How the GOP health care bill is fueling Democratic opposition
JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, our Politics Monday duo is here to unpack the aftermath of the Republican health care plan passing the House, new concerns about possible conflicts of interest in the Trump White House, and former President Obama speaking out about his signature legislation.
For all that, Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.
And welcome to both of you.
And before we talk about that, we are just literally in the last minute or two watching some new tweets from President Trump.
Amy, he is essentially saying that today's hearing on Capitol Hill about the Russia investigation, what the White House was told by the then acting attorney general, he's saying it's all old news, that the fake news had to have been disappointed. He is calling the entire investigation a hoax. He said, when will this taxpayer-funded charade end?
I guess it's not surprising.
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: It's not surprising.
And the short answer for when it will end is not very — not very soon, not anytime soon. In fact, it's more likely that we are talking about these issues well into 2018. And that is the reality of how much staff that the House and the Senate still have to get to that they haven't even begun.
The Sally Yates story today didn't produce any bombshells, but that doesn't mean that this is now going to go away in the near future.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, indeed, Tam, the gentleman I interviewed just a few minutes ago, former assistant attorney general, was saying it's pretty clear now the Russians are going to be — they not only felt they were successful this time. They are going to keep trying in 2020.
TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Yes.
And that is why — that sort of concern is why members of Congress are going to keep investigating this, whether President Trump wants them to or not.
President Trump often takes these sorts of investigations or hearings as coming after him, where many members of Congress see this as going for information, and not necessarily trying to undermine him, but, of course, the resistance does see it as a chance to undermine him.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let's go back and talk about — it seems like a hundred years ago, Amy, that the House of Representatives voted to — finally voted to undo, at least to pass a replacement bill for Obamacare.
There's already been ads run in congressional districts around the country both for and against Republican members, depending on how they voted.
Is this — do we know yet whether this is a plus or minus politically for these House members?
AMY WALTER: Yes, if you're sitting in one of these competitive congressional districts, you might think that we're already deep into the middle of a midterm election, the number of ads that are running now and will continue to run.
Democrats believe that this is a potent issue for them in the election. And they remember what it was like when they were on the other side. That's the reason they think it's going to be so powerful.
Back in 2010, when they were the ones voting for a bill that was controversial, pushing it through on a party-line-only vote, they suffered the consequences. It was a toxic vote for them. They lost 63 seats and control of the House.
Democrats are convinced this is going to be that kind of issue for Republicans. There is not a lot of polling that's been out yet. One poll that came out today showed 31 percent of Americans supporting it. Compare that to where Americans — how Americans feel about the Obamacare, which is now at about 48 percent. So that's not great.
The best news for Republicans is that Republicans are supportive of it, about 75 percent supportive of it, but the intensity on the other side, people who say they oppose is much, much higher.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It's growing. And, of course, we are months away from the midterms. It's November of next year, Tam, and you still don't know what the Senate is going to do.
TAMARA KEITH: That's right.
The Senate is going to take their time. They are waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to come back with a score of the House bill. That's something that the House didn't wait for. They're also saying that they're basically starting fresh and doing something on their own.
There is a deadline here. The way they're trying to do this is through this budget reconciliation process. That's why they don't need any Democratic votes in the Senate, but that turns into a pumpkin at the end of September. So, there isn't much time.
And there is a big challenge here. On the House side, they really thread a needle to get the number of votes that they needed, to get the Freedom Caucus and the moderates to come along. The needle is completely different over on the Senate side that they need to thread.
And how they combine those things, if the Senate is able to get something done, with a much tighter margin than they had in the House, it's unclear.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It is a somewhat different calculus in the Senate.
AMY WALTER: It is a different — absolutely.
And the other thing to remember, if you're thinking as a House member, is, no matter what happens with the Senate bill, no matter whether we ultimately see it on the president's desk and it's signed into law and it looks different from the one that way voted on, they own that vote that they cast the other week and all that went along with it.
And that's why, when we talked about these ads as a preview for 2018, for those people sitting in those districts, what they are watching are images of a baby with a respirator, a pregnant woman who's looking distraught talk about the fact that there are costs that are going to go up, seniors are going to pay more, preexisting conditions are going to exist.
Those kinds of ads are going to run throughout 2018, regardless of what the final bill looks like.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Something completely separate I want to ask you both about.
And you have been doing some reporting on this, Tam. The president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, he has separated himself from the business that his family very involved in, very successful real estate business.
His sister was in China over the last few days, and talking about special treatment possibly for people seeking these so-called EB-5 visas. It's complicated, but it matters in terms of people looking at whether there is any conflict of interests here.
TAMARA KEITH: That's right.
And the Kushner organization has apologized for any misunderstanding or any impression that could be left that she was trying to use her brother's position. Jared Kushner has said that he will not involve himself in anything involving these visas as they're considered.
This is a controversial visa program. For as little as $500,000, investors, foreign nationals can invest in a project, a real estate project typically, and get a visa that gets them on a path to citizenship to become a citizen of the United States.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it's — we're — only a little bit of time left here, but it's just another case of what the Trump White House has to be on the lookout for.
AMY WALTER: Yes, right.
And here's an opportunity. It's a president who wants to push for immigration reform. He could have talked about reforming this very issue.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Politics Monday. Amy, Tam, thank you both.
TAMARA KEITH: You're welcome.