LIVE STREAM: White House press briefing with Sarah Sanders (11/20/17)

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WASHINGTON - The White House will hold a press briefing Monday afternoon with press secretary Sarah Sanders.

The briefing is scheduled to start at 3 p.m., EST - you can watch it LIVE here on ClickOnDetroit.com.

Here are some other headlines from around Washington:

White House open to striking health provision from tax bill

The White House says it’s willing to strike a health-care provision from Senate legislation to cut taxes and overhaul the tax code if the provision becomes an impediment to passing one of President Donald Trump’s top legislative priorities.

The provision would repeal a requirement that everyone in the U.S. have health insurance or pay a fine, but has emerged as a major sticking point for Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, whose vote the White House needs. Collins said Sunday that the issue should be dealt with separately.

Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said the White House is open to scrapping the provision, which would repeal a key component of the Affordable Care Act health law enacted by President Barack Obama. Trump had pressed for the provision to be added to the bill, partly to show progress on the GOP goal of undoing the health care law following Congress’ failed attempts to repeal it earlier this year.

“I don’t think anybody doubts where the White House is on repealing and replacing Obamacare. We absolutely want to do it,” Mulvaney said Sunday. “If we can repeal part of Obamacare as part of a tax bill and have a tax bill that is still a good tax bill that can pass, that’s great.

“If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we’re OK with taking it out,” Mulvaney added.

Legislative director Marc Short said Sunday that the White House “is very comfortable with the House bill,” which does not include the so-called individual mandate. But Short also said the White House views the mandate as a tax and “we like the fact that the Senate has included it in its bill.”

At issue is a provision to repeal the requirement that everyone in the U.S. have health insurance or pay a fine. Eliminating the individual mandate would add an estimated $338 billion in revenue over 10 years that Senate tax-writers used for additional tax cuts.

Collins said Sunday that the tax advantage that some middle-income consumers would reap under the tax bill could be wiped out by repealing the mandate. She said they would face higher insurance premiums coupled with the loss of federal subsidies to help them afford coverage.

“The fact is that if you do pull this piece of the Affordable Care Act out, for some middle-income families, the increased premium is going to cancel out the tax cut that they would get,” Collins said.

Collins said she hasn’t decided how to vote on the bill because it will be amended before it reaches the Senate floor. But her vote is crucial in a chamber where Republicans hold a slim 52-48 advantage.

Last week, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin became the first Republican to declare opposition, saying the plan wouldn’t cut business taxes enough for partnerships and corporations. GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee, John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Rand Paul of Kentucky have also expressed concerns.

Republicans can lose just two senators on the final vote, which would allow Vice President Mike Pence to cast a tie-breaking 51st vote in his capacity as president of the Senate. Democrats are not expected to support the bill, as was the case when the House passed its version last week.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the mandate amounts to “an unfair tax on poor people.”

“The president thinks we should get rid of it. I think we should get rid of it,” he said, but added: “We’re going to work with the Senate as we go through this.”

Mulvaney and Collins were interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Mnuchin spoke on “Fox News Sunday.” Collins also appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” as did Short.

WH: Trump not stumping for Moore due to discomfort with bid

President Donald Trump isn’t campaigning for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore because of “discomfort” with the sexual misconduct allegations made by several women but isn’t calling on the controversial judge to drop out of the race because the state’s voters should decide, the White House says.

Ultimately, Trump doesn’t know who to believe following decades-old allegations made one month before the Dec. 12 election, according to his aides.

One Republican senator urged Alabama voters to reject Moore in the special election even if that could mean ceding the seat to a Democrat and narrowing the GOP’s 52-48 Senate edge. A second GOP lawmaker suggested there was “a strong possibility” that a write-in candidate — “a proven conservative” — could win, though no name was mentioned.

“We are uncomfortable with the explanations that Roy Moore has given to date,” said White House legislative director Marc Short. Speaking of Trump’s position, Short said: “Obviously if he did not believe that the women’s accusations were credible, he would be down campaigning for Roy Moore.”

Still, Short added the “38-year-old allegations” were virtually unprovable. “At this point, we think he has been a public figure in Alabama for decades, and the people of Alabama will make the decision, not the president, not the leader of the Senate, not members in Congress.”

Moore, a former state Supreme Court justice twice removed from office, has denied the accusations that have surfaced only recently, and pledged to remain in the race. The special election will determine who fills the remainder of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ term, until January 2020.

Before the allegations emerged, Trump had backed current GOP Sen. Luther Strange in the Sept. 26 primary to determine Sessions’ successor and campaigned in the state, a Republican stronghold.

After Moore’s victory, Trump made clear he would back the anti-establishment candidate enthusiastically promoted by former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon. But since the allegations aired, the White House has said Moore should drop out if they were true. Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones, a former prosecutor, in the Dec 12 race.

Budget director Mick Mulvaney said while the White House had “serious concerns,” it was hard to weigh in against Moore. Moore’s name cannot be removed from the ballot before the special election even if he withdraws from the race, though a write-in campaign remains possible.

Trump “doesn’t know who to believe. I think a lot of folks don’t,” Mulvaney said.

Short, pressed repeatedly about whether Trump still supported Moore, said: “I don’t think you have seen him issue an endorsement. You have not seen him issue robocalls.” Short added, “I think you can infer by the fact that he has not gone down to support Roy Moore his discomfort in doing so.”

Moore has forcefully denied the charges as “unsubstantiated” and “fake” even as more women have come forward to make complaints of sexual improprieties. Two women by name have said Moore molested them in the 1970s when one was 14 and the other 16 and he was a local district attorney in his 30s, and three others said he pursued romantic relationships with them around the same time.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are among the many national Republicans who have urged Moore to step aside. Sessions told Congress last week he has “no reason to doubt” the women.

“I hope that the voters of Alabama choose not to elect him,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “I don’t know Doug Jones at all, but I’ve never supported Roy Moore. And I hope that he does not end up being in the United States Senate.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said “it is in the best interest of the country, as well as the state of Alabama, from my perspective, for Roy Moore to find something else to do.” Scott said he thinks there was “a strong possibility with a new candidate, a new Republican candidate, a proven conservative, that we can win that race.”

Moore’s candidacy has left GOP officials in a bind, especially after GOP Gov. Kay Ivey said she will not postpone the election and will vote for Moore. The Alabama Republican Party has also thrown its support behind Moore.

A Moore victory would saddle GOP senators with a colleague accused of abusing and harassing teenagers, a troubling liability heading into the 2018 congressional elections.

McConnell has said Moore would almost certainly face a formal ethics complaint in the Senate if he were elected. Such an ethics complaint could lead to a Senate vote on expelling him.

Short appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” Mulvaney spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Collins was on ABC and CNN’s “State of the Union” and Scott spoke on “Fox News Sunday.”

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