The TAKE with Rick Klein
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It's time for President Donald Trump to choose.
In the intraparty war over Roy Moore, does Trump try to push him out of the race – aligning himself (again) with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell?
Or does he stay just enough removed from the Alabama Senate race to be one of the last Republicans standing, giving Steve Bannon's candidate a sliver of a chance to bounce back?
The answer could have lasting implications for governance and the midterm elections and maybe the future of the Republican Party.
The insider vs. outsider war has already been playing out – even in Alabama, of course, where Trump and McConnell couldn't stop Moore in the primary race. The stakes are even higher now in a defining political episode that's coinciding with the major cultural moment around powerful men and sexual misbehavior.
As Trump returns to work in Washington today, the official White House line remains that Moore should step aside "if these allegations are true."
Most leadership Republicans have now abandoned qualifiers in favor of outright calling for his exit.
Notably, Moore's latest fundraising appeal evokes Trump sliming his critics in the media: "It's the same playbook they used in their failed attempt to keep Donald Trump out of the White House." Moore goes on to attack McConnell and other Republicans he calls "vicious thugs."
It's not at all clear that Trump's urging would force Moore from the race. Moore won the primary in part with voters who felt like Trump was duped into supporting Sen. Luther Strange.
But as battle lines are drawn for 2018, the president's language matters.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
The last time Senate Republicans voted on scrapping key parts of the Affordable Care Act it didn't go so well for them.
But Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said on Fox News Tuesday he thinks Senate Republicans now have the votes to repeal the so-called "individual mandate, " the rule that requires Americans to have health insurance, one of the key pillars of the current law.
Republicans' plan, it seems, is to lump that repeal provision into the Senate tax reform package. When publicly confronted with those rumors, Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch first tried to dodge, but then copped to the idea.
Tacking on the partial Obamacare repeal is a major gamble.
It could help Republicans get the cost of their pricey tax cut legislation down a bit, but also add some potential political pitfalls. The Senate is looking to score wins with two top priorities in one swoop, but tying health care to tax reform could alienate key allies and put the Senate bill in peril.
"RED ALERT," Sen Al Franken tweeted at the news, "Senate GOP just added provision to their tax plan that would gut ACA & kick 13M people off insurance."
Repealing the mandate alone would not "kick" people off insurance, but it would result in 13 million more Americans without health insurance, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The research office says millions of Americans who buy their own coverage would be priced out of the market and unable to afford plans.
As a consolation, the Senate could also include the bipartisan bill from the health care committee that was designed to help stabilize prices in those individual insurance marketplaces.
But remember, that bill was written after the president vowed to stop paying the federal cost-reduction subsidies. Repealing the mandate would bring a different level of chaos to those markets.
The House bill does not include a repeal of the mandate at this point — though a growing chorus now want it included. The chamber has passed that before, but is unlikely to add it before voting this week.
The TIP with Katherine Faulders and Alexander Mallin
The Republican National Committee is cutting off its relationship with Roy Moore's campaign, terminating their joint fundraising agreement with him as well as a coordinated field program that consisted of about a dozen canvassers in Alabama.
The report first surfaced in POLITICO, the details of which were confirmed by two RNC officials to ABC News. The RNC has also updated its FEC filing online.
The move follows the National Republican Senate Committee's announcement Friday that it was withdrawing from its own fundraising agreement with Moore, a move that put the RNC under increasing pressure through the weekend to follow suit.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY:
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I will not accept, and reject, accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie." - Attorney General Jeff Sessions during congressional testimony on Tuesday.
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