Senator’s Recovery From Surgery Provides Cover As Republicans Delay Health Care Vote
Senator John McCain will stay in Arizona for at least a week to recover from surgery on a blood clot above his eye. That’s according to a statement from the Senator’s office.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying until McCain can return, the Senate “will defer consideration of the Better Care Act.” That reflects, in part, how razor thin the prospects are for passage. As of now, there are two confirmed Republican “no” votes, meaning without McCain, the bill would not pass.
This also apparently means the Congressional Budget Office won’t release its report on the impact of the revised bill today, as scheduled. No word on when that’ll be out now.
And governors of both parties meeting this weekend expressed their concern about the Senate’s health care bill. They heard from Mike Pence who said it’d actually be good for them, because it gives decision-making power back to the states. But many were worried it also puts pressure on states to make up shortfalls as the federal government cuts back on Medicaid.
Since We Have A “Pause” On Health Care, Let’s Break Down Where Everybody Stands
• Rand Paul is out. Why? The Senate’s health care plan does not repeal Obamacare outright. (He’s right. It just makes Obamacare really crappy.)
• Susan Collins is out. Why? She says it’s got nothing to do with Obamacare. Her objection is it rips the heart out of Medicaid, something that’s been around far longer.
Bottom line: if it winds up being just those 2 against, the bill passes. One more against, it doesn’t.
Which should answer the question: why did Ted Cruz and Mike Lee’s ludicrous amendment that nobody really likes (except Ted Cruz and Mike Lee) make it into the revised bill? Because it had to. They both have well-earned reputations for being obstinate jerks. So do the math: the 2 of them + Paul or Collins = the bill would’ve been finished. So it’s in. Even though it’ll allow plans with no preventive care, no minimum coverage, no prescription drug coverage, no maternity coverage, no protection against pre-existing conditions, and yes, they even allow your insurance company to stop covering you if you get really sick. Over the week-end, two huge health insurance lobbying groups issued an unusual statement calling the Cruz amendment “unworkable in any form.”
President Trump meanwhile has made it clear he’ll sign anything. He’s got “pen in hand” he said in a Tweet, just put it in front of him…
So now Mitch McConnell and Mike Pence are running around trying to pick off the remaining “undecided” Republican Senators one-by-one by cutting side deals. That’s why you see Ohio Senator Rob Portman getting the $45-billion in funds for opioid treatment he originally asked for vs. $2-billion. Or why there’s a weird provision in the bill that could only possibly apply to Alaska, giving it access to around a billion dollars in funds. That’s aimed at Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski. For the record, neither has yet said they are now on board.
Democrats did a lot of this same kind of thing in order to get Obamacare passed. There’s nothing wrong with it in and of itself: it’s called politics. And that’s why there’s still a real good shot, even after all these delays, and all this dissatisfaction and all this wrangling , that it’ll pass.
But let’s say it doesn’t; some Republican Senator somewhere (maybe Nevada’s Dean Heller) shows some conscience or a backbone. Then what happens?
One of 3 things:
• Republicans just repeal Obamacare (and say they will replace it “later” which will mean never). We go back to health care the way it used to be. Trump says he’d support this too. Strangely, it might have a better chance of passing than what’s on the table now.
• Republicans do nothing. That leaves it up to the President whether to keep paying cost-sharing subsidies to insurance companies, or stop and allow Obamacare to “explode” (as he loves to say). The end game in that scenario, according to the President, is Democrats come groveling to him, begging for a fix.
• Republicans preempt this by inviting Democrats to the table, and working on a bipartisan bill. Democrats have indicated they would participate (in fact, in distant corners of the Capitol, some are already working with Republicans on alternate plans.) This could result in a really good bill. They wouldn’t need Ted Cruz’ vote anymore, so could do away with his ridiculousness.
It’s also far less likely to happen. Why? Because with this President, and congressional leadership, it’s all about racking up wins and then gloating. There’s nothing more important than making sure losers are painfully crushed. In this vision, there is no room for compromise, even if it’s what’s best for the country.
Fake Assertion From Trump Lawyer Elicits Swift Response From Secret Service
Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow pointed a finger at the Secret Service, saying since they let the Russians through to visit Donald Trump Jr., they couldn’t have really been such baddies. Except, as the Secret Service quickly retorted, the agency wasn’t yet providing Donald Trump Jr. with protection on the date the meeting took place.
And Roll Call reports Donald Trump was in Trump Tower the day of the meeting, something that is meaningless in itself, except that some Trump staffers have been saying he wasn’t.
A Very Strange Development In The Blockade Of Qatar By Its Neighbors
The Washington Post reports U.S. intelligence sources say one of those neighbors, the United Arab Emirates, hacked Qatar’s government websites and attributed pro-Iran, pro-Hamas comments to Qatar’s Emir. Then it turned around and blamed Qatar for the comments. The UAE denies the report.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been actively trying to broker a settlement between the feuding countries, which includes Saudi Arabia.
Here’s The Last Clip In Our Serialization Of The Senator Al Franken/David Letterman Series
Reasons for optimism on climate change. The key: championing the cause state-by-state.
You can watch the whole series all at once on Funny or Die.