effort to corral votes, including changes to Medicaid funding, an optional work requirement for Medicaid and instructions for the Senate to construct a $75 billion fund that would provide additional tax credits to help people buy insurance.

But the moves aren't enough for some conservatives, who are pushing for additional repeal items, such as the elimination of essential health benefits, they believe would help lower premiums.

"We think there are ways to improve it that would get enough votes, but so far we don't have any language," said Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich.

The White House and Republican leaders are wary of violating Senate budgetary procedures, which could hold up the legislation in the upper chamber after a vote in the House.

On Tuesday, President Trump traveled to Capitol Hill to sell Republicans on the deal in person, telling the conference they'd be "fools" to oppose the legislation and that doing so could cost Republicans their House majority in 2018.

But some conservatives dismissed the warning from Trump, who is known to keep track of his detractors and opponents.

"The only people I answer to are the people back in my district," said Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who says he plans to vote against the bill.

Trump -- dubbed "The Closer" by House Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., at the White House Wednesday — has successfully pushed some Republicans to support the bill.

Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, both came out for the bill after meeting with the president at the White House today, according to a House GOP leadership aide. Others, such as Reps. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, and Lou Barletta, R-Pa., have also backed the bill after individual meetings with Trump in the Oval Office.

"I knew if I held out long enough ... they'd send in the big guy to close the deal," Barletta told ABC News' Mary Bruce in an interview today.

But others haven't been as easily persuaded, including Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., a member of the House Freedom Caucus who recently traveled on Air Force One with Trump.

"We still haven’t seen the movement we want to make the premiums affordable for everyone," he said Wednesday. "We’re still negotiating."

Republican leaders are still planning to bring the bill to the floor Thursday, according to House GOP leadership aides.

"I don't think they'll pull the bill. I think we have a vote tomorrow, and it will either be voted up or down," said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the Freedom Caucus chair following the afternoon session.

Meadows, who stepped out of the caucus's second meeting Wednesday evening to take a call from Trump, argued that the group is focused on keeping Trump's campaign promises.

"He's got a board in the White House that talks about every single one of his campaign promises, and he's going down and checking those off," he said. "And it's incumbent upon us to work in a real good faith manner to make sure he gets this one checked off."

As of late Wednesday night, a spokesperson tweeted that the "Freedom Caucus continues to have serious concerns with current AHCA text," while noting that the process was ongoing.

Earlier in the day, as Meadows spoke to reporters, he was interrupted by McHenry and Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who joked with him about announcing his support for the bill.

"We're still negotiating, we're all trying to get to 'Yes,'" said Meadows.
 
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