Sorry We Doubted You, and Godspeed, John McCain…
Early this morning, John McCain did the right thing: casting the deciding “no” vote on the last of three health care proposals Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought to the floor in as many days. Here’s a clip of McCain’s historic “thumbs-down”:
The other Republicans voting “no”: Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins, making the final vote 49-51, with all Democrats voting against.
What failed to pass this morning was the so-called “Skinny Bill”. Just 8 pages long. Released by McConnell only hours before the vote, it most notably would’ve ended requirements that individuals and employers buy insurance, or pay a penalty. Problem is, that would’ve meant no one would have to buy health insurance until they got sick, so premiums would’ve skyrocketed.
Several Senators, including McCain, tried to cut an unusual deal with House Speaker Paul Ryan, where they’d consider passing the bill only if he promised it would not become law. They called it a “forcing mechanism” to get the House and Senate to sync up and talk further.
It’s always a huge risk and hugely difficult not to find (or be given) a reason to fall into line behind your party. Take Lindsey Graham for instance, who called the “Skinny Bill” a “fraud” but then navigated a path for himself to vote for it anyway.
• McCain returned to the Senate this week after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. This may represent his legacy.
• Murkowski seemed to be the most actively threatened of the bunch. The target of an angry Tweet from Trump (and also a phone call), The Alaska Dispatch News reports she also was contacted by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has a lot of influence over projects Murkowski is trying to promote: like oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But c’mon, do you really believe her “no” vote is going to suddenly turn Trump and Republicans into environmentalists? Right. Probably neither does she.
• And Collins is from Maine. We don’t mean this in a belittling way. Does seem that a lot of the most compelling (and some of the most infuriating) characters in America’s political landscape hail from that state these days.
Trump Says This Was Sort Of His Plan All Along Anyway
Shortly after Mitch McConnell adjourned the Senate until Monday, tail between his legs, Trump jumped on Twitter:
Of course, there’s a simple alternative to Trump’s nightmare scenario: invite Democrats in and come up with a bipartisan bill. But Trump seems only to be satisfied with a vision of Democrats crawling back to him, begging.
What may be the most important thing to keep an eye on immediately is whether the White House intensifies its efforts to sabotage Obamacare, as Trump has repeatedly said he will and already is, as this New York Times article points out. The biggest blow would be cutting off cost-sharing payments to insurance companies. The Trump administration has been playing a continuous game of chicken on this for months.
Will President Have “Pen In Hand” For Russia Sanctions Bill?
One bill that will make it to the President’s desk before summer recess, puts stronger sanctions on Russia (and also Iran and North Korea). Perhaps more importantly, it also limits the President’s ability to remove them.
A lot of bluster on this coming from the White House suggesting Trump may veto it. Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci arguing improbably, that the deal may not be tough enough.
We think wondering whether Trump will sign or not is just wasted effort. He won’t risk a second embarrassment in the form of a veto override. It takes 67 votes to override a Presidential veto in the Senate. The bill passed 98-2 (419-3 in the house.) Our prediction: he’ll sign, and then call it a “win” for himself.
Trump’s Newly-Minted Communications Director Takes A Dump On Senior White House Staff
In an on-the-record conversation with the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, Anthony Scaramucci calls Chief of Staff Reince Preibus a “paranoid schizophrenic” and accuses Chief Strategist Steve Bannon of “trying to suck [his] own cock.” All this triggered by Lizza’s single Tweet that Trump would be having dinner that night with Scaramucci, Sean Hannity, and former Fox news co-President Bill Shine. Scaramucci wanted to know who “leaked” that earth-shattering info.
Earlier, Scaramucci appeared to sic the FBI and Justice Department on Preibus after blaming the chief of staff for leaking details to Politico about his personal finances. Politico says all the info it used was public record.
So why shouldn’t we just view this as a bunch of noise and move past it?
• Because it says so much about Trump’s White House, and the atmosphere of incivility and paranoia from all sides within. And that it’s encouraged by the President. (He’s been mum about all of this so far on Twitter and in his numerous personal appearances this week.)
• Because Scaramucci is Trump’s hand-picked guy for a very crucial job. Only the job description has changed dramatically. Communications Director is supposed to be about how the White House communicates with the media, and by extension, the public. Trump doesn’t need that: he’s got Twitter. So instead he went out and got himself a dog-catcher, except instead of dogs, Scaramucci’s out after leaks.
• Because if Trump’s intent is to disrupt, he’s really done it this time.
In true Trump fashion, Scaramucci did not apologize to anyone he disrespected (which was pretty much the entire White House staff who he threatened to fire en masse if necessary), Tweeting:
And reaching this conclusion: “I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter. It won’t happen again.”
We found this image from Scaramucci’s Twitter page telling:
Trump really shouldn’t let anybody stand over him in a photo. And especially not let anyone put their arm on his back. That’s his move.
The Most Beautifully Constructed Tweet Ever (And It’s Not From Trump)
After 5 days running, guess who wasn’t the target of a single nasty Trump Tweet? Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that’s who. Maybe this brilliantly constructed Tweet from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has something to do with it:
Meaning if Trump chooses to get rid of Sessions, the Senate won’t move on approving a replacement for a very long time. (Something Republicans have proven themselves very good at.) Leaving Trump with a “second man” at the helm at Justice.
(Also, does this mean Trump just lost a Twitter battle?)
The Nation’s Highest-Ranking Military Officer Moves Us With A Simple Pledge
General Joseph Dunford, Jr., responding to President Trump’s sudden ban on transgender people in the military, said “we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect.”
That simple statement really stirred us, because “respect” is absent from much of what we see, read about, and write about these days.
Of course, part of the President’s job description is Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. armed forces, so if he wants transgender people out, he’ll get them out. But General Dunford further said there will be “no modifications” to current policy which allows transgender service people, until he’s received clearer instructions from the White House.
After all, the President’s entire policy so far is just three Tweets. So far at least, Tweets are not Orders.