👋 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/ Hospitals, doctors, and insurers are united in their criticism of the Republican health care bill and are urging significant changes to the legislation. The bill’s impact could potentially cause millions to lose coverage through a combination of deep cuts to Medicaid, scaled back employer-sponsored health care, lifetime limits on coverage, and rising costs for people with pre-existing conditions that could effectively price them out of the market. (New York Times)
- Republicans claimed a major victory on the health care vote even as the measure faces an uncertain fate in the Senate. Under pressure to make good on their promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Republicans pushed the bill through after adopting a last-minute change that earned it just enough votes to pass. However, the House version fell significantly short of the GOP’s long-held goals of an outright repeal. (Washington Post)
2/ The Senate GOP rejects the House Obamacare bill. Senate Republicans say they’ll take the time they need to understand the bill’s ramifications and will insist on getting a score from the Congressional Budget Office before voting, unlike the House. The Senate needs to end up with a bill that can win over 50 of the 52 GOP senators. And even if they accomplish that, the Senate bill could be unpalatable to House conservatives, which squeaked through on a 217-213 vote. (Politico)
- The Senate moves the House Obamacare repeal to the slow lane as recent changes to the measure complicate its path in Senate. (Bloomberg)
3/ Health care looks to be the defining issue in the next election cycles. GOP members of Congress will be asked to defend their votes for a bill that could strip insurance from 24 million Americans and jack up premiums and deductibles for the country’s sickest and oldest citizens in the 2018 midterms. Meanwhile, governors, gubernatorial candidates, and state legislators will be asked whether they intend to “opt out” of provisions in the Affordable Care Act that are overwhelmingly popular with voters. (Washington Post)
4/ Trump praised Australia’s universal health care system hours after the Obamacare repeal, saying America’s new plan is “going to be fantastic health care.” Australia’s universal health care system gives citizens free access to doctors and public hospitals paid for by the government. (CNN)
- Trump Tweets: “Everybody” has better healthcare than US. His latest comments appear to contradict his own spokeswoman, who said that Trump “was simply being complimentary of the prime minister and I don’t think it was much more than that” after saying Australians have better healthcare than we do. (The Hill)
- Trump called his relationship with Australia’a prime minister “fantastic” following a meeting in New York. It was their first encounter since an acrimonious phone call in February where relations were strained due to Trump’s reluctance to honor a deal to accept up to 1,200 refugees from Australian detention camps. (BBC)
- Trump admits to his “testy” phone call with the Australian prime minister, but still calls it “fake news.” (Washington Post)
5/ The US added 211,000 new jobs in April as the unemployment rate hits a 10-year low. The unemployment rate was 4.4%, the lowest in more than 10 years, however labor participation fell slightly to 62.9% – a signal that workers who had been sidelined are not being drawn back into the labor market. Outdated skills and the inability to move to a place where jobs are available may be preventing some people who would like to work from getting back into the labor market. (New York Times)
6/ North Korea accused the US and South Korea of an unsuccessful assassination attempt involving biochemical weapons. The alleged plan resembles the assassination earlier this year of Kim Jong Un’s exiled half brother. That attack, using the chemical war agent VX, was widely blamed on North Korea and led to calls in the United States to relist the North as a state sponsor of terrorism. (Associated Press)
7/ The White House fired its chief usher — the first woman and second African American to hold the position. The chief usher oversees all activities in the White House residence and works as general manager of the building. The job is one that typically involves a long tenure — there have been just nine since the beginning of the 20th century. (Washington Post)
8/ Refugee admissions plummet under Trump’s threats to bar their entry. The US accepted 2,070 refugees in March, the lowest monthly total since 2013, and 3,316 in April, the second-lowest total since 2013. (USA Today)
9/ A New York GOP congressman admits he didn’t read the health care bill and was unaware the bill would nix funding for a health care program in his state. The AHCA would eliminate the Essential Plan option, which provides New York with $3 billion annually for a program that offers benefits for low-income residents who do not qualify for Medicaid. (Talking Points Memo / The Buffalo News)
10/ The Senate asks Trump associates for records of communication with Russians in an effort to accelerate its broad investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election. Roger Stone, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael T. Flynn were all sent requests. (New York Times)
11/ Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget would cut about 95% of funding for the drug control office, effectively ending its mission as the lead agency in charge of combating opioid and drug epidemics. (Politico)
12/ Trump’s pick for Army Secretary has withdrawn his name from consideration after offending both the LGBTQ and Muslim communities with comments and policy positions seen as offensive and discriminatory – including comparing transgender people to ISIS militants. (NBC News)
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