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April 21, 2017
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When members of Congress return to Washington next week after their long spring recess, both parties plan to focus on passing a spending bill to keep the federal government running past April 28. When Congress returns next week, President Trump wants House Republicans to take up the American Health Care Act again, with a new amendment, so he will be able to point to a concrete accomplishment in his first 100 days in office; his 100th day is April 29.

"Congress usually cannot take on two big things at once," The New York Times says. Five days to pass a spending bill, The Washington Post adds, is "a tight timeline under the most generous of circumstance that would be nearly impossible to meet if House leaders also try to force a vote on the repeal legislation." In theory, Democrats and Republicans could pass a very short-term stopgap spending bill, but a new GOP push to pass the AHCA, which repeals large parts of the Affordable Care Act, would not put Democrats in a very cooperative mood.

The first attempt to pass the AHCA failed very publicly last month. But at a news conference on Thursday, Trump said "the plan gets better and better and better, and it's gotten really, really good, and a lot of people are liking it a lot," adding he thinks the House can pass that as well as a spending bill. "We have a good chance of getting it soon," Trump said of the AHCA. "I'd like to say next week, but it will be — I believe we will get it."

Hopes of passing the health-care bill rest on an amendment negotiated by relative moderate Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). The draft plan would allow states to seek waivers to requirements that insurers offer essential health benefits and not charge more to people with pre-existing conditions, if the state maintained a high-risk pool. (Jeff Spross has more details at The Week.)

Even if House Republicans get the plan translated into legislative language and get it scored by the Congressional Budget Office, there's no guarantee it would pass. The amendment "really doesn't address the concerns that I had," Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.) told The New York Times. Fellow moderate Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) agreed it "does nothing to change my views," criticizing any focus "on an arbitrary 100-day deadline." Peter Weber

10:08 a.m. ET
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Disney's hounding of 21st Century Fox finally paid off.

Fox accepted Disney's massive $71.3 billion offer in cash and stock to buy the company, The Wall Street Journal reports. The whopping deal, which Disney proposed Wednesday morning, is "superior" to Comcast's $65 billion all-cash offer made earlier this month, Fox said in a statement Wednesday. Disney had previously offered $52.4 billion in stock before being outflanked by Comcast.

The rejection is good news for Comcast's bank account. Buying Fox would've plunged Comcast nearly $170 billion in the hole and made it one of the most indebted companies in the world, CNN reports.

Disney's acquisition includes the 20th Century Fox film and TV studio, Fox's American cable channels, and U.K.-based Sky News, says Bloomberg. Some major Fox assets, including Fox News, Fox Sports, and its TV stations, aren't part of the purchase. They'll be spun off into a so-called "New Fox."

The Justice Department still has to okay the deal, and Fox was worried that Comcast's offer posed bigger regulatory concerns, the Journal reports. A judge's recent approval of the AT&T-Time Warner merger bodes well for Fox and Disney's union. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:50 a.m. ET
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President Trump is worried about staff holdovers.

Trump is becoming paranoid that officials who also worked for previous administrations are not sufficiently loyal to him, The New York Times reported Tuesday. "The Bushies in the White House are out to get me," he reportedly said of staffers who also worked for former President George W. Bush.

The Trump administration has seen a record-breaking number of departures and an incredibly high turnover rate, reportedly leaving Trump concerned that he can't trust the staffers who are left. Few of Trump's original team members remain, which has pushed the president to become increasingly isolated in the White House, preferring not to communicate much with his aides out of worry that they are secretly hoping for his downfall. Read more at Talking Points Memo. Summer Meza

9:08 a.m. ET

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow broke down in tears Tuesday night while trying to make her way through an Associated Press report about "tender age" shelters, which are being used by the Trump administration to house babies and toddlers forcibly separated from their parents on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Maddow, visibly distraught, was unable to make her way through the opening sentence of the report, looking up at the camera to say, "I think I'm going to have to hand this off. Sorry, that's it for us tonight, we'll see you again tomorrow."

She later tweeted an apology to her viewers:

Maddow subsequently shared the AP report, which reads: "Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents to at least three 'tender age' shelters in South Texas. Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the 'tender age' shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis." Maddow added: "Again, I apologize for losing it there for a moment. Not the way I intended that to go, not by a mile."

Her fans were understanding. "Rachel Maddow breaking down on live TV is all of us," tweeted writer Brian Tyler Cohen. Jeva Lange

8:56 a.m. ET

With the possible exceptions of Corey Lewandowski and White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, nobody in Washington says they like President Trump's new "zero tolerance" policy and the resulting separation of 2,300 migrant children — including babies — from their parents, and counting. Even President Trump disavows responsibility for his administration's policy. But Iran sees the value in America separating families and locking children up in cages.

"Iran state TV no longer needs to broadcast slogans against America," U.S.-Iranian journalist Borzou Daragahi noted. Now Tehran "just shows handout pictures distributed by U.S. [government] itself." Those who live in free-press-less houses, of course, have no business throwing stones. But the Iranian government is surely not the only repressive regime delighted at this propagandistic own goal. Peter Weber

8:48 a.m. ET

Spectrum News NY1 captured "jarring" footage of a number of young girls being ushered to and from the building that houses the Cayuga Centers in Harlem around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, after a tipster told reporters that "kids separated from their parents along the southern U.S. border would be brought there," said anchor Josh Robin, who was on the scene.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has confirmed that more than 70 children who were separated from their parents at the border are now being housed in New York state. People familiar with the situation told NY1 that the Cayuga Centers are helping to care for such kids, including by placing them in foster care. A woman who was with the girls seen in the video "emphatically denied they had been separated from their parents."

"We want to be very careful," Robin said. "We don't know for sure the situation … We can't say for sure what my sources have told me, that [these girls] have been brought from the southern border." You can watch the footage below. Jeva Lange

8:26 a.m. ET
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Industrial giant GE was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Tuesday and replaced with drug-store chain Walgreens. GE was one of the 30 original stocks in the index in 1896, and it had been on the list continuously since 1907. The company's stock has struggled over the past year. GE's leaders are implementing a turnaround plan, and the company said getting booted from the Dow "does nothing to change those commitments or our focus in creating a stronger, simpler GE." David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said replacing GE with Walgreens boosts the index's coverage of the consumer and health-care sectors, making it "a better measure of the economy and the stock market." Harold Maass

8:12 a.m. ET

In retrospect, maybe Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen should have picked another type of restaurant while America is in an uproar about her department separating mostly Latino migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border. But Nielsen chose the D.C. Mexican restaurant MXDC Cocina Mexicana — a fact the protesters from the Democratic Socialists of America noted when they descended on her table, yelling "shame." "The irony isn't lost on us that this is a Mexican restaurant," the group said on Facebook.

Nielsen and a companion had been dining at the restaurant for about an hour before a dozen or so protesters walked in, restaurant general manager Thomas Genovese told The Washington Post. The Democratic Socialists of America say a diner tipped them off. She sat at the table, protesters yelling, for 10 to 15 minutes, paid her check, and left the restaurant escorted by Secret Service agents, Genovese said. Homeland Security Department spokesman Tyler Houston put a friendly gloss on the protest:

"A lot of people were very happy to see her shamed," fellow diner Brent Epperson, visiting from Canada, told the Post. Nielsen and her dinner companion "tried to pretend like nothing was happening, but it lasted long enough that they couldn't," he added. "They were just sitting there like statues, waiting for the protest to end." You can see a sample of the protest in the Good Morning America roundup of the increasingly tense national standoff over the family-separation policy, or watch the entire video at Facebook. Peter Weber

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