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►  Bernie Sanders’ health care plan puts Democrats on the spot

Senator Bernie Sanders rode his impassioned liberal army of supporters through a tumultuous 2016, fighting to snatch the Democratic presidential nomination from Hillary Clinton. Now he’s disrupting the party anew, forcing Democrats to take sides over his plan to provide government-run health care for all.

The Vermont independent’s proposal, which he plans to unveil Wednesday, is thrilling the party’s progressive base and attracting many potential 2020 presidential hopefuls eager to align those activists behind them. Yet Democratic leaders are stopping short of embracing it, and others are warning it’s a political and policy trap.

Meanwhile, the so-called single-payer bill has Republicans gleefully anticipating wielding it as a campaign weapon, particularly against the 10 Democrats defending Senate seats in states Donald Trump won last year and where liberal voters are scarce.

“I’m not seeing any evidence single payer is attractive to the swing voters Democrats would need to win control of the House and Senate,” said Jim Hobart, a GOP political consultant. Using it against Democrats will be “a very inviting attack line,” he said.

Sanders evolved last year from a fringe senator to a major force commanding loyalty from progressive Democratic voters, activists and contributors. He could still seek the presidency in 2020, when he’d be 79. Clinton, in her new book, accuses him of inflicting lasting damage that hurt her chances of defeating Republican Donald Trump.

As described by aides, Sanders’ bill would essentially expand the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly to all Americans, covering virtually all medical needs except long-term nursing care. By Tuesday afternoon, it had been co-sponsored by at least 12 Democratic senators, including four other possible presidential contenders: Kamala Harris of California, Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

“The time is now for the United States to do what every other major country on Earth has done, and that is to guarantee health care to all people as a right and not a privilege,” Sanders said in a brief interview Monday. He declined to discuss his proposal’s political impact.

With Trump in the White House and Republicans controlling Congress, the bill has no chance of becoming law soon. But for many Democrats, it unfurls an irresistible mix of liberal policy goals: Universal health care and a simpler medical system that would be less expensive than today’s for many, likely financed with taxes exempting the poorest Americans while heavily hitting the rich and corporations.

Sanders’ plan is “a different value system, one where we all take care of each other and where health care is a right,” Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, told reporters Tuesday. He added, “This is no longer going to be a fringe position.”

Sanders has released no price tag. The version he advanced during his presidential campaign would have cost a huge $1.4 trillion a year.

A similar House bill by Representative John Conyers, D-Mich., has 117 co-sponsors, more than half that chamber’s Democrats, underscoring the concept’s growing acceptance in Democratic circles. Yet, others are keeping their distance.

Underscoring the unease, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, a long-time backer of the single-payer idea, declined to endorse Sanders’ measure Tuesday. She told reporters her focus is defending President Barack Obama’s health care law from the all-but-dead Republican attempt to repeal it. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said the single-payer plan is something to be considered.

While Senator Tammy Baldwin of the swing state Wisconsin is backing Sanders’ bill, Democrats facing tough re-election campaigns in GOP-tilting states are being more cautious. Senators Jon Tester of Montana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota say they prefer to improve the existing health care law, not scrap it.

Several others are offering alternatives that will let Democrats vote “yes” to expand government-provided health care without the all-in move Sanders wants.

Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, a potential presidential hopeful, said he’s pushing another bill with Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to let people over age 55 buy into Medicare, 10 years younger than now. Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., another 2020 presidential possibility, has his own Medicare buy-in plan.

Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which works for liberal candidates, said he supports multiple efforts to move toward universal coverage and warned that candidates who don’t back such efforts would be “forfeiting a degree of support.”

Still other Democrats see Sander’s proposal as a flat-out nightmare for the party that would make its candidates easy targets for the GOP.

Republicans are poised to paint it as a mammoth tax increase that puts government in control of health care, which the GOP has used as a potent attack line in the past. It would wrest employer-provided health care away from the roughly half of Americans who get coverage that way, a disruption for about 150 million people.

“It’s laughable,” Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La., said of Sanders’ bill, saying it would appeal to voters “who don’t understand the expense of it.” Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said the measure was aimed at “a section of the Democratic base that needs to be appealed to.”

And as the GOP’s failed effort to repeal Obama’s 2010 law has demonstrated, opponents can latch onto a plan’s details to shove its popularity downward. A June poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that while a slight majority favor single payer, support fell significantly when people were told it would mean government control, higher taxes and replacing Obama’s 2010 statute.

“There’s a Sanders grassroots that aims to pressure Democrats to support this and make it a litmus test, which would be a disaster,” said Jim Kessler, a senior vice president for Third Way, a Democratic centrist group.

►  U.S.: 2 more Americans were affected by Cuba health attacks

Two more Americans have been confirmed to be affected by unexplained health attacks against U.S. diplomats in Cuba, the United States said Tuesday, raising the total number of victims to 21.

The additional two individuals appear to be cases that were only recently reported but occurred in the past. The State Department said no new, medically confirmed “incidents” have taken place since the most recent one in late August. Earlier this month, the U.S. disclosed there had been another incident in August after previously saying the attacks had stopped.

It’s possible the number could grow even higher as more cases are discovered. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. continues to assess American personnel.

The U.S. citizens were members of the American diplomatic community, the U.S. said. Officials have said previously that the incidents, deemed “health attacks” by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, affected diplomats posted to the Embassy in Havana along with family members who live with them.

The U.S. didn’t say how serious the newly disclosed incidents were. But the State Department said it was providing “the best possible medical evaluation and care” throughout the ordeal, including aid from a medical officer on staff at the embassy.

The union representing American diplomats has said mild traumatic brain injury is among the diagnoses given to some diplomats victimized in the attacks. The American Foreign Service Association has said permanent hearing loss was another diagnosis, and additional symptoms had included brain swelling, severe headaches, loss of balance and “cognitive disruption.”

The evolving U.S. assessment indicated investigators were still far from any thorough understanding of what transpired in the attacks, which started in the fall of 2016. The U.S. has described them as unprecedented.

As the bizarre saga has unfolded, the U.S. has encouraged its diplomats to report any strange physical sensations. So it’s unclear whether some symptoms being attributed to the attacks might actually turn out to be unrelated.

Notably, the U.S. has avoided accusing Cuba’s government of being behind the attacks. The U.S. did expel two Cuban diplomats, but the State Department emphasized that was in protest of the Cubans’ failure to protect the safety of American diplomats while on their soil, not an indication the U.S. felt that Havana masterminded it.

U.S. investigators have been searching to identify a device that could have harmed the health of the diplomats, believed to have been attacked in their homes in Havana, but officials have said no device had been found.

►  White House: New law not needed for Islamic State fight

The Trump administration has adequate legal authority to combat terrorist groups and doesn’t support a push in Congress for a new law permitting military action against the Islamic State and other militants, a senior White House official said Tuesday.

The comments Tuesday by White House legislative director Marc Short came as Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky ramped up pressure on his colleagues to reassert their power to decide whether to send American troops into harm’s way. Paul, a leader of the GOP’s non-interventionist wing, wants a vote on his amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would let the authorizations after the September 11 attacks lapse after six months. He says Congress would use the time to pass a new war authority.

Many congressional Republicans and Democrats have been clamoring for Congress to approve a new authorization for the use of military force. But they’re moving too slowly for Paul, who’s demanding the deadline to ensure faster action.

Paul said Tuesday that Congress is supposed to make it difficult for the executive branch to go to war. But Congress has “lost (its) way” and effectively allowed the president to unilaterally commit the nation to war.

“What we have today is basically unlimited war anywhere, anytime, anyplace upon the globe,” Paul said in a speech on the Senate floor.

Paul had earlier threatened to use his senatorial power to block amendments from other lawmakers to the $700 billion defense policy bill unless his measure was considered. He later said unidentified Senate leaders had “agreed to four hours of debate under my control to debate these wars.” It wasn’t certain, however, if that would culminate with a vote on his amendment.

“Today’s vote will be remembered as the first vote, if we have it, in 16 years on whether to continue fighting everywhere, all the time without ever having to renew the authorization of Congress,” Paul said.

To fight the Islamic State group, the Trump administration, as did the Obama administration, relies on an authorization for the use of military force that was approved by Congress in 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks.

But the White House’s use of an authorization from a decade and half ago is a legal stretch at best, according to critics who’ve argued for years that Congress needs to pass a new one to account for how the dynamics of the battlefield have changed. For example, American troops are battling an enemy — Islamic State militants — that didn’t exist 16 years ago in a country — Syria — that the U.S. didn’t expect to be fighting in.

A separate authorization for the war in Iraq approved in 2002 also remains in force.

The War Powers Resolution, enacted in 1973, requires the president to tell Congress he is sending U.S. troops into combat and prohibits those forces from remaining for more than 90 days unless Congress has approved an authorization for military force.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis informed lawmakers last month that the 2001 authorization provides sufficient authority to wage war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. But Tillerson and Mattis also said they’re open to an updated authorization provided the measure doesn’t impose tactically unwise restrictions or infringe on the president’s constitutional powers as commander in chief.

But Short, who spoke at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, said the administration isn’t looking for changes and stood by the 2001 authorization.

►  Big holdup for borrowers claiming for-profit college fraud

Tens of thousands of former students who say they were swindled by for-profit colleges are being left in limbo as the Trump administration delays action on requests for loan forgiveness, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The Education Department is sitting on more than 65,000 unapproved claims as it rewrites Obama-era rules that sought to better protect students. The rewrite had been sought by industry.

The for-profit college industry has found an ally in Donald Trump, who earlier this year paid $25 million to settle charges his Trump University misled customers. And it’s yet another example of the Trump administration hiring officials to oversee the industries where they had worked previously.

In August, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos picked Julian Schmoke Jr., a former associate dean at DeVry University, as head of the department’s enforcement unit. She also has tapped a top aide to Florida’s attorney general who was involved in the decision not to pursue legal action against Trump University to serve as the agency’s top lawyer. More than 2,000 requests for loan forgiveness are pending from DeVry students.

The Obama rules would have forbidden schools from forcing students to sign agreements that waived their right to sue. Defrauded students would have faced a quicker path to get their loans erased, and schools, not taxpayers, could have been held responsible for the costs.

Now, in a filing in federal court in California, acting Undersecretary James Manning says the department will need up to six months to decide the case of a former student at the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges and other cases like hers. Sarah Dieffenbacher, a single mother of four from California had taken out $50,000 in student loans to study to become a paralegal, but then couldn’t find a job in the field, defaulted on her debt and could face wage garnishment.

“ED will be able to issue a decision with regards to Ms. Dieffenbacher’s Borrower Defense claims within six months, as part of a larger group of Borrower Defense decisions regarding similar claims,” Manning wrote to the court on August 28.

Department spokesman Liz Hill said the agency is working to streamline the process and resolve the claims as quickly as possible. “Unfortunately, the Obama administration left behind thousands of claims, and we will need to set up a fair and equitable system to work through them,” she said.

She said students with claims pending are not required to make payments on their loans.

But Dieffenbacher says the delay is costing her family dearly.

“They should be protecting the students, because students were led to believe they were protected,” she said in an interview. “And they are not, they are protecting Corinthian Colleges and for-profit schools.”

Alec Harris, a lawyer with Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School who is representing Dieffenbacher, said the inaction could put his client and her children on the street.

“This is a Department of Education that has seemingly sided with industry and stacked the deck against former students of predatory for-profit schools every step of the way,” Harris said.

Reid Setzer, government affairs director for Young Invincibles, an advocacy and research group, said the department’s delay is harming thousands of students.

“It’s kind of ridiculous,” Setzer said. “There have been massive delays since the change of administration.”

The Obama administration went hard after for-profit colleges that lured students into taking big loans with false promises. Chains including Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute were forced to close, and Obama’s Education Department approved about $655 million in loan cancellations for their students.

Under DeVos, no claims have been approved since she came to office seven months ago, according to Manning’s July response to questions from Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, who is part of a group of lawmakers pressuring her to accelerate the process. The department is in the process of discharging loans for claims that had been approved by the previous administration.

Among the claims still pending are more than 45,000 filed by Corinthian students and over 7,000 by ITT students.

DeVos is working on rewriting two Obama-era regulations that were meant to prevent colleges from misrepresenting their services to students and from failing to provide them with an education that would enable them to find jobs.

In an interview with the AP last month, DeVos said, “Let’s be clear, no student should be defrauded, and in case of fraud there should be remedy. But we also know this approach has been unevenly applied, and if there’s going to be regulation around some institutions we believe it needs to be fairly applied across the board.”

Democratic attorneys general from 18 states and the District of Columbia filed suit against DeVos in July over the rules, which were finalized under President Barack Obama and scheduled to take effect July 1.

“Since Day One of the Trump administration, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the administration have sided with for-profit schools over students,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey told reporters at the time.

“It seems more like they are trying to protect the industry than trying to help borrowers,” said Clare McCann, deputy director for federal higher education policy with New America, a Washington-based think tank.

DeVos’ announcement about the Schmoke hiring was met with criticism by Democrats. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut tweeted, “This is a joke, right?”

The department defended its decision, saying Schmoke served only in an academic capacity at DeVry and was not involved in admissions, recruitment or corporate administrative activities.

Other Trump administration agencies also have hired staffers who previously worked on behalf of the industry they now regulate. For example, Nancy Beck, deputy assistant administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, used to work at the American Chemistry Council, the industry’s leading trade group.

►  U.S. moves to help locate unexploded bombs in Mosul

A top American military commander has declassified 81 locations of unexploded bombs dropped by the U.S.-led coalition in the battle to oust Islamic State militants from the Iraqi city of Mosul. And officials are considering similar disclosures for other areas, in a rare step to help aid groups and contractors clear explosives from war-ravaged Iraqi cities.

Lt. General Stephen Townsend, in a newly released memo, said he was providing a list of geographic coordinates “for the sake of public safety.” The list, he said, includes the type of munition and the latitude and longitude of the expected location, “so that duly authorized experts may more easily locate, render safe, and dispose of possible coalition unexploded ordnance.”

Townsend told a small group of reporters in Baghdad last month that he would seek a way for the military to help groups find bombs that didn’t detonate after they were dropped in coalition airstrikes in Mosul.

The military does not normally release that list of classified data, although there are ongoing international and U.S. programs, with millions of dollars in aid, that work to clean up explosives around the world, including minefields.

The coalition’s unexploded bombs are part of a wider problem in Mosul. The bulk of the explosives remaining around the city were hidden by IS fighters to be triggered by the slightest movement, even picking up a seemingly innocent child’s toy, lifting a vacuum cleaner, or opening an oven door. The effort could continue wreaking destruction on Iraq’s second-largest city even though IS was defeated after a nine-month battle.

U.S. Embassy officials and contractors hired to root out the hidden explosives have described the extent of problem as unprecedented, saying IS littered the city with booby traps that will likely take years, if not decades, to uncover and clear.

Officials with the State Department’s conventional weapons destruction program said that right now they are focusing on areas in Iraq that have been liberated from Islamic State insurgents. But there are ongoing discussions with the military about getting similar data for unexploded bombs in Ramadi, Fallujah, Tikrit and other locations. Townsend’s decision came just days before he turned over command of the Iraq and Syria wars to Lt. General Paul Funk, after spending about a year in the warzone.

Sol Black, the State Department’s program manager, told The Associated Press that Townsend’s action was “one of the fastest turnarounds” for that type of request that he’d seen. He said the data is being shared with Iraqi authorities and will feed into mapping software that tracks the explosive remnants of war.

Officials are still waiting for the full survey to be completed in Mosul before they have an accurate estimate of how many explosives still remain there. It is, said Black, “one of the most heavily contaminated places that we’ve seen.” As an example, he said, Janus Global Operations, a contracting company hired to find and remove hidden explosive devices and unexploded bombs from Iraqi cities, found 137 explosives in one water pipeline in Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul.

The priorities, said Black and Stan Brown, office director for the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, include clearing explosives from hospitals, water pump lines, power stations and the electrical grid, sanitation systems and schools. They said that a number of girls’ schools were bombed and destroyed by IS so they are likely to hold a number of explosives.

As much as 90 percent of west Mosul’s old city was reduced to ruins, destroyed by the IS militants who occupied it for nearly three years and by the campaign of airstrikes and ground combat needed to retake the city.

It has been littered with hidden explosives that officials say became far more innovative and sophisticated as time went on. The explosives range from basic pressure plates in the roads or doorways to small devices, similar to ones that turn on a refrigerator light when the door is opened. They’re tucked into dresser drawers or smoke detectors, or buried under large piles of rubble that were pushed aside as Iraqi forces cleared roads to move through the city.

Looking ahead, Black said an advance team is now on the ground in Tal Afar, which also has been liberated from IS. They are working with local Iraqis to identify what areas or facilities need to be cleared first.

►  Trump meeting with Malaysian prime minister under scrutiny

Donald Trump praised Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak for his country’s financial investments in U.S. companies during a meeting Tuesday at the White House and thanked him for helping to fight Islamic State militants.

Left unsaid by either leader: anything about the massive corruption scandal swirling around Najib’s multibillion-dollar state fund.

Malaysia’s government has said it found no criminal wrongdoing at the fund, called 1MDB and founded by Najib. But it has been at the center of investigations in the U.S. and several countries amid allegations of a global embezzlement and money-laundering scheme.

The U.S. Justice Department says people close to Najib stole billions of dollars, and the federal government is working to seize $1.7 billion it says was taken from the fund to buy assets in the U.S.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later Tuesday that she was “not aware” of the corruption accusation coming up during Trump’s conversations with Najib.

At their meeting, Trump and Najib instead focused on areas of agreement, such as economic development and counterterrorism measures when they spoke during a public appearance in the Cabinet room of the White House.

“Mr. Prime Minister, it’s a great honor to have you in the United States and in the White House,” Trump said.

Flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Mike Pence, the president crossed his arms and listened raptly as Najib described Malaysia’s purchase of billions of dollars’ worth of aircraft from Chicago-based Boeing. Trump said the deal is worth $10 billion to $20 billion.

Trump also pointed out that Malaysia is a “massive investor in the United States in terms of stocks and bonds.”

“They have to be very happy because we are hitting new highs on almost a weekly basis,” Trump said. “We’re very proud of our stock market, what’s happened since I became president.”

On fighting ISIS, Najib said his country would do its part to “keep our part of the world safe.” And he encouraged Trump to continue building partnerships in the region.

“The key is to support moderate and progressive Muslim regimes and governments around the world because that is the true face of Islam,” Najib said.

Najib has resisted calls to resign, has clamped down on critics and continues to enjoy the unwavering support of most ruling-party members, but his real test will come in general elections due by mid-2018.

Senior opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang said many Malaysians viewed Najib’s White House visit as a “national humiliation and shame” as he is tainted by the 1MDB financial saga.

Analysts said Najib hoped to dispel the corruption scandal and secure political legitimacy with the White House visit.

“He can tell Malaysians that the 1MDB is a non-issue and that the opposition’s message that he is unwelcome by world leaders is not true. He will also try to convey the impression that the U.S. investigation on 1MDB has nothing to do with him,” said James Chin, who heads the Asia Institute in Australia’s University of Tasmania.

Najib’s entourage was spotted several times at the Trump International Hotel, down the street from the White House. Trump stepped away from his global real estate, marketing and property management company when he took office, but he has not cut financial ties with it.

Sanders said Tuesday that the White House had nothing to do with choosing the accommodations of visiting foreign dignitaries. She said she did not believe Najib was trying to curry favor with Trump by staying at his hotel.

►  Senate GOP struggles with deficit in work on budget, taxes

Senate Republicans are struggling with how many billions of dollars Donald Trump’s tax code overhaul will add to the deficit as they work on a GOP budget plan that’s a prerequisite to any far-reaching change in the nation’s tax system.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP members of the Budget Committee met Tuesday with two top Trump administration officials to make progress on forging the budget plan, which is required to stave off potential Democratic blocking tactics and pass the subsequent tax bill only with GOP votes.

The as-yet-undrafted bill to overhaul the tax code is the top priority for Trump and Republicans after the collapse of their effort to dismantle Barack Obama’s health care law. Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with McConnell, R-Ky., and budget panel members.

“From my standpoint, let’s set ourselves up for success on tax reform,” Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., a member of the committee, said before the meeting.

The meeting ended in late afternoon without specific proposed numbers for the size of the budget coming forward. Not wanting to show disappointment, participants stressed that it was intended to be preliminary.

Finance Committee Chairman Senator Orrin Hatch said afterward that the group, which discussed the broad outlines of the deficit trade-off for a new tax bill, had not reached an agreement. Hatch, R-Utah, said he expected more information to come soon.

Mnuchin signaled ahead of the meeting that the administration would be open to changes sought by lawmakers to improve the chances for passage of a tax overhaul this year. In an interview with CNBC, Mnuchin also said the administration would “absolutely” consider making tax cuts retroactive to the start of this year if overhaul legislation didn’t pass until 2018.

In addition, the administration would consider including an infrastructure spending bill as part of the tax legislation, Mnuchin said.

“This is a pass-fail exercise,” Mnuchin said, indicating that the critical goal was to enact legislation. “Passing tax reform, which hasn’t been done in 31 years, that is a win,” he said.

Capitol Hill Republicans have promised that the tax rewrite will be “revenue neutral” and not add to the nation’s $20 trillion-plus debt, but they are in fact counting on budget maneuvers to find hundreds of billions of dollars to help maximize cuts to corporate and individual tax rates. For starters, they are going to assume the tax legislation will mean higher economic growth and greater future tax revenues.

Underscoring the president’s desire for tax legislation, Trump was hosting a bipartisan group of senators for dinner at the White House on Tuesday, including a trio of moderate Democrats from states Trump won last November and whose votes he’d like to have on a tax bill.

Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana are to be joined at dinner by Republican Senators John Thune of North Dakota, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Orrin Hatch of Utah, the White House said.

Manchin, Heitkamp and Donnelly are the only Democratic senators who did not sign a letter addressed to Republican leaders and Trump that said the Democratic caucus would not support a tax overhaul that cuts taxes for the “top 1 percent” or adds to the government’s $20 trillion debt.

Heitkamp traveled with Trump aboard Air Force One to an event in her home state last week where he spoke broadly about the tax plan. Trump pitched the senator on the overhaul, calling her a “good woman.” Heitkamp said after the event that she needs to see the details first.

House action has been held up by a battle between moderates and conservatives over whether to pair spending cuts with the filibuster-proof tax measure. Senate action has been on hold while the House struggles.

An impasse could doom the tax overhaul effort.

GOP aides say the Senate panel is also likely to reject a House plan to link $200 billion in spending cuts to the tax legislation — a key demand of House conservatives.

The momentum toward deficit-financed tax cuts runs counter to the longtime promises from top Capitol Hill leaders that this year’s effort to rewrite the tax code wouldn’t add to the government’s $20 trillion-plus national debt. And it sets up a scenario in which many of the promised new tax rates would expire after 10 years. That’s because of the Senate’s arcane rules.

On the budget panel, Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., is hoping to limit the deficit cost of the tax effort, while Toomey is on the other end of the spectrum favoring more robust deficit-financed tax cuts. GOP leaders have asked them to try to craft an agreement among the 12 budget panel Republicans. Any Republican defection on the budget plan would deadlock the narrowly divided committee.

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