Al Franken accused of kissing, groping LA TV host without consent – Trending Stuff

A California TV host and sports radio broadcaster on Thursday accused Democratic Sen. Al Franken of kissing and groping her without her consent in 2006, prompting condemnation and calls for an ethics probe from his colleagues. 

Leeann Tweeden posted a blog detailing the alleged incident and also tweeted a picture of what seems to be a grinning Franken standing over her as she sleeps, pretending to grab her breasts. 

Franken said he doesn’t remember the kissing incident but apologized for posing for the picture. He said he intended it to be funny — but it wasn’t.

“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” Franken said in an initial statement. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.” 

Tweeden says she was disgusted to learn she was groped as she slept  (Reuters)

Franken later issued a detailed statement saying there’s “no excuse” and he feels “ashamed,” while also offering to cooperate in an ethics investigation into the matter.

“I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed,” Franken said. “… I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse.”

He added, “I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.”  


Franken’s accuser said in an afternoon press conference that she would accept his apology and stopped short of calling on him to resign from his post. However, Tweeden hinted that there may be more accusers.

Soon thereafter, former Bay Area reporter Melanie Morgan tweeted she had a similar experience with Franken — she later shared her account online. Morgan claimed Franken kept calling her and “badgering” her after a dispute they had about budget numbers on a TV show. But unlike Tweeden’s, Morgan’s accusations did not seem to be about sexual misconduct. 

The radio host came forward in a shocking open letter on blog  (Reuters)

Tweeden said the abuse she experienced took place during a USO Tour in Afghanistan.

Franken, a former writer for “Saturday Night Live,” wrote a sketch for the tour in which his character kisses hers on stage. He was an Air America radio host at the time of the incident. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008.

Tweeden said Franken repeatedly pressured her to practice the kiss backstage and at one point forcibly kissed her.

“I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time,” she wrote. “I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.”

Tweeden said she felt “disgusted and violated” – and that the abuse didn’t stop there.

A photographer, who was with them on their C-17 cargo plane ride back home, snapped a picture of what looks to be a sleeping Tweeden, still wearing her flak vest and Kevlar helmet, and a grinning Franken appearing to grab her breasts.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she wrote. “He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep. I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?”

Tweeden said she thinks Franken asked someone to take the photo “knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed.”

The accusations against Franken come on the heels of an avalanche of allegations out of Capitol Hill on sexual harassment and gender hostility. Multiple incidents out of D.C. and other state houses have shed light on the difficulties victims face when trying to report their accusers. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Ethics Committee should review the Franken matter, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer echoed the call. 

“Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “I hope and expect that the Ethics Committee will fully investigate this troubling incident as they should with any credible allegation of sexual harassment.”

About 1,500 former Capitol Hill aides have signed an open letter to House and Senate leaders demanding that Congress put in place mandatory harassment training. They’re also calling to revamp the Office of Compliance, a small office that deals with these complaints and that few knew even existed.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report. 

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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

Clinton Foundation to keep Harvey Weinstein’s $250,000 donation – Trending Stuff

The Clinton Foundation will not return as much as $250,000 in donations from disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein following the accusations of sexual harassment and rape.

The foundation said Sunday that donations, ranging from $100,000 to $250,000, have already been spent on projects, The Daily Mail reported.

The move to keep the money was expected following tweets from the foundation’s spokesman Craig Minassian.

“Suggesting @ClintonFdn return funds from our 330,000+ donors ignores the fact that donations have been used to help people across the world,” Minassian wrote on Twitter.

The calls to return Weinstein’s money were prompted after multiple actresses have come forward and accused the Hollywood executive of sexual assault and rape, forcing numerous politicians and organization to grapple with the dilemma.

Dozens Democratic Party politicians – including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Cory Booker – have pledged to donate their Weinstein’s contributions to charities focused on women’s rights.

Hillary Clinton echoed her former colleagues, saying she was “shocked and appalled” after the sexual harassment allegations were revealed about Weinstein, who hosted fundraisers for her in the past and donated more than $46,000 to her recent presidential campaign and other election efforts.

“What other people are saying, what my former colleagues are saying, is they’re going to donate it to charity, and of course I will do that,” she said on CNN. “I give 10% of my income to charity every year, this will be part of that. There’s no – there’s no doubt about it.”

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.

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Delta Will Promote Pilots to Captainif They Can Fly This Aging Plane – Trending Stuff

Since the beginning of the commercial airline business, junior pilots have had to toil at the second seat waiting to win a pair of captain’s wings. Now Delta Air Lines Inc.. Is offering them the opportunity to vault into a captain’s seat in as little as six months. The catch? The marketing requires flying an unloved, aging plane nicknamed the “Mad Dog” that Delta intends to retire in three years.

The McDonnell Douglas Corp.. MD-88 jets are the oldest aircraft in operation in any major U.S. carrier. They come with quirks such as glare-prone skylight panels known as “eyebrow windows” that were common when pilots occasionally navigated by the stars. And they’re so noisy that some New York politicians, such as U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, cheered when Delta recently pulled the planes from New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

The jets are currently helping to topple traditional timetables as Delta claims with a pool of aviators and awaits deliveries of new aircraft. Senior pilots shun the MD-88s for newer Airbus SE or Boeing Co.. Jets, now the business’s standard equipment. But some who covet the prestige and salaries awarded #x 2019 aren &; t so choosy to captains.

“The fantastic side of M-88 is that there is HATE for it that seniority happens in manner,” read one article on a Delta pilot discussion. “In 1 year you’ll have the ability to hold off weekends and holidays. ”

Unionized pilots typically progress from the right-hand first officer’s seat to #x 2019 & the left wing captain;s perch, and from small to large jetliners. Moving to captain was an 8- or 10-year process and has dropped to two or three years in boom times, says Kit Darby, a pilot consultant based in an Atlanta suburb. Veterans having the most seniority get first pick such as flying the Boeing 747 jumbo on routes to Asia. Junior pilots might claim a captain’s seat on the 110-seat Boeing 717, or a officer’s function on a plane.

But some Delta pilots who are willing to accept the worst assignments—flying an MD-88 or sharing a crash pad in Queens and flying from New York—are upgrading fast. One pilot hired in January was a captain by June, according to a company memo to pilots. Moving up over six months is &#x201C of,” states Delta spokesman Michael Thomas, and less-tenured pilots flying the MD-88 aren’t any less qualified than those in the controls of larger jets. “We hire folks who possess the qualifications and airmanship and capability to become captains with Delta,” Thomas says.

However, that’s the quickest career development for pilots one of the Big Three U.S. carriers, according to pilots and business advisers. Some American Airlines Group Inc.. Pilots have advanced in less than two years on the 99-seat Embraer E190 regional jet, American spokesman Joshua Freed says. United Continental Holdings Inc.. Does not have any similar cases of such rapid promotions, according to a United spokeswoman.

“Almost every pilot I talk to, when I tell them people are upgrading to captain within a year, they all go, ‘Wow, you’re! ’ ” states Louis Smith, president of the company Future & Active Pilot Advisors. “It’s nearly unheard of in the enterprise. ”

Upgrading can mean a big bump in pay. A first officer in a significant airline makes about $86 an hour with a raise in Year Two, while a captain makes about $220 an hour, Smith says. Pilots state about $180,000 is average pay for first-year captains after they’ve completed instruction.

Carriers may wind up with fast-track options that are comparable if the shortage of airline pilots gets worse, as anticipated. About half the pilots in 10 large U.S. airlines will hit the retirement age of 65 by 2026, Darby says. The issue is more acute at carriers, which are lobbying to relax a requirement that commercial pilots have at least 1,500 hours of flight time.

A Delta MD-88 aircraft at Philadelphia International Airport.

Photographer: Mike Mergen/Bloomberg

Lifestyle and pay packages that benefit co-pilots on aircraft are making it harder for Delta to staff the MD-88. A first officer with 10 years’ experience on the Boeing 747 makes about $221,000 a year, roughly the same as a first-year captain on the Boeing 717, according to Delta pay tables viewed by Bloomberg. And Delta’s Thomas states that the MD-88, the Boeing 717, along with other short-haul planes require pilots to fly more legs and some aviators don’t need that kind of schedule.

“International widebody pilots hold the best schedules and work the fewest days due to the character” states Sam Mayer, a longtime American Airlines pilot. “A lot of men are finding out that they & #x 2019 stay at #x 201D & first officer; on the aircraft that is larger than move up to captain of a smaller jet with a desirable program.

The MD-88, a workhorse on shorter flights since 1988, has controls and checklists that feel counterintuitive and antiquated before they could switch aircraft types. Then #x 2019 & there;s a cockpit called a “cage” by Dennis Tajer, who flew a sister McDonnell aircraft nicknamed the Super 80 for a decade in American before ascending to the Boeing 737. The McDonnell flight deck is &#xnarrow, 201C little, and unforgiving for #x 201D, & any pilot that would like to spread their wings; states Tajer, a spokesman for American’s pilot union.

Nonetheless, the MD-88 has its own fans. Delta has redone the interiors of even its older jets, therefore passengers probably can’t tell it’s so outdated, says Rene de Lambert, who pens a Delta frequent-flier blog called Rene’s Points. Also, the plane’s configuration, with two seats on one side of the aisle and three to the other, means the MD-88 has dreaded middle seats than many planes, he says.

“Yeah, if you & #x 2019; #x 2019 & re at the trunk it; s noisy, but most people will be sad to see it go,” de Lambert says. “It will be missed. Naturally, it’s not flying over my home. ”

The MD-88 is almost certainly headed for aviation&#x2019. There are only two other operators beyond Delta: Allegiant Air, which is also retiring its fleet, and an obscure Iranian carrier, Taban Air, according to “Delta has remodeled all of their MD-88s, but it’s like an old car that’s been spruced up,” Tajer states. “It’s not like sitting down in a brand new Cadillac. ” —

BOTTOM LINE – Airline pilots have typically waited up to a decade to move from a first officer’s place to a captain’s seat. But the timetable is currently accelerating.

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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

Obamacare Repeal Collapses as Senate GOP Blocks Health Bill – Trending Stuff

A attempt by Senate Republicans to pass health-care legislation fell early Friday after GOP Senator John McCain joined two of his colleagues to obstruct a Obamacare repeal bill.

“I regret that our efforts were simply not enough, #x 201D, & this time; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor after the vote. “This is a moment. ”

“It’s time to proceed, & #x 201D; after pulling the bill from the 28, he added.

The conclusion by McCain to vote no came from cancer therapy after weeks of brinkmanship and after his return to throw the 50th vote to begin debate earlier this week. The GOP’s “skinny” repeal bill was defeated 49-51, falling short. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also voted against it.

It wasn’t what the next steps would be for the Republicans. The repeal effort had seemed to fall several times only to be revived.  And several Republicans pleaded for their colleagues not to give up, even as President Donald Trump blasted the vote.

‘Let ObamaCare Implode’

“3 Republicans and 48 Democrats allow the American people down, As I said from the start, allow ObamaCare implode, then cope. Watch! ” he composed on Twitter at 2:25 am Washington time.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said in a statement Friday he is “disappointed and frustrated” that the Senate couldn’t reach an agreement, but he urged the Senate to keep striving. “We should not give up,” he said.

Collins said in a statement the Senate should work on a strategy “in a very careful way. That means going through the process of committee hearings; receiving input from expert witnesses” and working with lawmakers in both parties. The House and Senate proposals were crafted with no public hearings or input from Democrats.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows insisted, however, that he had no intention of working with Democrats, saying the GOP-only route remains the only option. “In the end, we will prevail,” the North Carolina Republican said.

McConnell has struggled to find a compromise that satisfies conservatives, who have demanded a wholesale repeal of Obamacare, and moderates, who were unnerved by predictions the bill would boost the ranks of Americans.

Mitch McConnell on July 27.

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

Democrats immediately called for a debate on how best to fix Obamacare.

“We aren’t currently celebrating. We’re” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said after the vote. “Let’s turn the page and work together to improve our health care system. ” He also said Democrats would be willing to help expedite bipartisan laws and to progress Trump administration nominations.

Republicans have been under pressure to deliver on their repeal promises. But pleas — and threats — from the White House and conservative classes weren’t sufficient to push through the bill.

“I sadly feel a great many Americans will feel betrayed, that they were lied to, and that sentiment will not be unjustified. You cannot campaign against Obamacare and then vote for Obamacare,” Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said early Friday.

Loud Gasps

At a dramatic vote in the early morning hours on Friday, Collins voted no first, then Murkowski, followed by McCain, who came to the well of the Senate and gave a thumbs down, dooming the repeal bill to loud gasps, mostly from the Democratic side of the aisle. Republican leaders stood together looking grim as their back-up repeal plan seemed to collapse.

Of the three, Collins had been opposed to every GOP proposal on the table. Murkowski had also been critical of them, even after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called her and fellow Alaska Republican Senator Dan Sullivan and threatened them with retribution on major energy and public-lands decisions if they voted against repeal.

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

McCain was a surprise. He has long called for repeal, but grew frustrated over the secretive process that GOP leaders employed to draft various lobbying steps. When he returned he made an impassioned speech on the Senate floor making it clear he was ready to vote against the legislation if it didn’t satisfy his concerns.

“We must now go back to the appropriate way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of country’s governors, and generate a bill that eventually delivers affordable healthcare for the American people,” McCain said in a statement after the vote. “We deserve and have to do. ”

Promises from Ryan

On Thursday evening, several Republicans were creating the argument that they would vote to advance the measure if they got guarantees it wouldn’t pass the House. House Speaker Paul Ryan assured senators that his chamber would begin a seminar negotiation if the Senate passed the bill.

McConnell released the long-awaited text of his skinny repeal bill late Thursday, only a couple of hours prior to the vote that was pivotal. It would end the requirement that individuals buy health insurance, and suspend through 2026 the requirement that it is provided by companies for their employees.

It would extend a moratorium on the tax on medical-device makers and increase the amount that individuals can contribute to accounts. The measure would defund Planned Parenthood for a single year.

The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that the bill could cause an extra 15 million Americans without health insurance. It also said the measure would reduce the national deficit by $178.8 billion over a decade.

The defeat of this “skinny” repeal bill came after different measures put forward by GOP leaders were also blocked.  

The Senate rejected a fuller repeal of Obamacare 45-55 Wednesday. Seven Republicans voted against it, including Senate Health Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and McCain. Late Tuesday, a 43-57 Senate vote swept aside a revised version of McConnell’s Obamacare replacement, a measure negotiated during weeks of tense GOP talks.

Republicans had said Thursday their strategy was to get the “skinny” bill through the Senate and negotiate with the House on a agreement to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“Passing this legislation will enable us to work together with our colleagues in the House toward a last bill that may go to the president, repeal Obamacare, and undo its damage,” McConnell said Thursday night on the Senate floor. “I urge everyone to support it. ”

By Friday morning, McConnell admitted defeat, saying his & #x 201C; #x 201D & only regret; is that they failed.

Toomey ‘Disappointed’

Several Senate Republicans said they hoped #x 2019 & this wasn;t the end of the debate.

“I am disappointed to fix our broken healthcare system,” Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said in a statement. “Congress must not give up on repealing and replacing the failed health care law. ”

A crestfallen Bill Cassidy said he expects Democrats are now interested in working on a deal, like the one he developed with Collins.

“I’ve attempted previously, as has Susan, to have a dialogue. It hasn’t. Maybe this had to happen to begin to have a dialogue,” the Louisiana Republican said.

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What’s on the agenda for Tuesday in Washington

Washington (CNN)The very first Tuesday of the brand-new administration is set to have lots of verification hearings on Capitol Hill.

Here’s exactly what’s going on in Washington on Tuesday:

Energy committee vote on interior and energy secretaries delayed

      Previously, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources was arranged to fulfill at 9:30 a.m. to vote on the elections of Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke for interior secretary and previous Texas Gov. Rick Perry for energy secretary.
      But the committee provided a declaration late Monday holding off the votes “till more notification.”

      At his hearing recently, Zinke stated environment modification is not a “scam” which “male has actually had an impact,” a declaration that might assist calm Democrats who are worried about Trump’s declaration from December when he stated “no one truly understands” if environment modification is genuine.
      During his hearing recently, Perry stated he is sorry for formerly stating he would eliminate the Energy Department, which he is chosen to lead. Democratic assistants on the committee have actually stated that they are not worried about Perry’s absence of clinical experience, keeping in mind that the function of energy secretary has actually not constantly gone to a researcher.

      Finance committee hearing for health and human services secretary

      Georgia Rep. Tom Price has currently had his verification hearing with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Now, he affirms prior to the Senate Finance Committee at 10 a.m. The congressman and orthopedic cosmetic surgeon has actually been a considerable critic of the Affordable Care Act , and has actually worked to take apart the law in the past. Cost is now likewise under examination after CNN reported on a doubtful stock purchase.

      Judiciary committee vote on attorney general of the United States

      Also at 10 a.m. on Capitol Hill, the Senate Judiciary Committee will fulfill to vote on whether to validate Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be attorney general of the United States. Sessions sat prior to the committee last Tuesday where he drew a variety of Democratic challengers due to his record. However, Republicans hold a bulk in the Senate and the election is anticipated to pass.

      Commerce Committee vote on commerce and transport secretaries

      Another 10 a.m. conference will be for the Senate Commerce Committee to vote on the elections of Elaine Chao for transport secretary and Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary.
      Both had their hearings prior to the committee recently and while both are anticipated to pass , some are worried about Ross’s organisation interests.

      Budget Committee hearing for OMB head

      South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney is set to affirm prior to the Senate Budget Committee at 10:30 a.m. after being chosen by President Donald Trump to head the Office of Management and Budget. Recently, it was exposed that Mulvaney did not pay more than $15,000 in payroll taxes for a home staff member.
      Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stated this was “disqualifying” for Mulvaney to function as the White House spending plan director.
      A source from Trump’s shift group informed CNN that Mulvaney, who at the time was the daddy of newborn triplets, employed a “caretaker” and didn’t recognize he had to pay taxes on her earnings. The assistant decreased to state where the worker was from.

      Small Business and Entrepreneurship committee hearing

      Also at 10:30 a.m., the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will satisfy for their hearing on Linda McMahon, who Trump chose to lead the Small Business Administration.
      McMahon, the previous CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, provided millions to Trump to support his governmental project, consisting of a $1 million contribution right before the election.

      Foreign Relations committee vote on UN Ambassador

      At midday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on the election of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Trump’s option for UN ambassador.
      During her verification hearing recently , Committee Chair Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker stated that Haley is anticipated to be validated “extremely.” The committee questioned Haley about her absence of handling foreign affairs, however commented her time as guv of South Carolina has actually made her all set for this position.

      Closed Senate Intelligence committee hearing

      A closed-door Senate Intelligence Committee hearing will occur at 2:30 p.m.

      House vote on taxpayer-funded abortions

      On Tuesday, your house will vote on H.R. costs “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017.”
      The costs would prohibit federal financing of abortions , also federal financing for health advantages prepares that cover abortions. It would likewise prohibit federal centers and federal workers from supplying abortions.

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    CNN/ORC Poll shows last-minute love for Obamacare

    Washington (CNN)Americans views of Obamacare tilt directly favorable, inning accordance with a brand-new CNN/ORC survey , marking the very first time more have actually preferred than opposed the law given that its passage in 2010. The shift comes at the exact same time more than 8-in-10 state the law is most likely to be rescinded and changed by inbound president Donald Trump.

    Overall, 49% state they prefer the 2010 healthcare law, more officially called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while 47% oppose it. A primarily combined evaluation in general, that’s a sharp enhancement compared with previous ballot on the law.
        More have actually opposed than preferred the law in every CNN/ORC survey on this concern from March 2010 previously. The shift in the law’s favor stems mainly from Democrats and independents, while views amongst Republicans have not moved much.
        Still, couple of feel the ACA has actually done much to assist them personally. Simply 22% state they or their households are much better off given that the law’s arrangements have actually entered into result, and more, 30%, state that they are even worse off now. About 3-in-10 state that the law hasn’t really assisted anybody in the United States, consisting of 58% of Republicans who feel that method.

        The law unquestionably helped in reducing the share of uninsured Americans, with the uninsured rate reaching historical lows following the execution of some parts of the law, however Americans by and big do not see it as effective.
        Almost 4-in-10 (37%) state they think about the law a failure, surpassing the 23% who state they see the law as a success. That’s an uptick considering that 2015, however almost all of the boost in understandings of the law as a success comes amongst Democrats, 46% of whom state so now, up from 19% in 2015.
        The inbound Trump administration and the Republican Congress that will accompany it have actually called rescinding Obamacare a leading concern, and healthcare normally has actually increased in concern in the eyes of Americans. In the brand-new survey, 14% pointed out healthcare as the most crucial problem dealing with the nation, up greatly from the 3% who mentioned it last fall in a comparable concern about the most crucial problem in the governmental project.

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      Tariffs: Donald Trump’s trust in trade war tactic is big electoral gamble

      Tariffs: Donald Trumps trust in trade war tactic is big electoral gamble

      Following his instincts, the president has slapped tariffs on $200bn of Chinese imports but the consequences are unpredictable

      Donald Trumps obsession with tariffs may be based on one of his few core beliefs. Or it may be part of a grand strategy to win votes. Either way, triggering a trade war between the worlds two biggest economies represents a huge gamble ahead of next years US presidential election.

      The US has raised tariffs on $200bn in imports from China to 25% from 10%, with another round in the offing. Beijing vowed to retaliate but Trump, ever the salesman, claimed on Twitter that the new tariffs will bring FAR MORE wealth to America.

      Trump is notoriously a non-ideological pragmatist who has switched parties and positions on countless issues, but for four decades he has taken a tough line on trade. Dan DiMicco, the former chief executive of the steel company Nucor, told the Washington Post in 2018: People think he just came to this issue last year, but he came to it on his own, decades ago, seeing what was going on in the 70s and 80s with job losses and manufacturing in decline.

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      Defying Republican party free market orthodoxy, Trump talked about trade relentlessly during the 2016 election campaign and it worked with enough people to help win the electoral college. He therefore sees no reason not to pursue the same course while in office and in the 2020 election.

      Indeed, Trump and allies insist that the current trade policy has helped generate positive economic growth 3.2% in the first quarter though most experts contend that tariffs reduce economic activity by raising prices for consumers.

      Politically, however, Trump senses an opportunity to divide his opponents and put Democrats in an awkward spot. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader in the Senate, has repeatedly praised him for taking a harder line on China than either Barack Obama or George W Bush.

      But other Democrats, Trump believes, are vulnerable to the accusation of weak on China while he plays strongman putting America first. Former vice-president Joe Biden, currently leading the primary polls, raised eyebrows last week by downplaying the threat of Beijing.

      At a rally this week in Panama City, Florida, Trump cast doubt on whether another contender, the South Bend mayor, Pete Buttigieg, 37, is up to the job. We have a young man, Buttigieg Hes got a great chance, doesnt he? Hell be great, representing us against President Xi of China thatll be great. I want to be in that room. I want to watch that one.

      But there are clear political perils. One of Trumps favourite applause lines at rallies is the health of the stock market and the stalled talks threaten that run. Studies also show consumers and companies are already paying billions more in higher taxes and lost efficiency.

      And farmers are especially vulnerable from lost sales to China, an issue on which the president seems to be in denial. He tweeted on Friday: Your all time favorite President got tired of waiting for China to help out and start buying from our FARMERS, the greatest anywhere in the World!

      In fact China is the fourth biggest export market for US agriculture. It bought $9.3bn in American agricultural products last year, according to the US agriculture department. Losing farmers votes could prove costly to Trump at the ballot box. And if his tariffs tunnel vision brings about an economic slowdown or worse, his central argument for re-election will be lost.


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      Kirsten Gillibrand enters 2020 presidential race

      Kirsten Gillibrand enters 2020 presidential race

      Washington (CNN)Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand entered the 2020 presidential race on Tuesday, telling Stephen Colbert that she was forming an exploratory committee just days before she heads to the critical state of Iowa.

      Shortly after taping the show, Gillibrand officially filed with the Federal Election Commission and released her first campaign video, which highlighted her work on the 9/11 health bill, women’s rights and fighting President Donald Trump.
      “I am not afraid of him,” Gillibrand said of the President.
        The video opens by showing someone Googling the name “Kristen” — not “Kirsten” — a mistake often made regarding the New York senator.
        Gillibrand, who was elected for her second full term in the Senate in 2018, rose to national prominence in recent years as a forceful proponent of the #MeToo movement and fierce critic of Trump. People close to Gillibrand have indicated the senator will run a campaign centered on gender issues, something she has championed in the House and Senate.
        In her interview with Colbert, Gillibrand added, “You are never going to accomplish any of these things if you don’t take on the systems of power that make all of that impossible, which is taking on institutional racism, it is taking on the corruption and greed in Washington, taking on the special interests that write legislation in the dead of night. And I know that I have the compassion, the courage and the fearless determination to get that done.”
        CNN reported earlier on Tuesday that Gillibrand intended to make her announcement to Colbert and had informed key supporters of her plans.
        Although Gillibrand is forming an exploratory committee — something politicians often do to get more information on whether to run — Gillibrand told Colbert that there was no chance she wouldn’t run.
        “It’s an important first step and it’s one that I’m taking because I’m going to run,” she said.
        While it is certain that Gillibrand’s focus on Trump will continue during her campaign, the New York Democrat will have to get through a sizable field of Democrats considering a run for President, including a handful of her colleagues in the Senate. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts announced an exploratory committee last month and has traveled to Iowa and New Hampshire, while California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and others are publicly considering a bid.
        Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Richard Ojeda, a failed West Virginia congressional candidate, have all announced bids for the Democratic nomination.
        A spokesperson for Gillibrand declined to comment on her plans.
        Ahead of her trip to Iowa this weekend, Gillibrand has been calling top Iowa Democrats to pick up advice and discuss her upcoming trip, multiple sources in the state tell CNN.
        Among them is Troy Price, the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.
        Price told CNN that he urged the New York Democrat to begin “laying the ground work” in the state and “show that she is ready to get to know people here.”
        “Voters are ready to get to know her,” Price told CNN of Gillibrand. “So, I think it’s important for anyone who comes through to start thinking about those relationships because a caucus process is one where people want to get to know you” before they support you.
        Gillibrand has already stacked her campaign with a number of top hires who were speaking with other contenders.
        Jess Fassler, Gillibrand’s chief of staff, will work as the senator’s campaign manager. Fassler has been with Gillibrand since she was a House member representing upstate New York.
        Dan McNally, formerly the political director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, will work as Gillibrand’s campaign director. McNally, a longtime Democratic operative who managed Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet’s 2016 campaign, has worked at both the DSCC and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
        Meredith Kelly, the former communications director for the DCCC, will be the senator’s communications director. And Emmy Bengtson, digital director to Gavin Newsom’s successful California gubernatorial campaign last year and deputy social media director for Hillary Clinton in 2016, will work as Gillibrand’s deputy communications director.
        Gillibrand, formerly a moderate Democrat in the House of Representatives, has shifted to more liberal positions since being appointed to Clinton’s Senate seat in 2009.
        She is a vocal critic of Trump and has sparred with him on Twitter, the President’s favorite social media platform.
        After Gillibrand called for Trump’s resignation after multiple women renewed their sexual misconduct allegations against him, Trump slammed the senator with language that Gillibrand called a “sexist smear.”
        “Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump,” Trump tweeted in December 2017.
        Gillibrand responded by calling the tweet a “a sexist smear intended to silence me.”
        Gillibrand enters the 2020 field with $10.5 million in the bank, a sizable war chest that would make her one of the most financially formidable candidates.
        While her most recent Senate run helped replenish her campaign coffers, it also provided opponents with a potential attack and a question Gillibrand has to answer: She promised voters in 2018 to serve her full term.
        “I will serve my six-year term,” she said during a Senate debate when asked about her 2020 plans.
        In 2017, Gillibrand ran afoul of some powerful Democratic donors after leading calls urging Minnesota Democrat Al Franken to resign from the Senate. Franken quit following allegations — one of which included photographic evidence — that he touched women inappropriately.
        Some donors believed Franken, a popular lawmaker, was pushed out of office too quickly and could have weathered the controversy.
        Addressing the criticism, Gillibrand told CNN’s Van Jones in December: “Sometimes you just have to do what’s right, even if it’s painful … if I can’t protect the women in my workspace, if I can’t — not only stand up for women who feel abused, or feel harassed in our workplace — then I’m not doing my job, and so I just got to a point where enough was enough.”
        Around the same time that she came out against Franken, Gillibrand also said that in hindsight, former President Bill Clinton should have resigned because of his affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
          “Things have changed today, and I think under those circumstances there should be a very different reaction,” Gillibrand said in an interview with The New York Times. Asked if he should have resigned, she added, “Yes, I think that is the appropriate response.”
          Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens told CNN in a statement, “If you looked up ‘political opportunism’ in the dictionary, Kirsten Gillibrand’s photo would be next to it. From jumping on the ‘abolish ICE’ bandwagon to turning on the Clintons, Gillibrand always goes where the political wind blows. Democrats know it, which is why she’s barely registering in the polls.”

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