Susan Davis

Susan Davis is a congressional reporter for NPR. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal, and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's "Washington Week" with Gwen Ifill. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C. and a Philadelphia native.

Updated 10 a.m. ET

Escalating tension between Capitol Hill and the White House is threatening the GOP's legislative agenda and testing the bonds of party unity under the Trump administration.

Before any hard battle, it's common to seek a little spiritual guidance.

In preparation for the coming fight this fall to overhaul the entire federal tax code, a group of House Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee traveled this week to Rancho del Cielo — the ranch of former President Ronald Reagan, outside Santa Barbara, Calif.

The ranch is where Reagan signed one of his major tax cuts into law, and the GOP is working this month to capture some of that Reagan-era magic to deliver a modern tax bill of its own.

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The White House says the fight over health care is not over, but on Capitol Hill, Republicans are ready to move on.

"The president isn't giving up on health care and neither should the Senate," Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney declared on CNN on Wednesday.

On the Senate floor that same morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, was already focused elsewhere.

Republicans are feeling pressure to deliver the first overhaul of the federal tax code in more than 30 years after the bruising collapse of long-promised health care legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

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The only thing that appears certain in the Senate when it comes to health care is that there will be a vote next week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made that clear after a senators-only lunch with President Trump at the White House.

The forecast from the Congressional Budget Office on Senate Republicans' latest health care strategy isn't great — but it's no surprise either.

The CBO estimates that legislation that repeals key pillars of the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") would trim $473 billion off the federal deficit, but result in 32 million fewer insured Americans in the next decade. It would also see premiums rise, and likely force private insurers to abandon the individual market.

And nearly every Republican has already voted for it.

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So Senate Republicans, it would appear, have their work cut out for them this week.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans will release a discussion draft of their version of the health care bill on Thursday, with a vote likely next week.

Private health care talks have been underway in the Senate for weeks. McConnell tapped a 13-member working group last month to hash out senators' differences over the House-passed American Health Care Act. McConnell's office has since taken the lead drafting the Senate version of the party's long-promised legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans are running way behind schedule.

In the dream scenario outlined by party leaders back in January, President Trump would have signed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, months ago. By early June, Republicans were supposed to be in the thick of overhauling the tax code.

Fourteen years later, Rep. Walter B. Jones still remembers with full clarity the day he started to regret his vote to go to war.

"This is the first funeral I went to that made me started thinking that I made the wrong decision of giving (President George W.) Bush the authority to go into Iraq," said Jones, pointing to a picture of Marine Sgt. Michael Bitz.

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The Senate is negotiating its own legislation to repeal and replace much of the Affordable Care Act in secret talks with senators hand-picked by party leaders and with no plans for committee hearings to publicly vet the bill.

"I am encouraged by what we are seeing in the Senate. We're seeing senators leading," said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, one of the 13 Republicans involved in the private talks. "We're seeing senators working together in good faith. We're not seeing senators throwing rocks at each other, either in private or in the press."

The House of Representatives is debating the GOP bill to repeal and replace the key pillars of President Obama's health care law. This is the same bill that was pulled from the House floor just over a month ago when it was clear Republicans didn't have the votes to pass it. Now, they think they do, and the House is on track to vote on the bill early Thursday afternoon.

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