Ron Elving

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

In the Rose Garden last week President Trump and the House Republican leadership celebrated their vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as though it had actually repealed and replaced the 2010 law colloquially known as Obamacare.

It had not, of course. Several more giant steps remain in the process. And more than a few of these same Republicans may well be grateful.

President Trump has a flair — perhaps a genius — for counter-programming, which can be described as the art of upstaging your rivals just when they think they're about to have their spotlight moment.

He did it countless times as a candidate, eclipsing all the other Republican contenders and the Democrats as well. He demonstrated his prowess again on the 100th day of his presidency, rallying a blue-collar crowd in Pennsylvania and shunning the annual black-tie White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.

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RAY SUAREZ, HOST:

Ever since election night last November, millions in America and around the world have wondered what happened to Hillary Clinton, who was widely expected to become the first female president of the United States.

In fact, nearly everyone in the business of politics thought she would win, including many of Trump's own people.

So how did she lose?

This was to have been the week when President Trump turned his fledgling presidency around, setting a course for success and letting the wind fill its sails at last.

Instead, it became his worst week to date, ending with the ship becalmed and its crew in disarray. After other controversies had spoiled the weather, the Republicans proved unable to muster the votes to pass their repeal-and-replace Obamacare bill in the House. The president and Speaker Paul Ryan had to call off the vote scheduled on the floor — not once but twice.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

And to help us understand what's happening on Capitol Hill tonight, I am joined by NPR's Ron Elving. Hello there, Ron.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Kelly.

In a hearing that stretched through nearly 12 hours Tuesday, the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch took a long step toward Senate confirmation.

Barring an utterly unforeseen reversal when the questioning resumes Wednesday, observers expect Judiciary Committee approval along party lines on April 3 and a similar win on the Senate floor.

Twenty senators took turns asking questions for half an hour each. The Republicans tried to get the country to share their affinity for the nominee. The Democrats tried to tie him to President Trump.

Updated at 10:28 a.m. ET

Donald Trump's first speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night was the occasion for his most presidential performance to date, balancing a reprise of his angry campaign themes with a recitation of hopes and dreams for the nation.

It was his most successful, if not his first, effort at assuming the public persona and personal demeanor associated with his new office. He stuck to the script on his teleprompter, spoke graciously to individuals in the audience and refrained from attacks on critics, rivals or adversaries.

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