Senate Takes Up Health Care Debate

Wednesday, July 26, 2017Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 8.23.57 AM

Good Wednesday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • The Senate voted narrowly to begin debate on a bill to repeal major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, but hours later, Republican leaders suffered a setback when their most comprehensive plan to replace President Barack Obama’s health law fell far short of the votes it needed.

  • Senator John McCain returned to the Senate chamber less than two weeks after brain surgery to vote to help the Republican health bill.

  • The president’s unforgiving campaign against his own attorney general, Jeff Sessionsopens a rift with the right and leaves the White House at war with the Justice Department.

  • Paul Manafort met with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators to discuss the June 2016 meeting between a Russian lawyer and the president’s inner circle.

  • As the White House fell into an increasingly fractious debate over Afghanistan policy, Trump aides met with a chemical executive to discuss the potential for extracting rare-earth minerals.
  • The House approved a package of sanctions against Russia, clearing a key hurdle in Congress’s effort to punish Moscow for its interference in last year’s election, among other reasons.

— The First Draft Team
On Washington

Trump and Congressional Republicans: It’s Complicated

Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama on Capitol Hill in June. Senate Republicans were aghast at President Trump's harsh treatment of their former colleague, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama on Capitol Hill in June. Senate Republicans were aghast at President Trump’s harsh treatment of their former colleague, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Eric Thayer for The New York Times

Congressional Republicans have long known they struck a risky bargain aligning themselves with an impulsive president who holds little regard for Washington’s political conventions. But Tuesday’s fast-moving events underlined the potential costs and benefits in a striking new way.
By the skin of their teeth, Senate Republicans were able to salvage an effort to repeal the Obama-era health care law — a promise they have made a centerpiece of their political and policy agenda for seven years — and they now have a president in the White House who would sign the legislation if they can somehow get it to his desk.
At the same time, those same Republicans were unnerved by President Trump’s continued shaming of Attorney General Jeff Sessions — a former close colleague to many of them, as well as Mr. Trump’s first major supporter from the Senate ranks — to the point that they were “freaking out,” in the words of one Republican senator.
Not only that, the Republican-led Congress was moving very quickly to impose financial sanctions on Russia that some lawmakers were embracing out of worry that the White House could not be counted on to get tough with Russia for its interference in last year’s presidential election.
Read more »
President Trump spoke about the Affordable Care Act at the White House on Monday.

For Trump’s ‘Victims’ of Obamacare, Senate Bill May Be Worse


The president misleadingly suggested that the Senate health bill would provide “relief” to families hurt by the current law.

A man worked on a Interstate 11 near Boulder City, Nev., in May. Infrastructure repairs have been a top goal of President Trump.

Lawsuit Challenges Secrecy of White House Advisers on Infrastructure


In a complaint filed Tuesday, a nonprofit group accused the president of a “pattern and practice” of creating secretive advisory groups.

Anthony Scaramucci, the communications director, spoke with reporters in the White House driveway on Tuesday.

Scaramucci on Leaks: ‘I’m Going to Fire Everybody’


Another member of the White House press shop resigned as the president’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, threatened to fire the whole staff to stop leaking.

Intelligence Agencies Say North Korean Missile Could Reach U.S. in a Year


The estimate significantly shortens the time that analysts believed it would take the regime to develop a weapon capable of reaching the continental United States.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
• Rush Limbaugh:
“But it’s also kind of, you know, a little bit discomforting, unseemly for Trump to go after such a loyal supporter this way.”
On his radio program, Mr. Limbaugh responded to the rumors that President Trump was thinking about dismissing his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, a man who Mr. Limbaugh points out was an early and ardent supporter of the president during the campaign. Mr. Limbaugh reacts the way other defenders of Mr. Sessions have in recent days, arguing that “Sessions is the kind of man Trump needs in his administration.” Read more »
From the Left
• Leon Neyfakh in Slate:
“In declaring his warm support for civil forfeiture, the attorney general practically dared his detractors to look into his soul and wonder: Does he think this is a good, fair idea, or is he just pretending because it serves some broader agenda?”
Mr. Neyfakh points out that critics of the civil forfeiture policy can be found on the right and the left. In theory, it is “a clever and morally righteous idea,” but in practice, it “shakes down innocent people.” Mr. Neyfakh proposes that the only way to explain Mr. Sessions’s reinstatement of such a broadly condemned program is to understand the attorney general’s distinct worldview: “a worldview that treats all police officers as righteous agents of order and all suspects as presumptively deserving of punishment.” Read more »
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