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Democrats declare victory in health care fight

CLOSE Democrats declare victory in health care fight
Democrats declare victory in health care fight

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi praised the decision to cancel the vote on the GOP health care bill to replace Obamacare. USA TODAY


From left, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Eric Swalwell hold a news conference in the House Visitors Center, March 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. In a big setback to the agenda of President Donald Trump and the Speaker, Ryan cancelled a vote for the American Health Care Act, the GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also called 'Obamacare.' (Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Democrats declared victory for Americans on Friday following the collapse of a Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and they expressed hope that they could work with the GOP to improve President Obama’s signature law.

But they also took swipes at Republicans for the way they handled a bill they said would cost more and provide less coverage while providing tax breaks for the wealthy.

During a news conference, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., cast doubt on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s assertion that he canceled Friday’s vote because it looked like the bill would be narrowly defeated.

“We had a big, long list of no's that we were seeing,” she said, smiling. “I don’t know how close it would be. But let’s not lose anymore face for them. They’ve lost enough today.”

Republicans say they are now moving on from health care. Pelosi said they lost on this issue because of their own actions, but also because Americans weighed in.

“Our phone lines were all deluged,” she said.

Democrats called on the Trump administration and Republicans to work with them to improve the Affordable Care Act.

“That law needs nurturing, not neglect,” said Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley of New York.

Pelosi highlighted areas where Democrats could work with Republicans, including a plan to allow Medicare — the biggest purchaser of prescription drugs — to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, which Trump has said he supports.

“We have a responsibility to find common ground,” she said. But she added, Republicans can’t be motivated by “spite.”

Asked whether they thought health care would be abandoned so quickly, Pelosi said she thought Republicans “might have accomplished something in the first couple of months” in the Trump administration. She noted that Obama passed the economic stimulus package a month after he was sworn into office.

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Earlier Friday, Democrats were all ready to vote against the bill, saying it would strip coverage from 24 million Americans, increase costs and impose an “age tax” on those ages 50-64 who will pay more. And they targeted an amendment to strip minimum insurance coverage standards as a backroom deal making a bad bill worse.

“We see bills periodically that are bad policy but the bill that would have been on the floor today for a vote was just plain heartless and we’re so glad that we didn’t vote on that legislation today,” said


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Analysts say Trump agenda may not be derailed by health care defeat

CLOSE Analysts say Trump agenda may not be derailed by health care defeat
Analysts say Trump agenda may not be derailed by health care defeat

House speaker Paul Ryan explained his decision for cancelling a vote on the GOP bill to replace Obamacare. USA TODAY


President Trump in the Oval Office announcing he approved a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline March 24, 2017. (Photo: Evan Vucci, AP)

WASHINGTON — He tweeted it in 2011: “Know when to walk away from the table."

That’s precisely what President Trump did on the Republican legislation largely repealing and replacing Obamacare. He shut down negotiations Thursday night and on Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., pulled the bill from consideration, with Trump's consent.

While conventional wisdom might say a major loss on his first legislative push as president could derail the rest of his agenda, political operatives and analysts say Trump and his fortunes have rarely lined up with convention.

“I don’t necessarily think at the end of the day, this is going to be a great failure of the presidency like many will suggest,” said Craig Robinson, founder and editor of “I think Trump’s going to use this to kind of show that he’s separate from the Congress, and if you want to put heat on people to do something, put it on them.”

But Trump did repeat over and over on the campaign trail that he would repeal Obamacare, so the failure to get it done will have some impact. The bill was drafted by Republican lawmakers led by Ryan and not the White House, but Trump “did wrap his arms around it,” said Lilly Goren, political science professor at Carroll University in Wisconsin.

"And he said, you know, this is what we're going to work on, this is what we're going to get passed, and I'm the deal maker, and so I'm going to make the deals to move this through," she said. "And so he can't quite completely disassociate himself from it."

Trump worked the phones for days, held numerous meetings with lawmakers, and even provided concessions to conservative Republicans who said the legislation didn’t go far enough.

“He’s left everything on the field when it comes to this bill,” press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday. “The president has been working throughout the week on this… Over 120 members have personally had a visit, call or a meeting here at the White House in the past few days.”

The bill, dubbed the American Health Care Act, would have replaced large swaths of the Affordable Care Act, including requirements that individuals maintain insurance at all times and that larger companies provide it to employees. It kept intact provisions that allow children to stay on their parents plans until age 26 and prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

In a last-ditch effort to win over conservatives on Friday morning, House leaders added changes negotiated by Trump and Republican members that would have, among other things, eliminated minimum requirements for insurance plans to cover 10 " essential health benefits ," including maternity care, emergency room trips and prescription drugs.

But some hard-liners from the influential Freedom Caucus, whose votes were


La. officer convicted in 6-year-old’s shooting death

USA Today Network Melissa Gregory, The (Alexandria, La.) Town Talk Published 1:11 a.m. ET March 25, 2017 | Updated 1 hour ago


Defense attorneys Christopher LaCour (left) and Jonathan Goins (center) watch as their use-of-force expert, David Bolgiano, talks to media after their client, Derrick Stafford, was found guilty Friday night of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter. (Photo: Melissa Gregory/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

MARKSVILLE, La. — A Louisiana law enforcement officer was found guilty Friday of manslaughter in the shooting death of a 6-year-old boy.

Derrick Stafford, who was moonlighting as a Marksvile deputy marshal, was also convicted of attempted manslaughter in the wounding of the boys father.

Stafford, 33, and another deputy city marshal opened fire on a car — killing 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis and critically wounding his father — after a 2-mile car chase in Marksville on the night of Nov. 3, 2015.

Video from a police officer’s body camera shows the father, Christopher Few, had his hands raised inside his vehicle while the two deputies collectively fired 18 shots. At least four of those bullets tore into Jeremy, who died within minutes.

The Avoyelles Parish jury found Stafford guilty on both counts, both by a 10-2 vote. Sentencing is scheduled for March 31.

After the verdicts, Stafford turned to hand his keys to his wife, Brittany, who sobbed as she fell into his arms.

Nobody from the victims' families spoke to the media after the verdicts, but one of Stafford's sisters did. "I ain't got nothing for Marksville," she said moments after her brother was taken from the Avoyelles Parish Courthouse to the Avoyelles Parish Detention Center.

"Poor little Jeremy. My heart goes out to the families," she said. "But the animal that Facebook, you news reporters, them people, the jury, that y'all tried to make my brother be, he's not that type of person."

One of Stafford's defense attorneys, Christopher LaCour, accused some law enforcement officers of not supporting Stafford.

"I saw an officer on trial, and I saw fellow officers not support him, at all," said LaCour. "This whole thing about blue lives matter makes me wanna laugh sometimes."

Another defense attorney, Jonathan Goins, said they would appeal the convictions.

Goins said they were thankful that Stafford was not convicted of second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Prosecutors John Sinquefield and Matthew Derbes thanked the jurors for their service.

"We would say that tonight, we did get justice for Jeremy," Sinquefield said.

Stafford testified that he never saw Few's hands raised up and that he didn't shoot to kill. He said repeatedly that he only shot to stop a threat, and that he believed Few intended to either run into some nearby woods, attack them or surrender.

Sinquefield asked Stafford if he had watched the body camera video recorded by a Marksville Police Department officer.

"I lived it," he said. "I didn't have to watch it."

Stafford hadn't seen photos of Jeremy after the bullets from his

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