👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ House Republicans are floundering on the Obamacare repeal as 20 Republicans have now opposed the plan. Paul Ryan can only lose 22 votes and still pass the bill. With the 20 lawmakers against the bill, GOP leaders would have to persuade almost every undecided lawmaker to support the legislation in order to reach the 216-vote threshold needed for passage. Republicans insist they’re close. If only two more members come out as “No” votes, there will be no majority to pass the bill. (Politico / CNN)
- An influential Republican attacked the party’s latest health care bill, saying the measure now “torpedoes” protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions. (New York Times)
2/ Trump: The US “needs a good shutdown” in September to fix the Senate “mess.” He’s frustrated by Senate rules that require a 60 vote supermajority to approve most major legislation. Trump’s solution is to either elect more Republican senators in the 2018 midterms, “or change the rules now to 51%” and scrap the legislative filibuster altogether. Congress is poised to approve a budget to fund the government through September, but it doesn’t include several provisions sought by Trump, including funding for a border wall and language for stripping federal money from so-called sanctuary cities. (The Hill / New York Times / ABC News / CNN)
- McConnell shoots down Trump’s call to end the filibuster. (The Hill)
3/ Hillary Clinton – describing herself as “part of the resistance” – criticized Trump’s conduct in office, his foreign policy, and for posting on Twitter. She also said that Trump “should worry less about the election and my winning the popular vote” than about urgent matters of policy confronting the country. While Clinton said she took “absolute personal responsibility” for her defeat, she said she believed she would have won if not for Russian meddling and Comey’s surprise announcement. (New York Times)
4/ Sally Yates is expected to contradict the administration’s version of events surrounding Michael Flynn. The former acting attorney general is prepared to testify before a Senate panel next week that she gave a forceful warning to the White House that Flynn’s was lying when he denied in public and private that he had discussed US sanctions on Russia in conversations with a Russian Ambassador, which made him potentially vulnerable to being compromised by Russia. (CNN)
5/ The South Korea THAAD missile defense system is now operational. The system is meant to protect South Korea from ballistic missiles fired by North Korea, but China and other critics say the move will only increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula. (NPR)
6/ Trump’s attack on Syria was “in lieu of after-dinner entertainment” for the guests dining at Mar-a-Lago the US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said. Trump interrupted dessert to tell Chinese President Xi about the cruise missile attack. The “entertainment didn’t cost the president anything.” (The Guardian / CNN)
7/ Trump puts antiabortion activist in charge of family planning funding for poor Americans and those without health insurance. About 4 million Americans receive family planning coverage through the Title X program, and the majority of them are low-income and people of color. (Washington Post)
8/ Putin said allegations that Russia had meddled in the US election were based on rumors and that Moscow did not want foreign powers to interfere in Russian politics. He blamed the allegations on the result of domestic US political battles. (Reuters)
- South Korea’s likely next president warned the US not to meddle in its democracy. (Washington Post)
9/ A Republican congressman implied that people with pre-existing health conditions aren’t living their lives “the right way.” After catching himself, Brooks quickly conceded that people with pre-existing conditions may have them “through no fault of their own.” (The Daily Beast)
10/ Pro-Trump farmers now worry he was serious about the NAFTA repeal. Corn, soybean, and dairy farmers are worried that Trump’s rhetoric could directly impact their narrow margins. The same rural communities that animated Trump’s campaign, would feel the brunt of the changes to the trade deal. (CNN)
- Here are the 23 environmental rules Trump has rolled back. Citing federal overreach and burdensome regulations, Trump has prioritized domestic fossil fuel interests and undone measures aimed at protecting the environment and limiting global warming. (New York Times)
11/ Trump keeps praising international strongmen, alarming human rights advocates. He praised the Egyptian president for doing “a fantastic job” on gunning down his opponents, invited Thailand’s prime minister to the White House who jailed dissidents after he took power in a coup, and congratulated Turkey’s president after eroding basic freedoms. (Washington Post)
12/ Jared Kushner didn’t disclose his stake in a company that makes him a business partner with Goldman Sachs, George Soros, and Peter Thiel. Kushner is currently a part-owner of a real-estate finance startup and has a number of loans from banks on properties he co-owns, but didn’t identify these on his government financial disclosure form. (Wall Street Journal)
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