Congress approves final tax reform bill, handing Trump year-end victory – Trending Stuff

The House gave the final stamp of approval Wednesday to a sweeping tax reform package, handing President Trump his first major legislative victory and most Americans a tax cut starting next year.

With a 224-201 House vote, Congress sent the $1.5 trillion package to Trump’s desk. The biggest rewrite of the federal tax code since the Reagan administration will usher in steep rate cuts for American companies, double the deduction millions of families claim on their annual returns and make a host of other changes taking effect in a matter of weeks.

During a celebration at the White House with lawmakers on Wednesday afternoon, Trump called it “the largest tax cut in the history of our country” and singled out House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for praise.

“Paul Ryan and Mitch, it was a little team,” Trump said. “We just got together and we worked very hard, didn’t we?”

President Trump sits at the White House with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to talk taxes last month. The tax bill passed both the House and the Senate on Tuesday.  (AP)

While the bill already earned House approval earlier Tuesday, the Senate had to ship it back for a final vote after stripping out three provisions that violated chamber rules, in a last-minute glitch. Twelve Republicans once again defected Wednesday to vote with Democrats in opposition. 

Though Democrats uniformly opposed the package, the White House and GOP leaders were triumphant, vowing that the bill’s popularity would improve once taxpayers see the effect. 


“We made a promise to the American people that we would do this if they gave us the opportunity,” Ryan, R-Wis., told “The Story with Martha MacCallum.” “We made a promise that if elected, this is what we would do. We’re keeping our promise.”

The Tax Policy Center estimates that 80 percent of taxpayers will see a tax cut next year.

Vice President Pence on Capitol Hill ahead of the Senate vote on tax reform.  (AP)

Democrats sustained their vocal opposition to the bill – they’ve dubbed it a “scam” benefiting the wealthy – into the final moments. Protesters interrupted votes in both chambers. During the Senate vote overnight, they chanted “kill the bill, don’t kill us,” as Vice President Pence repeatedly called for order. 

Pence did not have to serve as a tie-breaker, with the bill passing the Senate on a 51-48 vote; only Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is recovering from brain cancer treatment, was not present for the vote.

Pence told Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” he was surprised that no Democrats in either chamber of Congress voted for the bill.

“I watched President Trump bring Democrat members of the House and the Senate to the White House for meetings, for meals, to sit down, to say ‘we want to work with you,’” said Pence. “When you have the majority of the Democrats in the Senate sign a letter last summer taking themselves completely out of the equation, that’s a disappointment not just to our administration, but to the American people.”


The passage of the bill, just before the end of the year and the looming congressional recess, gives Trump a long-sought Capitol Hill victory, after repeated attempts to overhaul ObamaCare failed in the face of internal Republican divisions and unified Democratic opposition. The tax bill does include one major rollback of the Affordable Care Act, repealing the individual mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance.

The changes to the tax system are more sweeping.

The final bill – a combination of previously passed House and Senate legislation – would slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. It would double the standard deduction used by about two-thirds of U.S. households, to $24,000 for married couples. And the $1,000-per-child tax credit would double to $2,000, with up to $1,400 available in IRS refunds for families who owe little or no taxes.

The corporate tax cut would be permanent, while the tax cuts for individuals would expire in 2026.

The Trump administration presumes that doubling the standard deduction would lead to even more families claiming it.

But those who itemize would lose some deductions.

The bill would set a new $10,000 cap on the deduction that millions use in connection with state and local income, property and sales taxes. It also would limit the mortgage interest deduction to loans up to $750,000, down from $1 million.

And it imposes a low one-time tax on companies’ overseas earnings, nudging them to return money they’ve stashed abroad.

At the same time, the bill would lower the top rate for individual and married filers from 39.6 percent to 37 percent. Further, it would set a deduction for “pass-through” business income at 20 percent. And it would curb the so-called estate tax.

 (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

These provisions and others fueled Democratic complaints that the legislation was skewed to favor corporations and the wealthy – while expanding the deficit.    

On the House floor Tuesday, Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., mocked Republicans who say passage of the bill would be a Christmas gift to the American people.

“I have never seen such intellectual dishonesty,” Sewell said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s more like the Grinch that stole Christmas.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke in front of a giant sign that read, “#GOPTAXSCAM.”

The bill would bring average initial tax cuts for Americans across all income lines, but by 2027, it would boost average levies for everyone earning up to $75,000, which includes most taxpayers, Congress’ nonpartisan tax analysts estimated Monday.

A separate study by the Tax Policy Center, a private nonpartisan group, found that individual taxes would be reduced on average next year by $1,600. That ranged, on average, from $60 for people earning below $25,000 to $7,640 for those making above $149,000. Those in the top 1 percent, earning over $733,000, would see average tax cuts of $51,140.

Fox News’ Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Moores Defeat in Alabama Deals Trump a Rebuke Ahead of 2018 Races – Trending Stuff

The defeat of Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race by Democrat Doug Jones was a stunning rebuke to the GOP’s anti-establishment wing led by Steve Bannon and a major political embarrassment for President Donald Trump.

Moore’s candidacy was the opening gambit in Bannon’s war to oust Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP’s congressional leadership. While Trump backed Moore’s primary challenger at McConnell’s behest, he jumped in with a full-throated endorsement of Moore a week before the election in an attempt to put him over the top.

All that unraveled on Tuesday night. While Jones is unlikely to be seated before the Senate votes on a massive tax-cut plan, the finger-pointing that began among Republicans regarding his election points to an underlying chasm in the party that may impair its ability going forward to fulfill the president’s agenda.

Trump, who once said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still win votes, found his limit with Moore — even in a state he won by 28 percentage points just one year ago. Combined with recent Republican losses in statewide elections in Virginia and New Jersey, Moore’s defeat blows a hole in Trump’s aura of political invincibility that will embolden Democrats as they prepare for the 2018 congressional elections.

The result was also a loss for McConnell and congressional Republicans because it trims their Senate advantage to 51-49 as they enter some tough negotiations on spending with Democrats next year. But it also may bring some measure of relief to GOP lawmakers running for re-election who feared the sexual misconduct claims against Moore would taint the party for years to come.

The outcome isn’t likely to quell the fight with Bannon’s insurgency.

Minutes after the race was called, Andy Surabian, a Bannon ally who is senior adviser to the pro-Trump Great American Alliance, laid the blame at the feet of the Senate’s top leader.

“Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment got their wish: they successfully delivered Alabama to a liberal Democrat,” Surabian said.

On Wednesday, Representative Pete King, a Republican from New York, said the election result underscores the failure of Bannon’s strategy. “After Alabama disaster GOP must do right thing and DUMP Steve Bannon,” he tweeted. “His act is tired, inane and morally vacuous. If we are to Make America Great Again for all Americans, Bannon must go! And go NOW!!”

Republican Carlos Curbelo of Florida taunted Bannon for backing “disgusting Roy Moore.”

Doug Jones celebrate at an election night party in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S., on Dec. 12.

Photographer: Nicole Craine/Bloomberg

“Congratulations to the Bannon wing of the @GOP for gifting a seat to @SenateDems in one of the reddest states,” Curbelo wrote on Twitter. “You have no future in our country’s politics.”

It was Trump who sounded a gracious note at the end of the night, congratulating Jones on Twitter “on a hard fought victory” and saying Republicans will have another shot at the seat in a short time — Jones will face re-election in 2020.

On Wednesday morning, Trump changed his tune and said he knew all along that Moore couldn’t win because “the deck was stacked.” “The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election,” Trump said on Twitter Wednesday morning. “I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!”

Jones, a former federal prosecutor, prevailed in a solidly Republican state by running a low-key local campaign while Moore was consumed by a national furor following allegations he had molested teenage girls while in his thirties.

With Moore out of the picture, Republicans may have dodged a bullet. They now won’t have to answer uncomfortable questions about why they tolerate a colleague accused of initiating a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl and assaulting a 16-year-old. McConnell had promised an ethics investigation of Moore if he won. That might have led to a contentious vote on expulsion, which in turn would have kept alive uncomfortable questions about Trump’s own conduct. More than a dozen women have accused the president of sexual harassment or other misconduct over the years.

McConnell’s allies were so worried about Moore that they spent millions trying to defeat him in the primary. Now the majority leader can point to Moore’s defeat as another in a string of disastrous candidates pushed by the party’s right wing that have cost the GOP Senate seats in Delaware, Indiana and Missouri.

“Any illusion that Steve Bannon’s brand of politics could be successful vanished when a state like Alabama became competitive,” said Josh Holmes, former campaign manager and chief of staff for McConnell. “You’d have to be absolutely blind and willfully ignorant to not realize this has been a national embarrassment.”

Even without the sexual misconduct claims, Moore was a polarizing figure. He was twice ousted from the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to follow federal court orders, argued in 2006 against allowing Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota to serve because he is Muslim, and backed impeaching Supreme Court justices who voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

Bannon has pledged to run insurgents against every GOP incumbent except Ted Cruz of Texas. Now he’ll have a much harder time carrying that strategy into November’s congressional elections.

Dealing with Moore would have been a daily challenge for a Republican Party already struggling to unite behind its agenda. Moore said he was running so God could save the country, and he vilified McConnell and other leaders as establishment sellouts.

He favored bans on homosexual conduct and gays serving in the military. He had said he believed former President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., and recently was quoted as saying at a rally that the U.S. was great before the Civil War “even though we had slavery” because, he said, families stuck together and the country had a direction.

$100 Check

Some Republican senators engaged in public debates over just how much to oppose Moore. Senator Jeff Flake tweeted a photo of a $100 check he sent to Jones, while Nebraska’s Ben Sasse tweeted that both Flake, in backing Jones, and the Republican National Committee, which renewed its financial support for Moore, had gotten it wrong. Strikingly, Republican Richard Shelby, Alabama’s senior senator, said he didn’t vote for Moore and instead wrote in the name of a “distinguished Republican.”

The outcome adds urgency to Republican efforts to send a massive tax-cut bill to Trump’s desk before Jones can be seated — by Jan. 3 at the latest — and it greatly complicates Trump’s plan to attempt a broader repeal of the Affordable Care Act next year.

The one-seat gain gives Democrats a slightly better shot in 2018 at winning the Senate majority, which they could use to control the agenda, investigate the president and block nominees, from the Supreme Court on down.

On Wednesday, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, told MSNBC that McConnell should hold the tax bill until Jones is sworn in so that Alabamans can have their voices heard. Van Hollen said that, while that was unlikely, he sees a national trend in which voters are signaling that “they don’t like Trumpism and they want to go in a different direction.”

A Democratic majority is still a long shot. The election map strongly favors the GOP, with 10 Democrats up for re-election in states won by Trump and just one Republican incumbent — Dean Heller of Nevada — running in a state won by Democrat Hillary Clinton.

To take the majority, Democrats would likely need to re-elect their incumbents, defeat Heller and pick up an open seat in Arizona or Tennessee — or, in perhaps the dream Democratic scenario, topple Cruz in Texas.

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Trump will end health care cost-sharing subsidies – Trending Stuff

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump plans to end a key set of Obamacare subsidies that helped lower-income enrollees pay for health care, the White House said Thursday, a dramatic move that raises questions about the law’s future.

The late-night announcement is part of Trump’s aggressive push to dismantle aspects of his predecessor’s signature health law after several failed attempts by Congress to repeal it earlier this year.

In a series of tweets Friday morning, Trump called on Democrats to reach out to him to “fix” the law, which he called a “broken mess.”

“The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!” he tweeted.

The move also puts the spotlight back on Congress, where lawmakers in both parties have urged the administration to continue the payments to stabilize the Obamacare markets in the short term.

While senior congressional Republicans oppose the payments themselves — they sued the Obama administration to stop them and have tried for years to repeal the underlying law altogether — there’s recognition of what ending them suddenly could do to the millions of Americans insured through the Obamacare exchanges.

Democrats have repeatedly pressed the administration for a longer term commitment that the payments would be made, but Trump has directed his advisers to keep them on a month-to-month basis, in part for negotiating leverage, according to sources with knowledge of the discussions.

Nearly 6 million enrollees, or 57%, qualify for the cost-sharing payments this year, according to the most recent data from the Department of Health and Human Services. The subsidies are expected to cost the federal government about $7 billion in 2017.

The uncertainty over the subsidies’ fate was a key reason that many insurers are substantially hiking their rates for 2018 — some by more than 20%. Several major carriers dropped out of the individual market, unwilling to wait and see what Trump and congressional Republicans would do.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the decision was “based on guidance from the Justice Department.”

“The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system,” Sanders said in a statement.

Democratic leaders called the decision another instance of Trump sabotaging Obamacare.

“It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in a joint statement. “Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it.”

But GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, defended the President’s decision to CNN’s Chris Cuomo on CNN’s “New Day” Friday morning.

“These (cost sharing reduction) payments are in fact illegal. The President said he is no longer going to engage in making these payments, so let’s move forward and do what we should have done a long time ago,” he said, later adding, “Obamacare is a mess and we need to replace the whole thing, repeal the whole thing.”

This was the second major move on Obamacare Thursday. Earlier in the day, Trump signed an executive order charging his administration with developing policies to increase health care competition and choice in order to cut prices. However, it could also destabilize Obamacare by siphoning off younger and healthier Americans from the exchanges.

What will Congress do?

Several top Republicans, including House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and Sen. Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the chamber’s health committee, have called for a short term legislative solution to the issue in order to eliminate uncertainty that has been rattling health insurers for months.

“Cutting health care subsidies will mean more uninsured in my district. @POTUS promised more access, affordable coverage.,” Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican who will be retiring at the end of this term, said in a Twitter post after the news broke Thursday night. “This does opposite.”

Alexander has been negotiating with his Democratic counterpart on the committee, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, on a deal to fund the subsidies for two years in return for more regulatory flexibility for states for their insurance plans.

But up until now, those negotiations haven’t led to a deal — and there have been serious questions inside House and Senate leadership as to whether such a proposal could be brought to the floor, given the vociferous opposition from conservative members of the party opposed to any “fix” of Obamacare.

“Under no circumstance should Congress attempt to expand Obamacare by cutting a check for President Obama’s bailout of insurance companies,” tweeted GOP Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina. “Instead, Congress must fulfill the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare with high-quality, patient-centered health care.”

December could be the month to watch.

Democrats are likely to demand funding in any spending package necessary to keep the government open after December 8.

But Trump’s move throws a new wrench into an eight week period fraught with potential problems, from finalizing the spending bill, to finding a solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program Trump also rescinded, all while attempting to accomplish Republicans’ cornerstone legislative effort: tax reform in the same period.

“Yes, this complicates things,” a GOP congressional aide acknowledged. “There is no question about that.”

Will costs go up?

What insurers do now remains to be seen.

Insurers have already signed contracts committing them to participating in 2018 and setting their rates. They must continuing offering the reduced deductibles and co-pays to eligible enrollees, but they won’t be paid for them. That’s why many asked for such large rate hikes.

Obamacare enrollees eligible to receive premium subsidies, which are not affected by Trump’s move, will continue to get discounted rates. But those who don’t could see their costs skyrocket again next year.

The action, however, is likely to spur many lawsuits. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is part of a coalition defending the subsidies, swiftly announced that group would take action against Trump.

Categories CNN

Price out as HHS secretary after private plane scandal – Trending Stuff

Washington (CNN)Tom Price, the embattled health and human services secretary, resigned Friday in the midst of a scandal over his use of private planes, a storm that enraged President Donald Trump and undercut his promise to bring accountability to Washington.

Price’s departure came as he’s being investigated by the department’s inspector general for using private jets for multiple government business trips, even to fly distances often as short as from Washington to Philadelphia. The cost for the trips ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The scandal infuriated Trump, who viewed the controversy as a needless distraction from his agenda. Over the course of the week, Trump fumed to aides about Price’s flights, which he deemed “stupid,” according to multiple sources. Instead of moving past the storm, Price’s offer to reimburse the government for only a fraction of the flights’ costs enraged Trump further.

Speaking less than an hour before the resignation was announced, Trump bemoaned the optics of the matter, which he said obscured what otherwise had been a cost-saving tenure.

“I was disappointed because I didn’t like it, cosmetically or otherwise. I was disappointed,” Trump said.

Price and his aides have insisted that the trips he took by private charter jet had been approved through the usual legal and ethics offices at HHS. But the appearance of a millionaire Cabinet secretary flying routes easily navigated by far cheaper means proved an optics nightmare for an administration already accused of being out of touch with regular Americans.

Price is the latest casualty in an administration that’s seen a high rate of dramatic departures over its first eight months. Since taking office, Trump has dismissed or seen quit his national security adviser, press secretary, communications director, chief strategist, acting attorney general and FBI director. The tumult has come as Trump struggles to fulfill key aspects of his agenda on Capitol Hill, and as his team confronts its most dire challenge yet on a storm-demolished Puerto Rico.

Trump was incensed that Price’s actions undermined his vow to “drain the swamp,” though Price is not the only Cabinet official to have used private air charters to travel around the country. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have both flown on private planes during their tenures in the administration.

The White House said this week it was examining whether to adopt stricter oversight of Cabinet secretaries’ travel plans.

The first sign of Trump’s ire emerged on Wednesday, when he said only “we’ll see” after being asked if he was planning to fire Price. Neither Trump nor his top aides could say in the following days whether Price retained the President’s confidence.

Departing the White House on Friday, Trump called Price a “very fine man” who had nonetheless made a grave mistake.

“This is an administration that saves hundreds of millions of dollars on renegotiating things,” Trump said. “So I don’t like to see somebody that perhaps there’s the perception that it wasn’t right.”

The resignation was announced as Trump flew aboard Air Force One for another weekend at his golf club in New Jersey. Stepping off his own plane, Trump offered a thumbs-up sign when reporters asked if he’d accepted Price’s resignation.

Price himself offered a rosy picture of his future on Thursday evening, telling CNN that he “absolutely” planned to stay on as health secretary — a claim that was ultimately not meant to be.

Not close

Trump, who never grew as close to Price as he has to some of his aides, also viewed the health secretary as an ineffective promoter of Republican plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, an effort that has failed multiple times over the course of Trump’s eight months in office.

During a rally with Boy Scouts in July, Trump quipped that if Price couldn’t wrangle the votes, he’d dismiss him.

“He better get them. Oh, he better,” Trump said. “Otherwise I’ll say, ‘Tom, you’re fired.’ “

Price didn’t get the votes, but it was his use of private aircraft that ultimately led to his demise in the Trump administration.

Politico first reported Price’s use of charter jets for official business last week and found that the secretary has traveled on charter flights at least 24 times since May, citing people familiar with his travel plans and a review of HHS documents.

Charter plane operators estimated 24 flights would have cost $400,000, Politico reported. Commercial trips would have cost thousands of dollars less. The Health and Human Services inspector general is reviewing whether the means of travel was appropriate.

Later, it was revealed that Price also took US military aircraft on two trips abroad, bringing the total cost of his non-commercial travel to more than $1 million. The military flights were approved by the White House.

Breaking precedent

Price’s travel breaks with the precedent set by former President Barack Obama’s HHS secretaries Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius, who flew commercially when flying within the US.

Price said in a statement on Thursday that would write a personal check to the US Treasury to cover the cost of his travel on private charter planes.

“The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for my seat on those planes,” he proclaimed, though it was later revealed he would only pay for his seat and not the total cost of chartering a plane.

An HHS spokesperson said the check would come to $51,887.31, a small percentage of the total cost of the private flights.

Price, both in his role as Trump’s health boss and as a Republican congressman from Georgia, was a frequent critic of government spending. He told CNN in April that he wanted to cut redundancy and waste in his agency.

“For us to say, ‘OK, let’s just throw more money at that system, let’s see if more money helps that out,’ is the wrong way,” Price told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta.

While at HHS, Price played an integral part helping craft many iterations of alternatives to Obamacare — all of which ultimately failed to pass. Price was also part of the executive opioid commission announced by Trump in March.

Prior to his role in the administration, Price was a Georgia representative for over 10 years, and was an orthopedic surgeon for 20 years. He was the third doctor to hold the HHS secretary position.

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Categories CNN

John McCain won’t back Graham-Cassidy bill, likely ending GOP health care push – Trending Stuff

(CNN)Sen. John McCain declared Friday in a statement that he cannot “in good conscience” vote for the GOP’s latest strategy to overhaul Obamacare, probably ending Republicans’ latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” the Arizona Republican said in a statement. “I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will (affect) insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won’t be available at the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.”

McCain’s “no” vote makes it very likely Republicans won’t be able to repeal and replace Obamacare before September 30, as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said he would not back the effort and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is also expected to vote “no” on the proposal.

Republicans need at least 50 votes to pass the measure under the process of reconciliation.

McCain was one of three most-watched members on the fence and considered a key vote on the bill. Without his support, Republicans would need to get Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, as well as Collins to sign on. It’s unlikely considering the fact that Collins said Friday afternoon that she was leaning against the bill and had key concerns that the legislation did not do enough to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions.

“I’m leaning against the bill,” Collins said Friday at a Portland, Maine, event, according to The Portland Press Herald.

A Republican aide involved in the process said Friday afternoon that GOP leaders are at the “evaluating options” stage right now.

The aide added, “I’m not breaking news telling you this isn’t good.”

Paul, the only other Republican other than McCain who has so far definitively come out against Graham-Cassidy, is “unlikely” to change his mind even if changes are made to the bill, his spokesman Sergio Gor told CNN.

McCain’s announcement comes despite that one of the bill’s key sponsors — Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — is a close confidant. The thinking was if anyone could convince McCain to vote “yes,” it would be Graham.

“I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition. Far from it,” McCain said. “The bill’s authors are my dear friends, and I think the world of them. I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs of what is best for the nation, and sense. So am I.”

McCain has said for weeks that he would not support health care legislation that had not gone through “regular order,” meaning Senate hearings, an amendment process and a rigorous floor debate.

Graham said he “respectfully” disagrees with McCain and will “press on” with his legislation.

“My friendship with John McCain isn’t based on how he votes but respect for how he has lived his life and the person he is,” Graham said in a statement and on Twitter.

McCain voted “no” on the last health care proposal in July for the same reason. McCain’s dramatic floor vote, which happened just weeks after he was diagnosed with brain cancer, came in the early morning and was captured as one of his most “maverick” moments in the Senate.

Democrats praise McCain

Just moments after McCain announced his opposition, Democrats seized on the opportunity to bring back bipartisan talks that had stalled last week.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee had held bipartisan hearings over the last month on how to stabilize Obamacare marketplaces and were making progress in their negotiations. But the House leadership made it clear last week that the chamber probably would not be able to pass such a bill.

As soon as McCain announced his opposition, Murray announced she was still open to reigniting those talks.

“I agree with Senator McCain that the perfect way to get things done in the Senate — especially on an issue as important to families as their health care — is through regular order and working together to find common ground,” Murray said. “I’m still at the table ready to keep working, and I remain confident that we can reach a bipartisan agreement as soon as this latest partisan strategy by Republican leaders is finally set aside.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also praised McCain shortly after his announcement.

“John McCain shows the identical courage in Congress that he showed when he was a naval aviator,” the New York Democrat said in a statement. “I have assured Senator McCain that as soon as repeal is off the table, we Democrats are intent on resuming the bipartisan procedure.”

For her part, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said her members would continue working “to put the stake in the center of this monstrous bill.”

“This weekend, we’ll continue to highlight the catastrophic costs Republicans are trying to inflict on hard-working Americans,” she said in a letter to colleagues.

This story was upgraded and will upgrade with additional developments.

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Categories CNN

Trump Launches Into Political Tirade at Boy Scouts Jamboree – Trending Stuff

U.S. President Donald Trump delivered a meandering political speech to thousands of Boy Scouts on Monday evening, including a rip at former President Barack Obama.

“Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts,’’ Trump asked as he took the stage in front of a boisterous crowd of about 40,000 scouts in West Virginia. But he then launched into a speech attacking the news media and reminiscing about his election victory over Hillary Clinton.

Trump throughout the National Boy Scout Jamboree on July 24.

Photographer: Saul Loeb/AFP through Getty Images

He spent a few minutes talking about the Republican health-care bill, which is scheduled for a vote tomorrow in the Senate despite uncertainty about whether enough Republicans will support it.

“Hopefully he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this dreadful thing called Obamacare,’’ Trump said after introducing Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

Trump’s assault on the Affordable Care Act — among Obama’s signature domestic policy achievements — was met with boisterous applause.

“By the way? ” Trump said to Price. “He better get them. He better get them. Otherwise, I’ll state ‘Tom, you’re fired. ’’’

Trump also singled out West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican who has voiced concern about the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“You better get Senator Capito to vote for it,’’ Trump said.

Throughout the speech, Trump regularly alternated to inspire partisan attacks on his political opponents, and young boys’ group.

The Boy Scouts of America said in a statement that the invitation for the sitting U.S. president to go to the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition and is in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific policies.

He mentioned the importance of devotion to the Boy Scouts, before lamenting the lack of devotion in Washington. Trump has complained lately about Republicans not doing enough to support and protect him.

“By the way, we can use some more devotion,’’ he told the Scouts.

Trump spent a few minutes reminiscing about his electoral victory, recounting the night of Nov. 8, as several states were being called for him. He said Clinton didn’as the group of boys responded with a hail of boos, t work hard enough, and paused.

“Do we remember that day? What a beautiful day,” Trump said, adding that it was difficult for a Republican to win the Electoral College and attacking the media for ignoring his chances.

“These dishonest people, they said, ‘There is no path to victory for Donald Trump,’’&#x2019. “They forgot about the forgotten people. ’’

Trump also took the opportunity to attack his predecessor.

“By the way, only a question. Did President Obama ever come to a jamboree? ’’ Trump asked the crowd. “The answer is no, but we’ll be back. ’’

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Trump targets Congress members’ own health plans after ObamaCare repeal falls flat – Trending Stuff

President Trump, hoping to prod reluctant lawmakers to attempt for an ObamaCare overhaul deal, has zeroed in.  

The president’s ultimatum to Congress: Figure out a way forward on health care, or lose a valuable insurance. The advantage allows part of their ObamaCare premium prices to be covered by taxpayers.  

The president will not accept those who said it’s, quote, time to move on, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The president has twice threatened to target the advantage in the wake of Senate Republicans failing to pass their so-called repeal health care program that was skinny on Friday.  

If ObamaCare is hurting people, & it is, why shouldnt it hurt the insurers & why should Congress not be paying what public pays? Trump tweeted on Monday. Over the weekend, Trump similarly warned he would “end” that the “BAILOUTS” for members of Congress if they don’t pass a health bill soon.

The president issued the warning both to the insurer (referring to controversial payments which could be in jeopardy) and to Congress. But his threat to terminate the advantage for the latter, the subject of a long-running Washington battle, could grab lawmakers’ attention — considering allies say he has the authority to follow through.  

I think the president would be absolutely within his rights to cancel the Obama rule that conferred this subsidy on Congress, Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., said. 

The carve-out itself dates back to 2013. 

Under the Obama administration, the Office of Personnel Management decided to grant what is often described as an exemption under the Affordable Care Act allowing lawmakers and their staff to keep getting a government subsidy for health care. 

This required a special OPM decision to categorize Congress as a small business, allowing lawmakers and their aides to get government payments as an employer contribution through the exchange. Absent that, they would have been directed onto the individual exchange which prohibits an employer contribution. 

The decision has drawn criticism from Republicans for years. 

DeSantis said killing the exemption would give lawmakers an incentive to get a health care plan approved. 

I applaud the president for raising this issue and I think if he moves swiftly on it, I think youd see a lot of these members and senators would want to work to repeal ObamaCare very quickly, DeSantis said on Fox & Friends Monday, adding that he personally declines the “subsidy.” 

DeSantis, who introduced legislation in January to end these exemptions, referred to the rules that apply to small businesses with 50 employees or less. Congress, by contrast, employs over 20,000. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., have been outspoken on the exemptions as well, pushing to repeal payments for members of Congress.

Other Americans who are in these exchanges are not getting employer subsidiesits illegal and yet somehow Congress gets a work-around, DeSantis said. 

But in a tweet storm on Saturday, Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy slammed Trump for his threat.

This is a clear threat to Congress: pass my health bill or as punishment I will end health care for you, your staff, & your constituents, Murphy tweeted. Trump isnt saying these things will happen naturally. He has the power to cut off health care for leg branch employees & crater exchanges.

Murphy added moments after, I would argue this is a very serious moment. President making personal threats to us and our constituents if we dont pass his bill.

Conservative groups have also pushed to end the exception for congressional members and staffers. Just last week, 40 leaders of conservative groups wrote the president a letter, urging him expeditiously to end the scheme.

This fraud of instructing Congress to masquerade as a small business was the key to the scheme, because if members of Congress and their staff had signed up for ObamaCare under the individual exchangeas any other American losing employer coverage has tothey would have had to pay their own premiums, the letter stated, telling Trump he has the power to end the scheme by directing OPM to rescind the Obama rule.

White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said this policy is a perfect example of the swamp-like atmosphere in D.C.

OPM and the Obama administration put out a special ruling that said that members of Congress and staffs dont have to live by this law, he told “Fox & Friends.” 

Short criticized the subsidy for Capitol Hill.

You are currently forcing us to live with this, but you are getting an exemption, Short said.  

Brooke Singman is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

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‘Bothersome’ that Mueller is ‘very good friends’ with Comey – Trending Stuff

” Look there has actually been no blockage. There’s been no collusion. There has actually been dripping by Comey,” Trump included. “But there’s been no collusion, no blockage, and practically everyone consents to that. We’ll have to see.”

Trump implicated Mueller of working with “all Hillary Clinton advocates” to staff the examination. A minimum of 3 members of Mueller’s legal group have actually offered political contributions nearly specifically to Democrats, CNN reported in an analysis of Federal Election Commission records.

In other remarks in the complete interview on Fox, which aired Friday early morning, Trump repeated how inefficient Democrats and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have actually been at winning elections. His remarks began the heels of Democrat Jon Ossoff’s loss to Republican Karen Handel in the unique election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District seat Tuesday– the most pricey House race in United States history.

“I hope she does not step down. It would be a really, really unfortunate day for Republicans if she steps down,” Trump stated. “I would be extremely, really dissatisfied if she did. I wish to keep her right where she is since our record is remarkable versus her, however we will see exactly what takes place.”

“There has actually been a great deal of speak about her stepping down,” he stated. “We will need to see exactly what occurs.”

Several Democratic legislators have stated Pelosi’s position as a popular face of the Democratic Party will continue to make winning elections tough. In unique elections for House seats left by Republicans who ended up in Trump’s Cabinet, Democrats have actually gone 0-for-4 , losing races in Georgia, Montana, South Carolina and Kansas.
On healthcare, Trump stated he thinks he will win over Republican legislators who have actually promised to vote versus the GOP costs to change the Affordable Care Act.
Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah stated in a joint declaration Thursday that they’re “not prepared to elect this costs.”

“They are likewise 4 heros and are 4 good friends of mine,” Trump stated. “I believe they will most likely arrive. We will need to see. You understand, healthcare is a really tight spot.”

“I have been here just 5 months, individuals stating, ‘Where is the healthcare?’ Well, I have actually performed in 5 months what other individuals have not performed in years,” Trump included. “People have actually dealt with healthcare for several years. It’s an extremely complex scenario from the viewpoint you do something that’s great for one group however bad for another.”

Categories CNN

The Resistance Now: activists say ‘hell no’ to Republican healthcare bill

Progressives sprung into action with lots objecting outside the Senate bulk leaders workplace, while Democrats took stock after Ossoffs loss

So about that health care expense …

Dozens of individuals were apprehended after objecting outdoors Senate bulk leader Mitch McConnells workplace on Thursday consisting of some in wheelchairs as Republicans revealed Republicans revealed Trumpcare 2.0 (or are we on 3.0 now?).

Activists from impairment rights company Adapt collected outside McConnells workplace to show versus the expense, which would considerably cut Medicaid and strip financing from Planned Parenthood, to call simply 2 procedures.

A protester is led away by cops on Thursday. Picture: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Progressive companies sprung into action to attempt to beat it.

Our Revolution established a page on its site prompting individuals to do something about it to stop AHCA [the Senate expense is called the Better Care Reconciliation Act however a number of the concepts are the exact same as the AHCA House expense] and avoid millions from losing their health care.

The company has actually supplied a number which will link individuals to their Senators workplace, and has actually likewise offered some talking points.

AHCA would leave 23 million Americans without health care.

The costs would enable insurance provider to victimize clients and reject protection based upon pre-existing conditions.

A bulk of citizens highly oppose rescinding and changing the Affordable Care Act (likewise called Obamacare).

Americans wish to broaden health care, not gut it. Two-thirds of Americans support Medicare for all.

Indivisible has its own page too, where individuals can send changes to their senator. This has to do with using your constituent power straight to the procedure, Indivisibles site states. They likewise have a comprehensive list of checking out product and a script individuals can utilize when speaking to their agents.

Ossoff: doomed from the start?

Thats what a variety of progressives informed the Guardian , after the 30-year-old lost to Republican Karen Handel in Tuesdays unique election.

Jon Ossoff operated on a centrist, Clinton-esque platform that concentrated on rather beige, uncontroversial problems like federal government waste. There was no talk of universal health care and little of well-being problems. He ran in exactly what has actually typically been a Republican fortress, and lost by just 5 points, however Ossoff was generally the reverse of the sort of populist prospect the left thinks is the method forward.

Hes not in favour of single-payer health care, hes not outspoken on project financing reform, stated Moumita Ahmed, creator of Millennials for Revolution . Why would I as a Republican elect somebody who isn’t really a Republican, however still has the very same worths as a Republican?

Ossoff plus balloons. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Winnie Wong, from People for Bernie , stated Ossoffs run the election was the most pricey House race in history, by the method was an enormous failure of Democratic celebration management.

He didnt have a core progressive message which eventually is why he lost. The Democratic celebration might invest $ 100m and he would still lose. Since he didnt mean anything.

however there is wish for a Brand New Congress

Thats the name of a group that picks, trains, supports and promotes progressives who wish to run for Congress.

Brand New Congress (BNC), formed in April 2016, presently has 14 prospects who have actually revealed their 2018 mid-term projects, consisting of a number of who are running versus incumbent Democrats.

We basically offer complete project service, BNCs Corbin Trent informed the Guardian today. Brand name New Congress handles press demand, assists with occasions and tally gain access to, does opposition research study on incumbents, and can even aid with speechwriting.

Brand New Congress has actually arranged a weekend canvassing begin for its prospects (who are from throughout America) on Sunday. Each of the prospects all whom are operating on progressive platforms are holding occasions to enhance their projects.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez , who is running versus incumbent Democrat Joseph Crowley in New Yorks 14th congressional district, arranged for the Bernie Sanders project in 2016.

We have the capability and chance to be enthusiastic in legislation, Ocasio-Cortez informed the Guardian. Since the world is altering in methods weve never ever seen prior to.

What read

  • Were in the middle of an all-hands-on-deck emergency situation, composes Rebecca Solnit , where brand-new groups and unions are emerging together with unanticipated capabilities in many individuals who didnt formerly believe they were activists. Solnit states there are amazing things occurring in this minute, in an uplifting study of the activist land.
  • Progressives need to aim to speak conservative to score success, historian and LGBTQ strategist Nathaniel Frank composes in the LA Times . He states the successes of the LGBTQ motion came when activists learnt how to speak the language of those they most had to get instead of those who currently concurred with them.

Ron Swanson reimagined as Berniecrat progressive

Parks and Recreations Ron Swanson … a spooky doppelganger for a Democratic prospect whos making headings. Photo: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Randy Bryce, called @IronStache on Twitter, sprung to popularity today when he revealed his obstacle to Republican home speaker Paul Ryan. In his favour? An expressive project advert, a leftwing message, and the mustache, jeans and workboots of an all-American.

That manly, blue-collar image triggered one Twitter user to recommend Bryce was genetically crafted from Bruce Springsteen tunes, while numerous individuals compared the Democrat to the Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson. Simply not a libertarian .

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Trump warns GOP: Don’t break your health care promises

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump, in an attempt to sell the GOP Republican health care plan, warned Republicans about breaking all those promises to repeal Obamacare they’ve made over the years.

The White House is currently unsure that Republicans have enough votes to pass the GOP health care bill. And for a president who fashions himself a deal-maker, the law has become a potent test of Trump’s ability to make it happen.
“The American people voted for historic change. They also voted for serious action by delivering the House, the Senate and the White House,” Trump said at a National Republican Campaign Committee dinner Tuesday. “The American people gave us clear instructions. it’s time to get busy, get to work and to get the job done.”
    He added: “That legislative effort begins with Thursday’s crucial vote and it really is a crucial vote for the Republican party and for the people of the country to finally repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare.”
    On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
    “I’m asking for your vote so we can repeal and replace Obamacare and save health care for every family in Iowa and for every family in our great country — so important,” Trump said days before Election Day in Iowa.
    And so did House Republicans, who lambasted Obama during his presidency for the health care law and voted over 50 times since 2010 to repeal it.
    Trump’s margin in the House will likely be razor thin, whether the bill fails or passes. Nineteen Republicans have told CNN they will flat-out vote against the bill, and seven say they are leaning toward voting “no.” Republican leadership and Trump can only lose 21 Republicans and still win passage.
    Trump, after spending weeks largely hands off on the health care bill, has begun to get into the day-to-day sales pitch of the bill.
    The president went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday morning to urge Republicans to back the bill. During the meeting, according to sources inside the room, Trump warned that Republicans could lose their reelection campaigns if they didn’t vote for the bill.
    “I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don’t get this done,” Trump said, according to a source.
    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer backed those comments on Tuesday, telling reporters that Republicans who voted against the health care bill “will probably pay a price at home.” Spicer also didn’t rule out Trump campaigning against those Republicans.
    “I think they will probably pay a price at home,” Spicer said. “This was a major component in the last election and I think there was not a single Republican member who went out and talked about this.”
    Trump called Obamacare a “nightmare” on at the Republican dinner Tuesday night, adding that the Republican bill is merely delivering on promises.
    “These are the conservative solutions we campaigned on and these are the conservative solutions the American people asked us as a group to deliver,” Trump said. “We are keeping our promises.”

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