4 GOP Senators now on record in opposition to legislation, overturning 52-48 majority
Developments on Day 179 of the Trump Administration:
More GOP Defections Mean Healthcare Bill Near Death
With more confirmed opponents from both the moderate and conservative wings, the GOP healthcare bill is close to death in the Senate.
Two more Republican senators declared on Monday night that they will not support the bill to repeal ObamaCare. That brings the total of on-record GOP opponents to four, enough to overturn the Republicans’ 52-48 majority.
Conservative Mike Lee of Utah and moderate Jerry Moran joined conservative Rand Paul of Kentucky and moderate Susan Collins of Maine with their announcements. Several other senators, on both sides, had indicated that they might not back the bill.
GOP leaders can rewrite the legislation, but will find it difficult to assauge both conservative and moderates. The alternative of working with the Democrats on reform of ObamaCare would have to overcome conservative opposition and would demolish the campaign and post-inauguration rhetoric of Donald Trump.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted Monday night that “the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful”.
McConnell described plans to vote on a measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no replacement, but that has little prospect of passage as it would leave many millions without coverage and cause turmoil in insurance markets.
The Majority Leader had tried to push through the bill without public hearings or a bill-drafting session, but he could not get a vote before the July 4 recess because of the likely opposition. He tried again this month with the suspension of the August recess for two weeks, only to be further stymied with the sudden surgery of GOP Senator John McCain, raising the prospect of further delay and allowing opponents to gather more strength.
Donald Trump remained defiant on Twitter:
Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2017
Trump Sr. Admits Trump Jr. Lied, Says Collusion With Russia Might Be OK
[UPDATE: The 3rd Kremlin-linked person at the Trump Tower meeting has been identified.
Ike Kaveladze is a senior vice president at Crocus Group, the real estate development company run by Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire — and Trump business partner — Aras Agalarov who initiated the meeting.]
In a single tweet, Donald Trump exposes the lies of his son Donald Trump Jr. and says collusion with Russia might be acceptable.
Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That's politics!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2017
The defense of the June 9, 2016 meeting with three Kremlin-linked envoys — lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, and a representative of billionaire Aras Agalarov — demolishes the initial justifications of Trump Jr. over the encounter, which also included Trump Sr.’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Trump Jr. and the White House initially said that the discussion was about “adoptions” rather than the Russian offer of material damaging Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He then said he was surprised by Veselnitskaya’s presentation of the offer, before further revelations forced the White House into the release of Trump Jr.’s e-mail chain with a British intermediary — a series of messages confirming the anti-Clinton dimension.
The White House has said that Trump Sr. was unaware of the meeting until it was first disclosed in The New York Times on July 8. However, the presence of Secret Service in Trump Tower — indicating the candidate was there — and Trump Sr.’s statements that he would soon reveal information damaging Clinton have raised questions over the assertion.
Yet, despite the admissions by both Trump Jr. and Trump Sr., there is good news for both in that less than half of Trump supporters believe the meeting occurred:
Nugget from our national poll coming out tomorrow- only 45% of Trump voters believe Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting with Russians…
— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) July 17, 2017
And White House Press Spokesman Sean Spicer kept up the flight from reality. While acknowledging on Monday that a meeting had taken place, he insisted, “There was nothing, as far as we know, that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption and the Magnitsky Act [imposing sanctions on Russia over human rights abuses].”
GOP Legislators Try to Defund US Agency Ensuring Secure Elections
Amid concerns about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential campaign, Republicans in the House of Representatives are seeking to defund the US Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency that works to ensure the voting process is secure.
The GOP legislators assert that the EAC, which is working with the FBI on the Russia inquiry, is no longer necessary and that the agency’s work duplicates efforts at the Department of Homeland Security and FBI. They also claim it improperly interferes in the right of states to conduct their elections.
The agency helps train local officials on such tasks as recruiting poll workers. During the campaign, it distributed memos to election officials on potential vulnerabilities in voting systems.
Tillerson Shutting State Department War Crimes Office
ecretary of State Rex Tillerson is shutting the State Department office investigating war crimes.
Tillerson’s office recently informed Todd Buchwald, the special coordinator of the Office of Global Criminal Justice, that he is being reassigned to a position in the State Department’s office of legal affairs.
Buchwald, a career State Department lawyer, served as coordinator since December 2015.
He was told that the remaining staff in the office may be reassigned to the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
The draft budget of the Trump Administration cuts the State Department’s funding by more than 30%.
Video: White House’s “Made in America”…Alongside Ivanka’s “Made Overseas”
Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence look at large US_made products such as trucks, and Trump sits in a fire engine for the White House’s “Made in America” Week:
Outside the White House, Pres. Trump and VP Pence tour large American-made products for "Made in America" week. https://t.co/nEjlO4SVGP
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) July 17, 2017
Some of the gloss of the event has been tarnished by a lengthy exposé that all of the merchandise of Trump’s daughter Ivanka are made overseas, in conditions that defy her claim to fight for the rights of working women.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer offered a convoluted defense on Monday:
Think about all of the things that we buy every day. Of course there’s a market because we depend in this country for many goods and services, some of which are made in America some of which aren’t. Obviously we want to create an environment where more things are made here, more things are exported from here, and that’s what the president’s agenda sets out to do.