BURR SAYS NO HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL LIKELY THIS YEAR: U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said Thursday he doesn’t expect the Senate to agree on a comprehensive plan to repeal and replace Obamacare by the end of the year. Burr, the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said the America Health Care Act the House passed is “dead on arrival” in the Senate and “it’s not a good plan.” In May, Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis told a conservative group in downtown Raleigh that he and his colleagues in the Senate would wait for a nonpartisan financial analysis of the health bill to be released, but that they would work to address needed changes to the House version of the bill. “I’m confident we’re going to get a bill to the president’s desk,” Tillis said at the time.
NC "MARCH FOR TRUTH" DEMONSTRATIONS SATURDAY PUSH FOR DEEPER INVESTIGATION OF TRUMP/RUSSIA: North Carolina critics of President Donald Trump are joining like-minded people across the country with rallies demanding swift investigations into possible Russian meddling during last year's election. At least four North Carolina cities are designated locations for Saturday "March for Truth" demonstrations nationwide. The protests are being organized by dozens of advocacy groups, which want an independent commission examining any Russian ties to the election or to the Trump campaign. Organizers of the march in downtown Raleigh hope at least a couple hundred people will attend. Other rallies are set for Asheville, Charlotte and Pinehurst.
PUTIN MAY BE THE REAL WINNER FROM TRUMP'S ARROGANCE IN EUROPE: The claim that the NATO visit was a rousing success overplays what were incremental adjustments, and ignores deep losses. But more than that, it helped create doubt among longtime allies that the United States remains what it has been since the alliance was formed 68 years ago, a firm friend. As Bobo Lo, a Russian expert and author on Russian policy, put it, the meeting in Brussels “was everything the Kremlin could have hoped for. Trans-Atlantic solidarity is unraveling, and not only is the United States losing the ability to lead the Western world, the president doesn’t seem much to care. That meeting was a pretty unequivocal win for Putin.”
STACEY ABRAMS SETS HER SIGHTS ON GEORGIA GOVERNOR'S MANSION: "I think whatever challenges there are, we should imagine ourselves to be capable of employing every single Georgian," Abrams told the AP this week. "We should imagine ourselves capable of eliminating generational poverty. We should imagine ourselves capable of prosperity, where we are not talking simply about a living wage - we're talking about wealth." Abrams has been the top Democrat in the Georgia House since 2010 - the first woman and the first African American to hold the post. She would make history again if voters choose her as term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal's successor: She would be the first African-American woman to become a governor in the U.S.
NC HOUSE COMMITTEE APPROVES MOVING NC PRIMARIES FROM MAY TO MARCH: North Carolinians could vote earlier than usual in future primary elections for president and statewide offices. A House committee voted Thursday for a bill to permanently change the primaries from the Tuesday following the first Monday in May to the same time-frame in March. The legislature shifted the 2016 primary to March 15 so the state could wield more influence over the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations. A March primary would also mean incumbents and potential candidates must decide sooner whether they’ll run, with filing season beginning in December.