National News

Gov. Sam Brownback delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the Kansas Legislature in Topeka, Kan., on Jan. 10. Lawmakers are considering whether to expand Medicaid, which Brownback opposes.

As ACA Repeal Vote Nears, Kansas Debates Expanding Medicaid

Kansas lawmakers know they are late to the Medicaid expansion party, but they appear determined to show up anyway.

"I feel like now is as good a time as any," says Anthony Hensley, the leader of the Democratic minority in the state Senate.

For the past three years, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and legislative leaders were able to block debate on expanding health care for the disabled and working poor via Medicaid, a component of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Not anymore.

A pair of studies show declines in opioid use by young people, including prescription use, intentional misuse and accidental poisonings.

Studies Suggest Cautious Optimism About Declines In Teen Opioid Use

In the midst of an opioid epidemic that continues to devastate families, a sliver of hope has arrived. Two long-term studies published Monday show that opioid use among teens and opioid poisonings among younger children are on the decline.

Anyone who has read or seen <em></em>Victor Hugo's masterpiece knows the plot of <em>Les Miserables</em> turns on the theft of a simple loaf of bread. There was no sharper barometer of economic status in 19th-century France than bread.

Let Them Eat Bread: The Theft That Helped Inspire 'Les Miserables'

On a bitterly cold day in February 1846, the French writer Victor Hugo was on his way to work when he saw something that affected him profoundly.

A thin young man with a loaf of bread under his arm was being led away by police. Bystanders said he was being arrested for stealing the loaf. He was dressed in mud-spattered clothes, his bare feet thrust into clogs, his ankles wrapped in bloodied rags in lieu of stockings.

"It made me think," wrote Hugo. "The man was no longer a man in my eyes but the specter of la misère, of poverty."

Neil Gorsuch appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

Republicans Praise Gorsuch, Democrats Decry Garland Treatment On Day 1 Of Hearings

The confirmation hearings of President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, began with Senate Judiciary Republicans praising his qualifications and legal philosophy.

"His grasp on the separation of powers — including judicial independence — enlivens his body of work," committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said of the federal appeals court judge during his opening remarks on Monday.

On of the notices posted marking the dual holiday honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., as posted at a Senate Education Committee hearing in Little Rock, Ark. Gov. Asa Hutchinson plans to sign into law two bills separating Lee from the King holiday.

Arkansas To Split Its Holidays For Martin Luther King Jr. And Robert E. Lee

Updated at 11:42 a.m. ET

With the stroke of a pen on Tuesday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is expected to separate a holiday that has for decades celebrated both Martin Luther King Jr. and Gen. Robert E. Lee in the state.

Under the bill that Hutchinson says he'll sign into law, King will have the third Monday of January entirely to himself, as dictated by federal law; Lee will now be commemorated in a state holiday on the second Saturday of October.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chair of the House Freedom Caucus, speaks during a news conference on Affordable Care Act replacement legislation in February.

Leading The Charge Against The GOP Health Plan, Rep. Mark Meadows Is Right At Home

In this corner of Appalachia, poverty takes a back seat to art galleries, country clubs, golf course communities, five-star restaurants, and multimillion-dollar houses.

From this perch in Highlands, N.C., Congressman Mark Meadows, a real estate entrepreneur who capitalized on the area's transformation to a prosperous retirement and vacation community, rose to political power quickly. Now, Meadows leads the House Freedom Caucus, controlling about 30 votes and showing few qualms about endangering his party's best chance to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, upon arriving at the Osan Air Base in South Korea last week.

The 'Tillerson Is Tired' Meme And Things That Happen In A News Vacuum

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's inaugural trip to East Asia was marred by misunderstandings that arguably could have been avoided had Tillerson followed decades-old practice and spoken for himself — to the State Department press corps aboard his plane.

But there was no State Department press corps aboard his plane.

Tillerson had one reporter along — from a conservative-leaning news site who does not cover the State Department. In another break with tradition, the reporter did not offer a pool report to colleagues on the ground.

President Trump attends a meeting on health care at the White House last week. The bill is facing opposition from all sides. Without its passage, everything else on Trump's agenda could be slowed.

Trump Faces Critical Phase, As He Tries To Make His Rhetoric Reality

Donald Trump likes to move fast.

But to this point, for all the bravado, executive actions and tweets, much of Trump's presidency has been showy without a lot of practical effect. For that to change, much of it could depend on the next three weeks. This critical phase could set his ambitious agenda on course or derail it.

Julia (center) first appeared online and in printed materials as a part of <em>Sesame Street</em>'s<a href="http://autism.sesamestreet.org/storybook-we-are-amazing/" target="_blank"> See Amazing in all Children</a> initiative. She'll now appear on TV as well. From left, Elmo, Alan Muraoka, Julia, Abby Cadabby and Big Bird.

Julia, A Muppet With Autism, Joins The Cast Of 'Sesame Street'

For the first time in a decade, the classic children's television show Sesame Street will introduce a new Muppet on the air.

Her name is Julia. She's a shy and winsome 4-year-old, with striking red hair and green eyes. Julia likes to paint and pick flowers. When Julia speaks, she often echoes what she's just heard her friends Abby and Elmo say. Julia has autism.

"There's so many people that have given her what she is. I'm just hoping to bring her the heart," says Stacy Gordon, the veteran puppeteer selected to play the part.

Tax Credits, Penalties And Age Rating: Parsing The GOP Health Bill

For years, Republicans in Congress have promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, claiming that its requirement for nearly everyone to buy insurance or pay a fine is burdensome and costly, and it doesn't give people enough flexibility to get the coverage they need.

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