* You might remember that during the Republican negotiations over excluding things like maternity care from the essential benefits required under Obamacare, this picture surfaced of a group of white men at the table making that call.

But according to Sarah Mimms, some Republican legislators have another way of excluding women from the conversation.

It’s no secret that Congress is dominated by men, but as women work to make inroads in the congressional boys club, some female staffers face a huge impediment to moving up: They’re not allowed to spend one-on-one time with their male bosses.

In an anonymous survey of female staffers conducted by National Journal in order to gather information on the difficulties they face in a male-dominated industry, several female aides reported that they have been barred from staffing their male bosses at evening events, driving alone with their congressman or senator, or even sitting down one-on-one in his office for fear that others would get the wrong impression.

Apparently VP Pence is one of those politicians who excludes women.

I’m going to give Mrs. Betty Bowers the last word on this.

* I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that this policy lines up with exactly what Vladimir Putin wants.

The United States is no longer making removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a focus of its policy in the war-torn country, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on Thursday.

“Our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out,” Ambassador Nikki Haley told a small group of reporters.

* I included this in an update earlier. But just in case you missed it, here is another example of Trump abandoning his so-called “populism.”

The Trump administration is signaling to Congress it would seek mostly modest changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement in upcoming negotiations with Mexico and Canada, a deal President Donald Trump called a “disaster” during the campaign…

…Jeffrey Schott, a trade scholar at the Peterson Institute for International Economics…noted that a number of the proposed negotiating objectives echo provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade pact among Pacific Rim countries. Mr. Trump campaigned heavily against the TPP.

* Of all the nutty ideas Republicans have come up with, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) might have come up with the nuttiest. He could have called it the “Let’s tax illegal immigrants to pay for Trump’s border wall” bill. Here’s how he describes it on his web page:

Remittances, or wire transfers, are commonly used by illegal immigrants to move money from the US to their home countries…

“In order to jumpstart the funding of the wall, I have introduced a bill to impose a 2% fee on remittances sent south of the border. This bill is simple – anyone who sends their money to countries that benefit from our porous borders and illegal immigration should be responsible for providing some of the funds needed to complete the wall. This bill keeps money in the American economy, and most importantly, it creates a funding stream to build the wall,” Rogers said.

* Finally, this is what I call a “slick burn.”

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Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.