Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Republican Sens. John Cornyn (Tex.) and John Barrasso (Wyo.) leave the Senate chamber after Vice President Pence breaks a 50-50 tie to formally open debate on Republican health-care legislation. (Oliver Contreras For The Washington Post)
THE BIG IDEA: Mitch McConnell is like a quarterback who has just converted on fourth and long. The Senate majority leader kept the drive to repeal Obamacare alive, but he’s still trailing by a touchdown, the game clock keeps ticking down and a win is not inevitable.
— He didn’t have a single vote to spare, but the Kentuckian demonstrated impressive legislative prowess by getting 50 Republican senators to vote for the motion to proceed to debate on the health-care bill. It was high political theater: John McCain, recovering from surgery and battling brain cancer, traveled 2,300 miles from Arizona. As police removed protesters yelling “kill the bill” from the gallery, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson (who has been a holdout in recent weeks) held off on voting until he saw what the outcome was going to be. Vice President Pence then cast a tiebreaking vote.
— But last night underscored what a tough row to hoe this remains. The rules of the body mean that any senator can now submit amendments that need to be voted on. This leads to what’s called a vote-o-rama, an often chaotic and sometimes unpredictable process.
The first item members took up last night was the Better Care Reconciliation Act. That is the carefully negotiated package that McConnell spent weeks crafting, with compromises to get conservatives like Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and moderates like Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on board. But nine Republicans broke ranks and voted no.
The diversity of those who opposed the measure underscored the ideological split within the Republican conference about the best path forward on health care. The group included moderates like Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), as well as conservative purists like Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Also voting no were Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).
— President Trump, who has stepped up his efforts in recent days to get a bill done, marveled yesterday at the small margin for error. “It’s a very, very difficult situation,” he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, “because you move a little to the left, and you lose four guys. You move a little bit to the right, and all of a sudden you have a bloc of people who are gone. You have a one-inch road and it wheels through the middle of the valley.”
— Senators will next cast an up-or-down vote on whether to completely repeal Obamacare. The vote could come as early as today. It will fail. The only question is how many Republicans vote against it. Two years ago, all but one of them voted for the identical measure — when they knew that it was only for show and Barack Obama would veto it.
— It’s hard to overstate the degree to which White House officials and Senate GOP leaders just want to pass something — really, anything — to show the base that they are keeping their promise to roll back Obamacare. They would happily portray even most modest tweaks to the Affordable Care Act as major successes to save face. As far as they’re concerned, whatever gets passed will be the basis for negotiations with the House. So this is not even a final product.
That’s where what’s being called “skinny repeal” comes in. “The ‘skinny repeal’ option would repeal the ACA’s mandates that individuals buy plans and that employers with 50 or more employees provide coverage … as well as eliminate the law’s tax on medical device manufacturers,” Sean Sullivan, Juliet Eilperin and Kelsey Snell explain. “This … strategy would keep the overhaul effort alive but amount to a tacit acknowledgment that broader efforts to revise or repeal the law cannot succeed … The conservative group Freedom Partners (backed by the Koch political network), urged senators to use the votes to partly repeal the law and then keep pushing for full repeal. … But one key way Senate leaders won Tuesday’s procedural vote was by assuring several centrist Republicans that they may end up with a modest bill.”
The devil is in the details. Kim Soffen and Kevin Schaul have created a cool graphics page to track some of the most significant amendments expected to come up in the next few days, along with which senators to watch for each one.
“There has been a mismatch all along between many of the Republicans’ critiques of current law and the likely outcomes of their reforms,” Margot Sanger-Katz writes in the New York Times. “But earlier bills grappled with the issues by trying to deregulate insurance markets or provide stabilization funds, even if analyses suggested that the changes would still increase consumer costs and the number of Americans without insurance. A skinny repeal bill, instead, leaves those policy goals to the side in an effort to find a slender majority of votes.”
— Keep in mind: Opening floor debate may be a Pyrrhic victory for the GOP: Democrats are going to force Republicans to cast some uncomfortable votes in the coming days as part of the freewheeling amendment process. Regardless of whether a bill ultimately passes, and how they try to spin it, every senator who voted for the motion to proceed just gave years of fodder to Democratic admakers. “These votes, frankly, are a lot tougher for them than they are for us,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “They are squeezed in both directions.”
McConnell, for his part, warned his members that voters “expect us to tackle the big problems.” “So all we have to do today is to have the courage to begin the debate,” the GOP leader said in a floor speech. “Let the voting take us where it will.”
THE MAC IS BACK:
— “John McCain, maverick of the Senate, did not return to Capitol Hill and suddenly stop the progress of the Republican health-care effort. But the Arizona Republican, now battling an aggressive form of brain cancer, did use his moment in the spotlight Tuesday to deliver a sobering message to colleagues,”Elise Viebeck, Paul Kane and Ed O’Keefe report. “The Senate might be known as the world’s greatest deliberative body, McCain said, but it is not clear it deserves that reputation today. The partisanship, the gridlock and the political subterfuge have dragged down the institution, he said. Senators’ work is ‘more partisan, more tribal more of the time than any other time I remember,’ McCain told a rapt audience on the Senate floor. ‘Our deliberations can still be important and useful, but I think we’d all agree they haven’t been overburdened by greatness lately. And right now, they aren’t producing much for the American people.’” (Read Kane’s column about McCain’s emotional return.)
Even though he delivered a pivotal vote to move the health-care debate forward, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee publicly criticized his party’s leaders for their lack of transparency and suggested that a bill may not ultimately pass. “We’ve tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration, then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them it’s better than nothing, asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition,” McCain said. “I don’t think that’s going to work in the end, and it probably shouldn’t …
“Let’s trust each other,” he added. “Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires.”
HOW IT’S PLAYING BACK HOME:
— Arizona Republic: “It won’t take long to see whether McCain’s message dented the partisan stalemate on Republican efforts to overhaul the Affordable Care Act. Both sides are expected to wrangle for the rest of the week over competing versions of the health-care bill to see if any ideas can muster a majority.”
— Denver Post: “Cory Gardner votes to advance Senate GOP health care bill but circumspect on what comes next. Regardless, Colorado Republican plans to pitch idea involving private insurance for low-income residents.”
— Alaska Dispatch News: “Alaska’s senior Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Tuesday that her decision to vote no on beginning debate on health care legislation was a last-minute decision. In the end, an allegiance to ‘the process’ won out.”
— Las Vegas Sun: “[Sen. Dean Heller] voted in support of a motion to push forward with efforts to roll back Obamacare. … He noted that his vote to proceed was not a vote in favor of the GOP bill. … Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., who is running against Heller next year, said in a statement after today’s vote that Heller folded under pressure from President Donald Trump and GOP leaders.”
— Charleston Gazette-Mail: “Following the roll call, [Sen. Shelley Moore] Capito said she expects that the final Senate version will put more money into combating the worsening opioid epidemic and beefing up the Patient and State Stability Fund, which would soften the blow of some of the lost federal funding.”
— Columbus Dispatch: “Despite his sharp criticisms of nearly every health-care bill pushed by Republican leadership this year, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman sided with party leaders Tuesday to keep alive the GOP effort to dismantle and replace Obamacare.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
Rick Perry. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
GET SMART FAST:
- Oops: Energy Secretary Rick Perry got a prank call. Perry thought he spoke with the prime minister of Ukraine, but it turned out to be a pair of high-profile Russian pranksters, who posted audio from the hoax online. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- President Trump is eyeing Afghanistan’s mineral deposits. Like his two predecessors, the president wants to look into possible mining as Pentagon officials consider increasing troop levels in Afghanistan. (New York Times)
- Trump mistakenly praised Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri for fighting Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a political partner to Hariri. (Anne Gearan)
- The West Wing will undergo major maintenance in August. The construction will force some staffers to temporarily work elsewhere. (Real Clear Politics)
- Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are proposing a bill to revamp the bail system. The unlikely bipartisan duo’s Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act would set aside a modest $10 million in federal grant money to encourage states to change their cash bail systems. (Ed O’Keefe)
- Discrimination against Muslims is on the rise in the United States. In a new Pew poll, 48 percent of Muslim Americans reported at least one discriminatory incident over the past year compared to 40 percent a decade ago. (Abigail Hauslohner)
- Scientists studying the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE,found that 99 percent of brains belonging to ex-NFL players showed signs of the neurodegenerative disease. Although researchers cautioned that the results are not representative of the general population, the findings do suggest CTE is much prevalent in the sport than previously realized. (Rick Maese)
- A U.S. Navy patrol ship fired warning shots at an Iranian military ship in the Persian Gulf, after the vessel came within 150 feet of the U.S. ship and risked collision. A Pentagon official said no one was hurt in the “isolated incident.” (Andrew deGrandpre)
- A woman who said her fiance died in a kayaking accident on the Hudson River pleaded guilty in his death. Angelika Graswald, 37, had originally told authorities that freezing, turbulent waters had flipped her husband’s boat upside down. But after police found discrepancies in her story, she admitted to sabotaging the kayak. (Alex Horton)
- Prosecutors in the case of “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli will rest their case today. Shkreli’s defense attorney doesn’t intend to call any witnesses, so closing arguments will likely occur tomorrow. (Renae Merle)
TRUMP VS. SESSIONS:
— The public standoff between Trump and Jeff Sessions escalated Tuesday: The president criticized his attorney general on Twitter, in a news conference and during a newspaper interview, and Sessions says he plans to stand his ground. Devlin Barrett, Philip Rucker and Sari Horwitz report: “Trump was asked at a Rose Garden news conference if he would fire the attorney general … ‘We’ll see what happens,’’ said Trump — a potentially ominous choice of phrase, considering the president used the same expression when talking [about fired FBI Director James Comey] … It is unheard of for a Cabinet-level official to be subjected to such visceral and public criticism, which has now gone on for a week. But Sessions showed no sign of buckling … and in fact his position was bolstered by support from prominent conservatives taking his side.”
- Jody Hunt, Sessions’s chief of staff, told White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus that the AG has no intention of stepping down. Priebus, for his part, did not say Trump planned to fire Sessions if he did not leave.
- “Trump’s reluctance to act on his anger and fire Sessions may be based in part on the lack of an immediate plan for a successor at the Justice Department. … One informal adviser said there is another reason Trump has yet to fire Sessions: ‘The president doesn’t want to be seen as firing another law enforcement official.’
- “Officials said Sessions is due to announce in coming days a number of criminal leak investigations based on news accounts of sensitive intelligence information. And within hours of Trump’s public broadside, the Justice Department announced it would change a police funding program to add new requirements that cities help federal agents find undocumented immigrants to receive grants.”
- “Current and former Justice Department officials said they hope Sessions holds out, refusing to resign as a means of defending the department’s independence. … Officials at Justice said the standoff is beginning to affect the department’s work. One official said the pace of meetings with senior leaders has slowed, and the dust-up has distracted from some policy goals.”
— Movement conservatives are very angry at Trump for going after one of their best allies in government: Breitbart, which has been Trump’s staunchest defender in right-wing media and was formerly run by Bannon, posted an article saying the president’s attacks on Sessions “only serves to highlight Trump’s own hypocrisy” and it warned that firing Sessions would “fuel concerns from his base.” The lead story overnight was headlined: “Trump vs. Trump: Potus Endangers Immigration Agenda.” The banner on the Drudge Report is: “Sessions in Dog House; Republicans on Brink of Civil War.”
Hard choice! Risk the future of the country (immigration) or score a few political points (Hillary)? https://t.co/0roWRpTBCN
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) July 25, 2017
— Frustration from the base has been building for a while, and the Sessions donnybrook has prompted some pro-Trump thought leaders to speak out: “Weeks ago, Mr. Bannon brought Ann Coulter, the firebrand pundit, to see Mr. Trump … Ms. Coulter railed at the president that he needed to focus more on his core supporters,” per the New York Times. “‘If an early supporter like this is thrown under the bus, then who is safe?’ asked Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies and a supporter of stricter immigration policies like those promoted by Mr. Sessions. ‘You can imagine what the other cabinet secretaries are thinking.’”
— In his interview with the Journal, Trump played down the significance of Sessions being the first and only GOP senator to endorse him before he locked down the party’s nomination. “When they say he endorsed me, I went to Alabama,” Trump said. “I had 40,000 people. He was a senator from Alabama. I won the state by a lot, massive numbers. A lot of the states I won by massive numbers. But he was a senator, he looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, ‘What do I have to lose?’ And he endorsed me. So it’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement.”
— “Trump famously said, ‘You’re fired!’ But he tends to demean rather than dismiss,” Phil Rucker and Ashley Parker note.
— Meanwhile over at Foggy Bottom, amid reports that Rex Tillerson is considering resigning in part because of Trump’s comments on Sessions, a State Department spokesperson refused to say yesterday whether he is happy in his role. CNN’s Michelle Kosinski, Zachary Cohen and Elise Labott report: “Tillerson is also taking time off at a time when the US faces multiple foreign policy challenges. … [Spokeswoman Heather] Nauert dodged a question about Tillerson’s feelings over the White House’s involvement in foreign policy decisions. … Nauert added that Tillerson is not considering resigning and any reports saying so are ‘false.’ … Tillerson has been on vacation this week — Nauert said it had been planned for a while and is not related to reports of his dissatisfaction. Defense Secretary James Mattis is also currently taking time off. Tillerson is returning to work on Wednesday and will meet with the Lebanese Prime Minister and Qatari Foreign Minister.”
Anthony Scaramucci talks with reporters outside the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
THE MOOCH HAS BEGUN HIS PURGE OF PRIEBUS LOYALISTS:
— “Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, threatened on Tuesday to fire his entire staff in an effort to stem the leaking that has plagued President Trump’s administration,”Ashley Parker reports. “Scaramucci, wearing blue-tinted aviator sunglasses and speaking to a small group of reporters in the White House driveway Tuesday morning, gestured to the guard booth on the outskirts of the complex to emphasize his threat. ‘If they don’t stop leaking, I’m going to put them out on Pennsylvania Avenue — it’s a very clear thing,’ he said. … ‘I’m going to fire everybody, that’s how I’m going to do it,’ Scaramucci said. ‘You’re either going to stop leaking or you’re going to get fired.’”
“The first to leave the West Wing on Tuesday was senior assistant press secretary Michael Short, who resigned after a report emerged in Politico hours earlier saying that he would be fired … “Asked about press reports that he has already begun to fire West Wing staffers, Scaramucci mentioned that name of a particular staffer floated in a news story as a likely candidate for firing … ‘This is actually a terrible thing,’ he said. ‘The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic, you got that? So I should have the opportunity, if I have to let someone go, to let the person go in a very humane, dignified way.’
“But Scaramucci also made clear ‘1,000 percent’ that he is prepared to fire any communications staffer he suspects of disloyalty. ‘I’ve got the authority from the president to do that,’ he said. … Typically, the job of firing staffers — even those in the press shop — would be left to the chief of staff, but Priebus has found himself increasingly isolated in recent days, with few areas of the White House reporting directly to him.”
Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (Matt Rourke/AP)
THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATIONS MAKE HEADWAY:
— Paul Manafort appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, answering questions and providing documents from a meeting he attended with a Russian lawyer last summer. Rosalind S. Helderman and Karoun Demirjian report: “Manafort’s submission … could offer a key contemporaneous account of the June 2016 session, which was organized by the president’s oldest son and has gained attention in recent days from lawmakers as well as [Robert Mueller]. Manafort’s testimony had been widely anticipated but took place without prior announcement early Tuesday, hours before [Jared Kushner] appeared on Capitol Hill to meet with the House Intelligence Committee. Manafort’s lawyers have agreed to make him available to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee staffers and members in the future to discuss other issues.”
Late Tuesday, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee announced the panel had withdrawn its subpoena compelling Manafort to appear, saying the former Trump campaign chairman had begun producing documents to the committee. “Our investigation is still in its early stages, and we will continue to seek information from witnesses as necessary,” they said, indicating the committee could seek to compel Manafort’s testimony at some point in the future. “As we’ve said before, we intend to get the answers that we need, one way or the other.”
Meanwhile, Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, whose firm produced a dossier last year including salacious but unverified information linking Trump to Russia, agreed to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a closed-door, transcribed interview. (A lawyer for Simpson had previously said his client would invoke his Fifth Amendment right if forced to appear.)
— Lawyering up: White-collar defense lawyer Abbe Lowell said he has a “confidential” relationship with Ivanka Trump, tied to his previously announced work for her husband. (National Law Journal)
TRUMP’S NEWEST DILEMMA:
— House lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to advance a Russian sanctions bill yesterday, delivering a foreign-policy brushback to Trump and setting up a veto dilemma for the president.Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian report: “Included in the package, which passed 419 to 3, are new measures targeting key Russian officials … as well as sanctions against Iran and North Korea in response to those nations’ weapons programs. Members of the Trump administration … have resisted the congressional push — in particular a provision attached to the Russian measures that would require Congress to sign off on any move to relieve those sanctions. The legislation was revised last week to address some administration concerns … But the bill passed Tuesday retains the congressional review requirement.”
Lawmakers in both parties urged Trump to sign the bill — but it remains unclear how the president will respond. “While the President supports tough sanctions on North Korea, Iran and Russia, the White House is reviewing the House legislation and awaits a final legislative package for the President’s desk,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement yesterday. “He has no intention of getting rid of them, but he wants to make sure we get the best deal for the American people possible. Congress does not have the best record on that …He’s going to study that legislation and see what the final product looks like.”
— Meanwhile, some European leaders warned the effort could actually backfire by dealing a blow to transatlantic efforts to curb Russian aggression against Ukraine. Michael Birnbaum reports: “The bill’s main goal is to force Trump to consult with Congress before dialing back sanctions … But the legislation would also give Trump the power to ban investments in certain Russian energy projects, most notably a major Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline under development called Nord Stream 2, and to promote U.S. energy exports instead. The bill’s language was softened in the days ahead of the vote … But many policymakers and experts in the E.U. capital, Brussels, and in Berlin still say that Congress may ultimately harm its own effort to pressure Russia.”
TRUMP IN OHIO:
— In his rally speech last night, Trump returned to his greatest hits from the campaign trail and offered an “unfiltered” perspective on his first six months as president. John Wagner and Jenna Johnson report: “Over the course of nearly an hour, Trump touted the work of his administration in getting gang members and other illegal immigrants ‘the hell out of our country,’ and he promised a continuing crackdown on ‘sanctuary cities.’ … And here in the heart of the industrial Midwest, Trump promised to refill lost manufacturing jobs in factories or to ‘rip ’em down and build brand-new ones.’ … As he started to detail his achievements, Trump offered an assessment of his work that he said he knew the media — whom he called ‘a dishonest group of people’ — would not share. ‘I think, with few exceptions, no president has done anywhere near what we’ve done in his first six months,’ Trump asserted. … Trump continued: ‘With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president who has ever held this office.’”
A message on the corner of Avondale Avenue and Market Street in South Youngstown, Ohio. (Dustin Franz/For The Washington Post)
— Jenna Johnson, who spoke to dozens of local residents in Youngstown, reports that Trump’s simplistic view of the former steel town is stuck in time: “To Trump, this part of America is still covered with ‘rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape’ … [But] some of the largest employers in the Youngstown area are local governments, Youngstown State University, and a major hospital and health-care companies that would likely suffer under the GOP’s proposed cuts. [Now], those living in Youngstown and its suburbs are worried about health care, the schools … the opioid crisis … the care of military veterans, and the region’s overall economy — access to full-time, good-paying jobs in place of the ones their parents and grandparents once had in the mills. … Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat who represents the area, said that he’s tired of Trump name-dropping Youngstown without doing anything to help the city. ‘He’s a great marketer, and he tries to use [Youngstown] as the kind of city to paint a picture about why people should support him and vote for him,’ Ryan said. ‘The reality is, people are waiting for him to do something for our area, and he has not done anything that he said that he was going to do.’”
THE NORTH KOREA THREAT IS VERY REAL:
— Pyongyang will be able to field a reliable, nuclear-capable ICBM capable of hitting North American cities as early as next year,U.S. officials have concluded in a new confidential assessment — drastically accelerating earlier predictions and further increasing pressure on U.S. and Asian leaders to halt the country’s progress. (Ellen Nakashima, Anna Fifield and Joby Warrick)
— Also on Tuesday, North Korea threatened to strike the “heart of the U.S.” should it try to remove Kim Jong Un from power. The threat was reported by Pyongyang’s state-run news agency, and comes in response to remarks from CIA director Mike Pompeo, who said recently that the U.S. needs to “find a way to separate” the supreme leader from his nuclear stockpile. (CNN)
— Western researchers tasked with scouring troves of North Korean internet data have noticed a very surprising trend among the country’s elite:their Internet usage looks a lot like our own. Very few families in the country have unfettered access to the web, but researchers said the ones that do use sites such as Gmail, Facebook, and iTunes – even using shipping sites such as Amazon or Alibaba to browse for goods. (Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
McCain’s colleagues welcomed him back to the Senate:
Senator John McCain just showed up on the Senate floor and voted yes to proceed with the healthcare bill discussion. God bless him!
— Randy Weber (@TXRandy14) July 25, 2017
I believe Senator McCain’s floor speech will be remembered for decades to come. Beautifully written & a great reminder for us all.
— Rep. Jeff Duncan (@RepJeffDuncan) July 25, 2017
a cobra once bit John McCain’s eyebrow. After five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died. pic.twitter.com/vbO7c9xFtP
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) July 26, 2017
But commentators on the left derided McCain for returning to D.C. after a medical emergency to advance debate on a bill that, according to estimates, would result in fewer insured Americans.
From a writer at Vox:
Inspiring to see McCain risk his health so that millions could some day experience the unique freedom that comes from having no insurance.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) July 25, 2017
From a former Obama and Clinton campaign staffer:
Senator Hirono cast her vote after a second surgery battling Stage 4 cancer. I think that deserves a standing ovation.
— Christina Reynolds (@creynoldsnc) July 25, 2017
From a liberal blogger:
John McCain isn’t just a cancer patient cutting off other cancer patients. He’s also an 80 year-old cutting off people in nursing homes.
— Eric Kleefeld (@EricKleefeld) July 25, 2017
McCain also had a change of heart on one of the health-care proposals:
McCain earlier today: “I will not vote for the bill as it is today.”
6 hours later
McCain votes for BCRA
— Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) July 26, 2017
Protesters thanked Sen. Lisa Murkowski for her “no” vote on the motion to proceed:
Murkowski walked out of the Capitol to chants of “stay strong Lisa” and “thank you” from people gathered outside.
— Caitlin Owens (@caitlinnowens) July 26, 2017
Sen. Susan Collins explained why she voted against advancing the bill:
I voted no on MTP. When dealing w/ a complex issue that affects millions of Americans & 1/6th of our economy, we must proceed carefully. 1/3
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) July 25, 2017
A congresswoman challenging Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) in his reelection bid next year lambasted him for voting in favor of opening debate:
— Jacky Rosen (@RosenforNevada) July 25, 2017
— Jacky Rosen (@RosenforNevada) July 25, 2017
Eric Schultz, a former DSCC communications director, sees parallels between the health vote and the 2002 vote to authorize the war in Iraq:
echoes Iraq vote: based on faulty info, seems politically obligatory @ the time, weighs on conscience for yrs, impacts country 4 generations
— Eric Schultz (@EricSchultz) July 25, 2017
Some on the right echoed the criticism.
From a Weekly Standard editor:
If GOP votes to proceed to a bill w/ no text, no hearings, no CBO score, no clarity on Byrd rule, they deserve the fiasco they’re inviting.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) July 25, 2017
Some perspectives on the recent polling—
From a Wonkblog reporter:
ACA polled at 40%-ish and ended in electoral armageddon for Dems. Trumpcare is currently at 25%. https://t.co/KCw2ydkYcc
— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) July 25, 2017
From a political scientist at MIT:
Aggregating across polls, only 25% of public supports GOP health care bill. It remains historically unpopular compared to other major bills. pic.twitter.com/6rXPfbyguj
— Chris Warshaw (@cwarshaw) July 25, 2017
Lots of chatter about Sessions taunts:
I asked two ppl close to Trump why he is tormenting Sessions instead of firing him. The answer from both, paraphrased: Because he can.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) July 25, 2017
From a Wall Street Journal reporter:
Wonder if Trump realizes if he succeeds in getting Sessions to prosecute HRC, he is in cross-hairs of the next Dem potus. #bananarepublic
— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) July 25, 2017
From an editor at the National Journal:
The revolution eats its own.
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) July 25, 2017
A Washingtonian writer added a lighter note:
It sounds like Trump is trying to get Jeff Sessions to break up with him first. Classic male move.
— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) July 25, 2017
From an Obama-era DOJ official:
Maybe Sessions can report Trump to Melania’s cyberbullying initiative?
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) July 25, 2017
Criticism also came from Republican lawmakers:
President Trump’s tweet today suggesting Attorney General Sessions pursue prosecution of a former political rival is highly inappropriate. 4
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 25, 2017
Mr. President, maybe just try a meeting? This is beneath the office – of any held office – from city councilman to POTUS. https://t.co/5u7E2n0m6G
— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) July 25, 2017
But Roger Stone, one of Trump’s former campaign associates, continued to defend the president:
Where are prosecutions of Obama Spy Crimes or Clinton thievery. ? AG too busy trying to lock up Americans for using medical marijuana? https://t.co/HvYBJqHWQ9
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) July 25, 2017
Some alarming merchandise was sold at Trump’s rally last night:
— Stephanie McNeal (@stephemcneal) July 25, 2017
Trump misstated the 2016 results from Youngstown:
Trump just told Ohio vets he won Youngstown in 2016. Fact check: he lost it to Clinton. https://t.co/oBByS9wsLR
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) July 25, 2017
And CNN credited Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) with his experience as an Eagle Scout:
— Mark Sanford (@RepSanfordSC) July 25, 2017
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
— New York Magazine, “Who Is Betsy DeVos?,” by Lisa Miller: “Betsy DeVos used to have more friends. Way back in 2016, a coalition of reputable, fair-minded education reformers — some of them Democrats — got together to vouch for her. Jeb Bush liked her. So did his mother. So did Campbell Brown, the TV anchor turned education activist. On Twitter, Eva Moskowitz, the prominent charter-schools founder, said she was ‘thrilled to see such a passionate leader selected for such an important role.’ True, these were people who had taken her money and sat on her boards (or she on theirs), but they still staked their optimism on her prospective success. But what’s right in the bubble in which she has always lived doesn’t translate on YouTube, or in Cabinet meetings, or on the battlefield of public schools … This is what those advocates who had admired the zeal she brought to their cause didn’t have the foresight to grasp. Out of Michigan, without her checkbook, DeVos is like a mermaid with legs: clumsy, conspicuous, and unable to move forward.”
— Politico Magazine, “For America, It Looks Like Chaos. For Trump, It’s Just Tuesday,” by Michael Kruse: “This is how Trump ran his business, and it’s how he ran his campaign. For six months now, it’s how he’s run his White House. But within the whirl of these past two nonstop, dizzying days, it has reached blinking-red-light levels. To people who have been around him, and those who still are, from Trump Tower to the West Wing, this can be unnerving. To people across the country and the world, it can feel dismaying or disorienting or just plain insane. For Trump, though, it feels like … the start to another week. ‘This is Donald,’ former Trump Organization Vice President Louise Sunshine told me Tuesday. ‘This is his style.’”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“Psychiatry group tells members they can ignore ‘Goldwater rule’ and comment on Trump’s mental health,” from STAT: “A leading psychiatry group has told its members they should not feel bound by a longstanding rule against commenting publicly on the mental state of public figures — even the president. The statement, an email this month from the executive committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association to its 3,500 members, represents the first significant crack in the profession’s decades-old united front aimed at preventing experts from discussing the psychiatric aspects of politicians’ behavior. It will likely make many of its members feel more comfortable speaking openly about President Trump’s mental health.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Wasserman Schultz aide arrested trying to leave the country,” from Politico: “Imran Awan, a House staffer at the center of a criminal investigation potentially impacting dozens of Democratic lawmakers, has been arrested on bank fraud and is prevented from leaving the country while the charges are pending. … Awan pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to one count of bank fraud during his arraignment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Awan is accused of attempting to defraud the Congressional Federal Credit Union by obtaining a $165,000 home equity loan for a rental property, which is against the credit union’s policies since it is not the owner’s primary residence. Those funds were then included as part of a wire transfer to two individuals in Faisalabad, Pakistan.”
Trump will give an afternoon speech to the American Legion Boys Nation and the American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation and will later make an announcement on jobs.
Pence will deliver a speech to the White House interns before joining Trump for the jobs announcement.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
When a hot mic was left on after a Senate meeting, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) was caught saying about President Trump, “I think he’s crazy. I mean, I don’t say that lightly and as a kind of a goofy guy.” To which Sen. Susan Collins responded, “I’m worried.”
Reed and Collins went on to chat about Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.), who suggested in a radio interview that, if Collins were a man, he would challenge her to a duel over her opposition to the Senate health-care bill. Reed said, “Trust me. Do you know why he challenged you to a duel? ‘Cause you could beat the s— out of him.” Collins replied, “Well, he’s huge. And he — I don’t mean to be unkind, but he’s so unattractive it’s unbelievable.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
— It should be another nice day in the District. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “We do have a bit of an onshore flow, with light winds from the northeast this morning, and then from the southeast this afternoon. That means partly cloudy skies with the chance of a sprinkle along the way. But we can’t complain about highs in the low to mid-80s, even with the humidity rising toward the moderate range.”
— The Brewers crushed the Nationals 8-0 last night. (Jorge Castillo)
— One of the undocumented immigrants who died in a San Antonio tractor-trailer Saturday grew up in Northern Virginia and graduated from a Fairfax County high school before getting into legal trouble and being deported back to Guatemala. Maria Sacchetti, Moriah Balingit and Fenit Nirappil report: “He was sneaking back into the United States. [19-year-old] Frank G. Fuentes was one of at least six Guatemalans packed into a poorly ventilated truck with scores of other migrants who had crossed the border illegally, said Cristy Andrino, the consul of Guatemala in McAllen, Tex. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Fuentes had been brought to this country before his third birthday and was deported on March 2 after being convicted of assault and battery by a mob.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Trevor Noah recounted how the Republicans’ health-care bill came back to life:
Stephen Colbert dissected Trump’s speech to the Boy Scouts:
The Post analyzed on how Trump’s behavior aligns with the Boy Scout’s Law:
The Fact Checker team explored Trump’s “Pinocchio filled” 26 hours:
And a baby panda was weighed at Tokyo’s zoo:
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