On Thursday, he hosted members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus at the White House to discuss their concerns.
This is all part of what Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) described this week as the administration’s “charm offensive” on behalf of the plan, which conservatives have rejected for not doing enough, fast enough to pull back elements of Obamacare.
As our colleagues wrote, Trump and his deputies have spent the past few days “carefully wooing members of the Freedom Caucus with lengthy lunches with the president, calls with staff and friendly meetings with White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, himself a founding member of the Freedom Caucus.”
These moves seemed, at least temporarily, to turn down the heat, as opponents pitched Trump on potential modifications to the bill.
“I didn’t hear anything that said it’s a binary choice at the White House today,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters after his meeting at the White House.
Still, even as two House committees advanced the legislation Thursday, questions about its viability remained.
Those will ultimately fall to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who has to juggle the concerns of hard-line conservatives and moderate Republicans. Only 21 House Republicans can vote “no” on the bill if it is to pass, presuming united Democratic opposition.
EPA ADMINISTRATOR REJECTS CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE
One of environmentalists’ biggest fears about the new Trump administration has been realized.
Scott Pruitt, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator and a noted climate skeptic, strongly rejected the established science of climate change during an interview Thursday with CNBC.
“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” Pruitt said.
As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt sued the EPA over its anti-climate-change Clean Power Plan, as well as other regulations. He had previously made comments suggesting his rejection of climate change science, but none so strong as Thursday’s.
So, what does this mean? As our colleagues wrote, “Pruitt’s attempt to sow scientific doubt where little exists alarmed environmental advocates, scientists and former EPA officials, who fear he plans to use such views to attack Obama-era regulations aimed at reining in pollution from the burning of coal and other fossil fuels.”
NEW INFRASTRUCTURE — IT’S EXPENSIVE
American roads, bridges and other infrastructure are in bad shape.
Unfortunately, it looks like repairs are going to cost a lot more than the Trump administration anticipated.
A new report says it will take almost $4.6 trillion over the next eight years to bring U.S. infrastructure up to an “acceptable standard,” our colleague wrote. The Trump administration has promised to spend $1 trillion.
This adds to the challenges already facing the Trump administration when it comes to the president’s infrastructure rebuilding effort.
As our colleagues wrote, that effort has launched with “numerous meetings but few firm decisions, beset by understaffing, bureaucratic challenges and major questions about how to pay for everything.” The “millions of new jobs” Trump promised to produce through infrastructure projects might not materialize this year.
In the meantime, the new assessment from the American Society of Civil Engineers pulled no punches. It gave U.S. infrastructure an overall grade of D-plus, with a D-minus for transit systems and D’s for roads, airports, dams and drinking water. Bridges and ports got C-minuses.
Follow the author @eliseviebeck.