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    Republican Senators headed home for the weekend still at odds over the details of a GOP bill to overhaul the Obama health law, as Senate leaders vowed to press ahead early next week with a first procedural vote on the matter, though it still isn’t clear what exactly the GOP might vote on in an effort to break the deadlock on this top agenda item of President Donald Trump. “The Democrats did their bill on their own, and obviously it’s got flaws that I think everyone would recognize; Republicans are beginning to feel like we’re getting into that same mode, if you want to be honest,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who said he worried that the GOP plan was being slapped together without an overall grand plan. With a procedural vote expected next week on a motion to start debate on the bill, it wasn’t even clear for Senators what GOP leaders would offer on the floor as an alternative to the House-passed health care bill. “I’m not yet decided,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) told a group of reporters pursuing him in the hallways of the Capitol. “It depends what’s in the bill.” And on that point, GOP leaders didn’t have an answer on the details. 'That's a luxury we don't have' – @JohnCornyn when asked 'don't some people want to know the plan before they vote' on health care. — Kelsey Snell (@kelsey_snell) July 20, 2017 GOP Senators were being pursued every-which-way-possible at the Capitol complex, as reporters sought the latest update on the health care bill. Down in the basement of the Capitol, as Senators arrived for votes, Democrats would walk by – and sometimes not one reporter would move; a few seconds later, a Republican Senator would walk off the subway, and was immediately mobbed by reporters. Sen Heller went for the taco salad pic.twitter.com/oNexT1St3z — Erica Werner (@ericawerner) July 20, 2017 “I think they want to talk to you,” a smiling Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said as reporters descended upon him and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-ND), who sold insurance for many years in his home state. “With the Obamacare model that’s in place today, you’re going to have increases in deductibles and co-pays,” Rounds argued to reporters, though GOP Senators haven’t rallied around what their full answer should be to reverse that. “You just have people committed to trying to fix this problem,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who has repeatedly made clear his frustration with how GOP leaders have tried to put together this bill. And that has led some Republicans to openly worry about how the GOP is forging a final plan. “It’s feeling a little bazaar like – like a bidding war right now,” Corker said. Demonstrating some of the frustration of the moment, Corker even suggested that his party go back to the idea of repealing large chunks of the Obama health law – without anything to replace it. “I am beginning to feel that the best way to do it would be just to repeal – set a two or three year transition period, and force both parties to get together,” Corker said. But there did not seem to be enough GOP votes for that idea. “Senate Republicans complain of chaos in healthcare effort,” was one headline in my morning email inbox – as it’s not clear which way the GOP is going on health care reform at this point. In the House, GOP lawmakers could only sit back and wait. “I’m hopeful that we’ll see the Senate try to regroup, look at the issue, and try to work it out,” said Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK). “I continue to trust that the Senate will do their job,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). Not only is there some frustation with the Senate among GOP lawmakers, but a little with the White House as well. “I really lay a lot of the blame on the Trump Administration itself,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH). “The President hasn’t really shown leadership and guidance on what the plan should be, and it’s left several different groups to work together to try to fashion one,” Turner said.
  • A day after a newspaper interview in which President Donald Trump raised questions about his choice for the job of Attorney General, the White House expressed public support for Jeff Sessions, saying Mr. Trump “has confidence in his ability” to lead the Department of Justice. “He was disappointed,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of the President’s view of Sessions and his recusal earlier this year from any involvement in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and possible links to the Trump campaign. “But clearly he has confidence in him or he would not be the Attorney General,” Sanders told reporters at an off-camera White House briefing. Sarah Sanders said if Trump didn't have confidence in Jeff Sessions as attorney general 'he wouldn't be in that position.' — Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) July 20, 2017 It was a much different answer than one publicly given to reporters in early June, when news surfaced of Mr. Trump’s frustration with Sessions and the Russia probe recusal, as the White House at that point refused to give any answer on whether the President wanted Sessions to quit. Here is the exchange between reporters and Spicer on the subject of Trump/Sessions pic.twitter.com/WF59VZ5E9q — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) June 6, 2017 Back then, supporters of Mr. Trump claimed the New York Times story was ‘fake news,’ but the President’s own words – in a New York Times interview on Wednesday – confirmed that Trump-Sessions frustration scenario. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else,” the President told a group of New York Times reporters. Earlier in the day at an unrelated news conference, the Attorney General was asked by reporters about Mr. Trump’s remarks, and gave no hint about possibly resigning. AG Sessions: 'I have the honor of serving as attorney general…I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate.' pic.twitter.com/suukiMokyE — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 20, 2017 Back in June, it was reported that Sessions – stung by the President’s frustration over the Russia-recusal matter – had offered to resign his post. Sessions was the very first GOP Senator to endorse Mr. Trump, in late February of 2016. In Congress, Democrats seized on Mr. Trump’s remarks, saying it was obvious that the President wanted someone in the job of Attorney General who would squelch the Russia investigation. “The smoke billows higher and higher,” said Rep. Don McEachin (D-VA), “the fire is likely not too far behind.”
  • President Donald Trump marks six full months in office on Thursday, still pressing lawmakers in the House and Senate to act on a bill to overhaul the Obama health law, as the Republican Congress continues to struggle on a variety of fronts to produce a major legislative victory for Mr. Trump, with no action yet on tax cuts, a balanced budget or government reforms. But the President’s backers argue that while his agenda is not moving at top speed in the Congress, he has had successes in some areas. Let’s take a look at where Mr. Trump stands: 1. Biggest Trump success remains Justice Gorsuch. Ask just about anyone on Capitol Hill about the President’s record so far, and they will probably talk about getting Neil Gorsuch on the U.S. Supreme Court. For conservatives, this is a very big deal, and the few rulings that Gorsuch was involved in at the end of the 2016-2017 term seemed to indicate that he will be a justice in the mold of his predecessor, Antonin Scalia. The best part about this achievement is that Gorsuch is only 49 years old – he will turn 50 next month – meaning he could be on the U.S. Supreme Court, and leave his imprint on the law, for several decades. Any conservative who is not celebrating @realDonaldTrump for the supreme court justice Neil Gorsuch is a hypocrite — Benjamin (@BenjCharis) July 19, 2017 2. Crackdown on illegal immigration yields big changes. In terms of policy so far, the President’s tough line on enforcing existing immigration laws, and deporting illegal immigrants has already been a success for the President. As of the end of June, the feds had arrested almost 66,000 people for being in the U.S. illegally – 48,000 of those people had been convicted of a crime. “73 percent — of everyone we have arrested were criminals, something that’s been lost in the messaging on immigration enforcement,” said Tom Homan, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The numbers from along the border are also a big change, and something that most Republicans see as a big plus for the President. Border Patrol union chief praises 'miraculous' drop in illegal immigration under Trump https://t.co/SJRfQ5Uvzc — Drew McKissick (@DrewMcKissick) July 19, 2017 3. Rolling back Executive Branch regulations. In terms of administrative change, just by being in charge, President Trump has forced change in various federal agencies, rolling back or slowing or changing a host of rules that had been planned during the Obama Administration. Congress also got in on the action, by approving 14 different resolutions that overturned specific regulations approved late in the Obama Administration, which is really the most significant action by lawmakers so far in terms of legislation. Getting rid of regulations is a big winner with Trump supporters, many of whom believe the Obama Administration was strangling business with all sorts of red tape and government requirements. Remove burdensome business regulations. When their operating costs go down and profits go up, they will hire more Americans. Trump gets it. — norcalgunguy (@norcalgunguy) July 13, 2017 4. Trump shakes things up at the White House. The televised White House briefing has become an endangered species over recent months, as the President’s communications team has seemingly decided to keep the daily briefing off TV. (I’m not complaining about that – they’re in charge, and they set the rules.) Originally, the Trump Team was going to shake things up in the briefing by bringing in more conservative voices to the briefing room, and by using “Skype seats” to bring in questions from outside of Washington, in hopes of generating friendlier queries about the Trump agenda. But those efforts didn’t make much of an impact at all. Refusing to call on CNN or the New York Times didn’t have much of an impact, either. And not televising the briefing is a dual-edged sword – yes, you don’t have reporters possibly playing ‘gotcha’ with their questions – but you don’t give your own administration an elevated voice on TV, either. The last on camera White House briefing was June 29. — Hunter Walker (@hunterw) July 18, 2017 5. Trump Agenda still on slow-motion in Congress. One thing that President Trump has not been able to do is translate his election win into action by lawmakers in the Congress on major agenda items. Yes, the GOP passed a series of special resolutions to repeal certain regulations of the Obama Administration. But health care remains in limbo at this point, and there has been no action as yet on tax reform, the Trump $1 trillion infrastructure plan, lawmakers are ignoring much of the President’s budget, and no votes have been taken yet on money for the wall along the border with Mexico. Again, we are only six months in to the Trump Administration, so there is still a lot of time to get things done. But there is also the chance that Mr. Trump may have a skimpy record of legislative achievements as the calendar turns in the rest of 2017. This is one area where the Trump team – and GOP leaders in Congress – need to buckle down, and figure out how to turn things in the right direction. 6. Russia probe not going away anytime soon. With his latest interview for the New York Times showing again how the Russia probe deeply aggravates him, President Trump will not be able to escape the matter in coming months. Next week, his son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to appear before two Senate committees, his son Donald Jr. will be at one hearing, along with Kushner and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Also hanging over everything is the probe being led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who is assembling a top notch team of prosecutors and investigators. The President’s own frustration has boiled over repeatedly on this matter, especially on Twitter, and in many ways, that has only expanded the investigation because of things Mr. Trump has said. Whether you think it’s right or not, Russia will continue to be a big deal. In Interview, Trump Expresses Anger at Sessions and Comey, and Warns Mueller @peterbakernyt @nytmike and me https://t.co/0guEatTwyc — Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) July 19, 2017 7. Trump’s impulsive nature drives his Presidency. Just as his interview last night with the New York Times made headlines that advisers probably had not planned for, Mr. Trump’s ways often seem to overshadow the political debates on major issues – like in recent days on health care, as the President has been all over the road on the issue. One day he was for repeal and replace, then he was advocating straight repeal, then saying he would do nothing and let the current system collapse, and then again endorsing efforts at repeal and replace. The back and forth has often left GOP lawmakers a bit exasperated, worried that the President isn’t using the bully pulpit as effectively as possible. Mr. Trump had a very strong statement on Wednesday on health care – but those have been rare in recent months. In a span of 36 hours, Trump has taken 3 different positions on what should be tried next on health care pic.twitter.com/PEt4lLEdKJ — Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) July 19, 2017
  • Changing his mind yet again on health care, President Donald Trump on Wednesday directly urged Republicans in the Senate to keep searching for a deal on a bill to overhaul the Obama health law, spurring a new flurry of negotiations among GOP Senators, as top Republicans vowed to hold a vote next week to start debate on the health care plan. “There is a large majority in our conference that want to demonstrate to the American people that they intend to keep the commitment they made in four straight elections to repeal Obamacare,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We came from that meeting with a renewed commitment to keep working, to keep negotiating, and to get to yes,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). “In my view, failure is not an option,” Cruz told reporters outside the U.S. Capitol. . @SenTedCruz: We came from that meeting with a renewed commitment. Failure is not an option. For 7 years Republicans have promised repeal. pic.twitter.com/NSQnZg2MhT — FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) July 19, 2017 At the White House, the President had made a similar appeal. “We should hammer this out and get it done,” the President told Senators over lunch, as he said lawmakers should not leave town for their August vacation until that job is finished, and a bill is signed into law. “The people of this country need more than a repeal – they need a repeal and a replace,” Mr. Trump said. The President’s remarks were a notable turnaround from a day before, when he said Republicans should just let the Obama health law fail on its own; earlier in the week, he had suggested simply repealing the law, and waiting on a replacement. What happened to Trump's 'Let Obamacare fail'? 'That's not the responsible thing to do,' said @SenRonJohnson — Lisa Mascaro (@LisaMascaro) July 19, 2017 “I would say there is no question the meeting gave a boost to the effort,” on health care, said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). “I just hope we get over the line.” “He feels like we’re very close to getting there,” Corker said of the President, as the Tennessee Republican downplayed the President’s latest shift on what he wants out of the Congress on health care. A group of Senators were set to meet tonight at the Capitol to go over problems they had with some of the details, and to find a way forward. “I think we are substantially there,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), though he acknowledged there are obviously differences. “They are key.” “The President very much emphasized that there has to be a replace with the repeal,” Cassidy added. After the meeting, the Senate Majority Leader told reporters that he still plans to go ahead with a procedural vote next week on the Senate floor, to officially begin debate on the health care issue. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “Next week, we’ll be voting on the motion to proceed” https://t.co/5gcAJkN5J5 — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 19, 2017 “We had a really good meeting with the President,” McConnell said as he returned to the Capitol. Whether that can bridge the gaps and thread the needle for Senate Republicans remains the big question.
  • President Donald Trump gave his strong support to a special commission tasked with uncovering voter fraud in the United States, telling the first meeting of the group that it’s time to find out more about illegal votes possibly “canceling out the votes of lawful American citizens.” “Any form of illegal or fraudulent voting – whether by non-citizens or the deceased,” Mr. Trump said, “must be stopped.” “Every time voter fraud occurs, it cancels out the vote of a lawful citizen, and undermines democracy,” the President added. “Can’t let that happen,” Mr. Trump said. Trump says people have told him of 'voter irregularities…in some cases having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states' pic.twitter.com/FypOe3nvOR — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 19, 2017 “This commission is tasked with the sacred duty of upholding the integrity of the ballot box, and the principle of one citizen, one vote,” Mr. Trump added. The President also took a clear jab at states – controlled by both parties – which have refused to cooperate and turn over the voter information requested by this panel. “If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they’re worried about,” Mr. Trump said. “What are they worried about?” the President asked with a tone of skepticism. “There is something, there always is.” President Trump on states that refused to share voter information: 'One has to wonder what they're worried about' https://t.co/rIic2jaUqd — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 19, 2017 Critics savaged the panel even before the first official meeting occurred, charging it was nothing but an effort at voter suppression. “This isn’t a war on voter fraud. It’s a war on voters – and it’s only being waged by Republicans,” said Democratic national party chief Tom Perez.
  • With GOP efforts in Congress on hold to overhaul the Obama health law, Republican leaders threatened to force wayward GOP Senators to go on the record and publicly record their vote in opposition to plans to repeal chunks of the Obama health law, but such a health care showdown on the Senate floor was put off until at least early next week. “As of today, we just simply do not have 50 senators that can agree on what ought to replace the existing law,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been unable to solve what he called the ‘Rubik’s Cube’ inside the GOP on health care. “I was hopeful that we would be moving to a vote this week,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). “But obviously, that’s not going to happen.” Here’s the latest on where health care overhaul stands on Capitol Hill: 1. The inaction on health care is all on Republicans. There was no Senate filibuster involved as Republicans watched their effort to overhaul the Obama health law implode on Tuesday. The GOP has the majority in the House – they could barely pass their health care bill there. The GOP has the majority in the Senate – and hasn’t been able to pass anything. 60 votes were not needed in the Senate on this, as Democrats watched from the sidelines, while the GOP couldn’t get 50 votes, plus the tie breaking tally of the Vice President. The failure leaves the GOP unable to follow through on their biggest campaign pledge of the past seven years. The White House and the President tried to blame it on Democrats – but Republicans are the ones in charge at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Fact: There are 48 Democrats in Senate & 52 Republicans. #Trumpcare only needed 50 Rs to pass. It failed on the merits, not by obstruction. — Senator Jack Reed (@SenJackReed) July 19, 2017 2. Republicans still haven’t united behind one plan. Back in early January, I wrote this: “The Obama health law was approved almost seven years ago, and while Republicans are overflowing with ideas on what they would change, there isn’t one plan out there which could get a majority in either the House or Senate if a vote were held this week.” That’s still true today in the Senate – and frankly, the House might have a hard time repeating its vote of early May in favor of a GOP health care bill. For whatever variety of reasons, Republicans never hammered out the details of a ‘repeal and replace’ plan – except for their snappy bumper sticker saying. On health care, Republicans are like a dog finding out it's easier to bark at the car than to catch it. — Rob Archer (@RobArcher) July 17, 2017 3. GOP strategy on health care has been a see-saw. After President Trump won in November, many in the GOP wanted to start off 2017 by having Congress vote to repeal large chunks of the Obama health law – and then move later on to fill in the blanks on what should replace the system. But that did not get the seal of approval from the President-Elect, so Republicans opted for ‘repeal and replace.’ As we have seen, that hasn’t gone too well, and this week the GOP ricocheted back to repeal, and then move later on to fill in the blanks on what should replace. Here is a tweet from January, when Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was joining the President in calling for ‘repeal and replace.’ Not anymore. I just spoke to @realDonaldTrump and he fully supports my plan to replace Obamacare the same day we repeal it. The time to act is now. — Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 7, 2017 4. No Senate health care vote until at least next week. There was talk in the halls of a vote as early as Wednesday on the Senate floor, on whether to start debate on the GOP health care bill. By the end of the day, Senate Majority Leader McConnell backed off a quick showdown. “At the request of the President and Vice President, and after consulting with our members, we will have the vote on the motion to proceed to the Obamacare repeal bill early next week,” McConnell said. It’s not clear that the GOP will have 50 votes next week to begin debate, and start entertaining amendments on the Senate floor, raising the question of why top Republicans would want to move ahead with a vote that they might lose. Some wondered if it was a signal that it is time to move on to other issues. Have asked multiple McConnell-world insiders what his endgame is—bill? no bill? repeal? replace? Consensus is: Just get it over with. — Molly Ball (@mollyesque) July 18, 2017 5. There is the option of doing nothing. President Trump again said today that maybe the best choice for Republicans is to do nothing legislatively about the Obama health law, just let the situation fester and worsen, and then bring both parties together later to fix things in Congress. “I think we’re probably in that position where we will just let Obamacare fail,” the President told reporters on Tuesday. “We’re not going to own it – I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it,” as the President tried to isolate himself, and the GOP from any political fallout related to failed efforts to repeal and replace the Obama health law. As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2017 6. No love from House Republicans for the Senate. After going through their own near-death experience on health care in March, April and May, GOP lawmakers in the House have little sympathy for Republicans in the Senate, and made that clear on Tuesday, as the Senate health care bill was derailed by GOP infighting. “Repeal. Replace. Congress, keep your promise,” said Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). “It’s time for the Senate to act and repeal Obamacare,” said Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL). “We cannot be the party of ‘no.’ We must be the party of solutions, and there is no bigger problem right now than the ongoing collapse of Obamacare,” said Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH). But for now, that magic solution has not appeared for the GOP in the Senate. The US Senate needs to get its act together and repeal the #Obamacare disaster. — Doug Collins (@Douglas_Collins) July 18, 2017 7. ‘Repeal and Delay’ seems to be going nowhere. The idea of bringing back a plan that was vetoed by President Obama last year does not have legs in the Senate right now, as at least four Republicans have made clear they will not support the idea – even though some of them voted for it back in 2015. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) were the three who deep-sixed the GOP backup plan – then others, like Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said they also want to see the GOP forge a replacement plan. I don’t think it’s appropriate just to repeal, we’ve also got to put a replacement in place,” Portman told home state reporters by telephone in Ohio. It wouldn’t surprise me if a few more GOP Senators agreed with that sentiment. We must do more than just repeal, we must have a replacement solution in place as well. https://t.co/lmZNuUkmZH — Rob Portman (@senrobportman) July 18, 2017 8. Will there be bipartisan negotiations on health care? For months, Democrats have jabbed at the GOP by demanding bipartisanship, while Republicans have said Democrats ran away on health care, refusing to offer up any ideas on how best to fix the Obama health law. Now, with Republicans short on votes, comes a real moment of truth for the GOP. What if – what if Republicans can’t muster a majority in the Senate? Should they start looking at talks with Democrats on a health care bill? That opens a big can of worms, because for some the answer would be, ‘absolutely not.’ But there were some surprising and influential voices who endorsed that idea – like conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham: There's no point pretending that the GOP will pass major legislation on its own. Must either work w/ Dems or do nothing. — Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) July 18, 2017
  • Republican efforts to pass legislation to overhaul the Obama health law quickly collapsed on Tuesday, as more than enough GOP Senators signaled that they would not support a plan from Senate leaders to pass a plan to repeal large chunks of Obamacare, but not immediately approve any legislation to replace that health care system. “We can’t just hope that we will pass a replacement within the next two years,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), one of three Republican women in the Senate who sank the backup plan from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I will only vote to proceed to repeal legislation if I am confident there is a replacement plan that addresses my concerns,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). “I cannot vote to proceed to repeal the ACA without reform that allows people the choice they want,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). My recent statement on the Senate Healthcare Process: pic.twitter.com/j19Ok1KwWw — Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) July 18, 2017 My latest statement on the Senate health care bill & planned vote to repeal Obamacare: pic.twitter.com/yAVIxgptCu — Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) July 18, 2017 . @SenatorCollins opposes straight repeal vote, says it would cause 'anxiety' for individuals, 'turmoil' for markets. https://t.co/hvGLziXy2L pic.twitter.com/PiNwEqOTjU — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 18, 2017 The irony of those three announcements was not lost on Capitol Hill, where Republicans had assembled a health care working group to put together a bill, which did not include one female GOP Senator. At the White House, President Donald Trump expressed his disappointment with the events unfolding on Capitol Hill, mainly blaming Democrats for the problems inside the GOP. “We’ve had a lot of victories, but we haven’t had a victory on health care,” the President told reporters at a White House photo op. “We’re disappointed, I am very disappointed,” Mr. Trump added. Trump: 'We'll just let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it … the Republicans are not going to own it' https://t.co/Ot8El5CR7o — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 18, 2017 Mr. Trump and Republican Senators vowed to push ahead on health care, but it wasn’t immediately apparent how the GOP would save this legislative effort. “I was hopeful that we would be moving to a vote this week,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). “But obviously, that’s not going to happen.”
  • Republicans arrived at work on Tuesday morning with a GOP effort to overhaul the Obama health law at its most vulnerable point in 2017, a day after two Republican Senators jointly announced their opposition, leading Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to switch tactics, vowing to bring up a plan similar to one that was vetoed in 2016 by President Barack Obama. “Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” McConnell said in a written statement, as he said the next step would be a vote on a plan that repeals some of the Obama health law, but leaves unanswered the question of what system should replace it. That plan, which could be approved under the special rules of ‘budget reconciliation’ – which does not allow for a filibuster – would be “a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay,” on a replacement, McConnell said. BREAKING: McConnell concedes drive to erase, replace Obama health law has failed; plans repeal vote, 2-year delay for substitute. — The Associated Press (@AP) July 18, 2017 It was not immediately apparent that GOP leaders would have the votes for such a plan, which had been the preferred option for Republicans after President Donald Trump’s victory in the November elections, until Mr. Trump made clear he wanted a plan that also would ‘replace’ the current Obama health law system. Here is some of what that GOP plan would do: + Repeal all of the taxes under the Obama health law + Repeal all of the subsidies that help people buy health insurance + Zeroes out (but does not repeal) the individual mandate penalty + Zeores out (but does not repeal) the employer mandate penalty + Repeals the Medicaid expansion program + Repeals extra money for hospitals that treat large numbers of low income patients + Eliminates spending for programs under the Obama health law + Blocks money for Planned Parenthood for one year This plan would not change the underlying requirements under the Obama health law in terms of what insurance companies would have to offer in their health coverage plans. It also has no provisions dealing with selling insurance across state lines, which is already legal under the Obama health law. In order to do that – and fully repeal the Obama health law architecture – that bill would need 60 votes in the Senate, which Republicans do not have. Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2017 The Congressional Budget Office found that the plan would reduce the deficit by $474 billion over ten years. The more controversial CBO finding is on how many people would not keep their insurance. The CBO found the GOP plans being considered in recent months would result in 22-23 million more people not having health insurance in ten years – this would be 32 million. Democrats immediately latched on to those numbers to launch a new round of attacks on the GOP health care effort. McConnell's new plan–repeal only–hurts millions of people and destabilizes the largest sector of our economy — Senator Tim Kaine (@timkaine) July 18, 2017
  • The White House push to approve a bill to overhaul the Obama health law suffered a major setback Monday night, as two more GOP Senators announced their opposition to the plan, effectively sending Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell back to the drawing board in his effort to find a magic formula that can attract a majority of votes in the Senate. “We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), who surprised many by opposing the first Senate version of the GOP health care bill, as he was joined by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). “In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations,” Lee said in his own statement. My full statement opposing this version of BCRA: pic.twitter.com/CUq4Kibe0I — Jerry Moran (@JerryMoran) July 18, 2017 As of now, four Republicans have publicly said they cannot support this version of the GOP health care bill: Lee, Moran, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Republicans have 52 votes in the Senate; they can lose no more than two Senators on the health care measure. Several other GOP Senators remain publicly undecided – Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Dean Heller of Nevada.
  • With Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) not on Capitol Hill because of his own health care issues, as he deals with a blood clot that was removed from over his left eye, the effort to get a GOP bill to overhaul the Obama health law through the Senate remains on hold this week, as Republican leaders said Monday they would still push ahead on a bill which has struggled to get enough votes for approval. “We need to tackle this problem,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared on the Senate floor, as he opened the day’s session by sending well wishes to McCain – whose absence delayed a plan to hold debate and a vote this week on the GOP health bill. “He’ll be back with us soon,” McConnell said, telling Senators he had spoken with McCain earlier in the day. . @Chaplain_Black in Senate opening prayer: 'Lord, bring healing to Senator John McCain' — Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) July 17, 2017 “Our friend from Arizona is a pretty tough guy – as we all know,” McConnell added, without giving any hints about a revised timeline for when a vote might occur in the Senate on health care. “We need to tackle this problem,” McConnell said of complaints about the Obama health law. If there was panic about McCain’s absence and how it might impact the debate over the health care bill by delaying a vote, that was not on display on Capitol Hill, or down at the White House, as Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that officials remain ‘very confident’ the bill will be approved in the Senate soon. “We have every confidence in the Majority Leader’s ability to get this done,” Spicer said of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “We feel very confident about where we are now and we look forward to getting that bill on the President’s desk and getting it signed,” Spicer added. Sean Spicer says the White House is 'very confident' on where GOP is now on Senate health care bill… — Rebecca Shabad (@RebeccaShabad) July 17, 2017 Spicer told reporters at the daily briefing – which was again not in front of television cameras – that the President would bring some GOP Senators down to the White House tonight to lobby them about health care. While Republicans waited to act on health care, outside the Capitol – getting a bit wet in a summer rain shower – opponents of the GOP plan made their voices heard on Monday by rallying on Capitol Hill. Having a health crisis can & does happen to every family, every person, even members of the Senate– @rabbijkb #Trumpcare #ProtectOurCare pic.twitter.com/Tyhm3xSmMJ — JewishAction (@jewishaction) July 17, 2017 Meanwhile, demonstrators were also at work inside, making their voices heard in Senate offices and in the various office buildings on Capitol Hill. Capitol Police prepare to arrest health care protesters this afternoon in the Hart Senate Office Building pic.twitter.com/AE9Njpa12K — Bill Clark (@billclarkphotos) July 17, 2017 Back on the Senate floor, the big unknown was when Sen. McCain would return, and how long the GOP might have to wait on a health care vote. “Lord, bring healing with Sen. John McCain,” Senate Chaplain Barry Black intoned as the Senate convened for this week’s legislative work.

News

  • Police are investigating a shooting at a Starbucks in Cobb County. Channel 2's Ross Cavitt learned that a woman was shot outside the Starbucks at Paces Ferry and Cumberland Parkway Thursday afternoon. Witnesses said they heard a pop and then saw the gunman jump over the bushes and run to a waiting truck. Cavitt spoke to a witness who said the woman who was shot asked for help, but then left. The woman has been identified as Sheena Fisse, 31. 'She had come into the door and I heard from other people she asked for help and said she's been shot. She asked for help or announced she'd been shot and turned around and left,' Grant Wyckoff said. TRENDING STORIES: O.J. Simpson granted parole after 9 years in jail Police: Burglar thought he cut security wires, still caught on camera 10-year-old girl hit, killed while walking to store Police said Fisse was shot in the side and drove eight miles down the interstate to Fulton Industrial Boulevard where they found her. She was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Police said they are questioning one person in connection with the shooting. If you have any information, you're asked to call 770-499-3945. Woman shot outside Cumberland Starbucks, drives miles down the highway before stopping. Suspect at large. @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/LNiySLNVz8-- Ross Cavitt | WSB-TV (@RossCavittWSB) July 20, 2017
  • Police said a burglar broke into a local nail salon and got away with cash.Channel 2's Audrey Washington was in Gainesville where police said the man scoped out the shop for one specific reason.Police said the burglar targeted the salon because he knows the nail techs get tipped with cash. They said it's the same reason they want him off the streets before he hits another nail shop.Surveillance video obtained by Washington showed the man walk into the back door of the nail studio and spa inside the Lakeshore Mall before 8 a.m.'Somebody come in through the back door like you see in the video,' the business owner told Washington, 'He just randomly picked it and (was) lucky to get in.' TRENDING STORIES: Woman had $2 million in liquid meth hidden in cleaning jugs during traffic stop, police say 10-year-old girl struck, killed while walking to a store Man shoots AT&T work truck outside parked in front of his home While inside, the shop owner said that the man cut the wires to what he thought was the security system. It turned out the wires he cut were to the audio system, so the camera was rolling as the man made his way inside. 'Not fair for us or anybody or business owners,' the salon owner told Washington.Sgt. Kevin Holbrook, with the Gainesville Police Department, told Washington, 'He did not hit any other businesses in the mall. He went to this nail salon, probably knowing that they do a lot of cash business.'The owner wouldn't say how much the guy got away with and police are hoping someone will recognize the suspect in the video by his distinctive camouflage backpack. Meanwhile police are warning other nail salon owners in the area. 'If you do cash business, if you have employees that receive cash tips, do not keep large amounts of cash in your store,' Holbrook said.The salon owner said he added extra security to his back door and as for the suspect, police believe he lives in the area. Anyone with information is asked to give Gainesville police a call.
  • Sen. John McCain's treatment for brain cancer could keep him out of Washington for weeks, perhaps months, and yet it's unlikely anyone will challenge his extended leave. Congress has a long tradition in which no one questions ailing lawmakers taking time to recover. For starters, it's just poor form. And, frankly, it's up to the stricken member of Congress and their doctors to decide when — or even if — they return to work. Some have recuperated away from the Capitol for a year or more. It's an unwritten courtesy that often doesn't extend to the real working world where employees are forced to file for medical disability or take unpaid leave. Julie Tarallo, McCain's spokeswoman, said Friday that 'further consultations with Sen. McCain's Mayo Clinic care team will indicate when he will return to the United States Senate.' McCain had taken to Twitter on Thursday promising a quick return. 'Unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress, I'll be back soon, so stand-by!' said the six-term Arizona Republican and 2008 GOP presidential nominee. The 80-year-old McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer, according to doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, who had removed a blood clot above his left eye last Friday. He and his family are weighing his treatment, including radiation and chemotherapy. In the immediate aftermath of McCain's diagnosis, Republicans wouldn't speculate about what the temporary loss of McCain's vote would mean. But McCain's absence complicates Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plans for a Senate vote on a GOP health care bill to erase much of the Affordable Care Act. A vote is possible on Tuesday, but GOP defections plus McCain's likely absence could sink any chance even to get started. McCain wouldn't be the first lawmaker this year to miss votes, hearings and other legislative action. Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson remained in Georgia for several weeks earlier this year as he underwent two back surgeries and recuperated. Isakson missed the vote on confirming Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. In January 2012, then-Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. suffered a major stroke and didn't return for almost a full year, making a dramatic entrance by climbing the steps of the Capitol on the opening day of the following Congress. In a lawmaker's absence, congressional staff keep the office operating, send out news releases — one from McCain on Thursday blasted the Trump administration's Syria policy — and respond to constituents. Absences can leave the margin of control on a razor's edge. The month after Democrats won back the Senate in 2006, South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson had a near-fatal episode of bleeding in his brain that, at the time, threatened to shift the Senate's margin from 51-49 Democratic to 50-50 GOP control with Republican Vice President Dick Cheney the deciding vote. Johnson recovered but was away from the Senate for almost nine months. McCain is battling the same form of cancer that claimed the life of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., in August 2009. Kennedy was away from the Senate for extended stretches but returned on occasion to vote. 'There were times when Senator Reid had to juggle things because he had two senators absent, Senator Kennedy and Senator Byrd,' said longtime former Senate aide Jim Manley, who worked for both Kennedy and then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. 'Having said that, it really never, with a handful of exceptions, proved to be that big of a problem.' Kennedy also delegated some of his responsibilities as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee by farming out responsibility for bills before the panel to colleagues such as then-Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. McCain has had Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., handle his duties as Armed Services Committee chairman. Unclear is whether Inhofe will steer the sweeping defense policy bill if the Senate begins debate in August. And, if legislative necessity should dictate that McCain return for a crucial, dramatic vote, there's precedent for that. Kennedy, who mostly stayed away from the chamber for fear of infection, returned to the Senate in July 2008 for a key vote. During McCain's first term, Sen. Pete Wilson, R-Calif., recovering from an emergency appendectomy, was wheeled in on a stretcher to cast the deciding vote on a GOP budget plan. And in 1964, California Democrat Clair Engle, whose own bout with brain cancer rendered him unable to speak, was wheeled into the Senate to vote for the landmark Civil Rights Act. Engle pointed to his eye and tried to mouth 'aye,' according to newspaper accounts at the time. In an earlier time, some senators were away from the chamber for years. Karl Mundt, R-S.D., suffered a stroke in late 1969 and refused to resign and allow a GOP replacement to be named. He held the seat until January 1973 and was replaced by Democrat Jim Abourezk. Sen. Carter Glass, D-Va., kept his titles of president pro tempore and chairman of the Appropriations Committee despite being absent because of frailty due to old age.
  • Embattled former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has opened a new consulting firm called Resilient Patriot, LLC that is advising private equity firms, according to one of his brothers, who says Flynn is 'moving on with his life.' Joe Flynn said his family also is in the early stages of starting a fund to pay for the legal bills his brother is racking up as he sits at the center of multiple probes into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. 'Mike's not a millionaire, not even close,' Joe Flynn told The Associated Press this week. 'This situation has put him in a tough spot financially. This is going to cost him a lot of money.' 'There's a lot of people that are big fans of his across the country,' he added. Several of Flynn's siblings plan to administer the fund for the retired Army lieutenant general, and are working on setting up a website and consulting with a lawyer about the legal intricacies of such a fund. Joe Flynn said they want to 'be as transparent as possible' and do it properly. After being forced into retirement in 2014 by the Obama administration, Flynn went on to set up a company that accepted speaking fees from Russian entities and later did consulting work for a Turkish-owned business. He joined the Trump campaign and then the administration as an early supporter. But the Trump White House ousted him after saying he mischaracterized conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. A wide range of his actions — including foreign contracts and payments, and whether he lied to officials — are under scrutiny by investigators. Joe Flynn said his brother is not independently wealthy, and depends on his Army pension. While his brother made some money consulting, Joe Flynn said much of that went into his company and to subcontractors. Now, with Resilient Patriot, Michael Flynn is advising private equity firms on deals they are considering, Joe Flynn said. He did not specify the firms. 'They use him to vet opportunities with his network,' he said. 'He's slowly starting to do that as a totally independent consultant.' While he said his older brother is doing well, 'There's still a cloud over him,' he said, adding 'I think he's not worried about going to jail or anything like that.' His son, Mike Flynn Jr., used the name Resilient Patriot on Twitter, but the work does not involve him, Joe Flynn said. Flynn Jr. sent numerous posts on Twitter about the conspiracy theories of Pizzagate, a fake new story suggesting a Washington, D.C., pizza shop plays a key role in a child sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton. The conspiracy theory influenced a North Carolina man to fire a rifle in the restaurant in December. Michael Flynn has been spending most of his summer in Middletown, Rhode Island, where he and his wife grew up and where they built a home years ago. Flynn has spent time surfing and golfing there in recent days. The plans for a legal defense fund were first reported by Bloomberg.
  • Lately the Congressional Budget Office just can't get any respect. Republicans from the White House on down have worked to discredit the nonpartisan agency, in an effort to undermine its inconvenient findings that GOP health care bills would cause more than 20 million people to lose their insurance. Now all eight former directors of the agency, some of them Republicans and some Democrats, have signed onto a letter defending CBO and urging lawmakers to give it the respect it deserves. 'We write to express our strong objection to recent attacks on the integrity and professionalism of the agency and on the agency's role in the legislative process,' the former directors say in their letter Friday to the top Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate. CBO is a nonpartisan agency and acts as Congress' official scorekeeper, analyzing the costs and impacts of the bills lawmakers write. Most major legislation does not come to a vote without a CBO 'score' and these scores can be consequential in serving as the bottom line analysis of the impact a bill will have. CBO directors are approved by the House and Senate leaders. The current director, Keith Hall, was chosen by Republican Tom Price, who is now secretary of Health and Human Services but previously chaired the budget committee in the House. Price made the selection and it was blessed by the top Capitol Hill GOP leaders at the time. Hall has served since 2015. Nevertheless, in recent months Republicans have not liked what CBO has had to say about the GOP's legislation to repeal and replace 'Obamacare.' The biggest headlines have been the large numbers of consumers who would lose insurance under the GOP plans, plus the higher premiums for older Americans that would result. Many congressional Republicans have pointed out that CBO's predictions sometimes don't prove accurate. In one example Republicans often cite, the agency overestimated the number of Americans who would gain health coverage on the purchasing exchanges created by Obamacare. Two Trump White House officials, legislative director Marc Short and Brian Blase, special assistant to the president for the National Economic Council, went so far as to write an opinion piece in the Washington Post earlier this month pre-butting the agency's findings about Senate health care legislation. The estimates 'will be little more than fake news' the two claimed. The sitting leadership of the CBO does not respond to such attacks. But in an unusual move the past leadership got together to fight back. In their letter the former directors defended the agency's approach and the high quality of its research, while noting that a law's outcome over time can be difficult to predict in a dynamic economy. 'In sum, relying on CBO's estimates in the legislative process has served the Congress?_?and the American people?_?very well during the past four decades,' they conclude. 'As the House and Senate consider potential policy changes this year and in the years ahead, we urge you to maintain and respect the Congress's decades-long reliance on CBO's estimates in developing and scoring bills.' ___ Online: Read the CBO directors' letter at: https://medium.com/@douglas.elmendorf/letter-from-former-cbo-directors-on-the-importance-of-cbos-role-in-the-legislative-process-278863b7e1c6 An occasional look at what Capitol Hill is talking about
  • Meek Mill faced scrutiny during his highly-publicized rap feud with Drake and relationship with former girlfriend Nicki Minaj. Some may think Mill lost in both situations, especially after Drake's Grammy-nominated diss track 'Back to Back.' But the Philadelphia-bred rapper doesn't view it that way, saying there were other pressing issues in his life he considers as losses — from the death of close friends to a probation violation that landed him three months in house arrest last year. While wearing a gold pendant in remembrance of the late rapper and protege Lil Snupe, who was shot dead in 2013, Mill spoke with The Associated Press about his new album 'Wins & Losses,' which comes out Friday. He also touches on empowering young black youth, Minaj's ex-boyfriend Safaree Samuels being jumped during the BET Awards weekend and his aspirations of doing film. AP: What compelled you to name your album 'Wins and Losses'? Mill: Everybody saying that I'm losing and I lost. I lost my case. I lost my friends to the streets. Those things really meant something to me. I started off in the basement on a karaoke machine. Now I'm in million-dollar studios, making a lot of money being able to feed my family and take them out a crazy environment, still being able to wake up on my own time and do things how I want to do it. That's my definition of winning. I determine my definition of losing on this album. AP: Your single 'Young Black America' has a politically-charged tone. What do you want people to take away from it? Mill: It's an eye-opener for the young people for my culture. It's to help them open their eyes and see what they are really dealing with in real reality. A lot of rap isn't based off reality most of the time. Sometimes it's ignorant. ... I just wanted to give young people in our culture an understanding of what's going on. In one video, we got young kids with guns with KKK masks on, basically saying we killing our own. AP: What run-ins have you experienced with the law that youngsters can relate to? Mill: I was 18 and got beat up by a cop and almost killed by cops. I was just a statistic coming up. The cops are in a dangerous neighborhood thinking everybody else in the neighborhood is dangerous or everybody in the hood is killers. They caught me and treated me like I was a killer. I don't think that's really right. The cop gave me a 100 charges with trying to kill a cop. I don't want to kill a cop. They basically put me on probation for the rest of my life from that point on when I was 18. I'm 30 now and still on probation. I've been to jail three times from that one stint of probation. Any mistake you make, you'll be put in prison. Your freedom can be took. AP: Your relationship with Minaj and beef with Drake really put a spotlight on you. How did you take to the criticism? Mill: I'll look at the internet and see comments like, 'Meek got Nicki money.' You can't know nothing about Meek Mill if you saying something like that. They be like 'Meek Mill can't rap.'... 'Somebody wrote Meek Mill raps'. ... I came up on YouTube rapping since I was 14 years old. That's my importance to the streets. They seen me come up. My story is not a facade. AP: Did you have anything to do with Safaree being jumped? Mill: I don't know nothing about him getting jumped on. I pulled up and actually seen him getting into an altercation. You can look at my face and see that I was surprised. Me and my friends had a party at that spot that night, so that's somewhere we were supposed to be going. I don't communicate with him. I don't know him. I don't even want to base those guys in this interview. That's not even on my level. Street fights take place all the time. I ain't touch nobody. Didn't put no hand on nobody. I'm on strict probation. I'm just trying to handle my business and feed my family. I don't think those dudes are worthy of being talked about. AP: Does your short film, 'Wins & Losses: The Movie' make you want to get more involved in film? Mill: I want to do something that expresses the things we go through. The things we feel. I have a lot of older white friends who don't understand our culture. They might see ignorant or wild things and don't understand why it's going on. But I might have to break it down like, 'Yo, this guy is on drugs for 15 years.' I believe I can express things through film. ___ Online: http://www.meekmilldreamteam.com ___ Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MrLandrum31 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/jonathan%20landrum