👋 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/ Mitch McConnell delayed the Republican health care vote until after the July 4th recess as they search for the 50 votes needed to start debate on the bill. McConnell told GOP senators that he wants to make changes to the bill, get a new Congressional Budget Office score, and have a vote after the holiday. Meanwhile, Trump has invited all Senate Republicans to the White House to discuss the health care bill.
The senators-only meeting is scheduled for 4PM EST at the White House. (Politico / CNN)
2/ The Senate health care bill is “hanging by a thread” as Republicans struggle to find the votes needed. At least six Republican senators are currently opposed to the bill: Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, Dean Heller, and Susan Collins. Republicans can only lose two votes from their own party and still pass the bill. It’s been Pence’s team – not Trump – that has played the prominent role in trying to whip up votes this week. Stephen Bannon and Reince Priebus have been all but sidelined. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News)
- The CBO estimates that 22 million more people would be uninsured under the Senate bill, leaving Mitch McConnell with less than the 50 votes he’d need for a procedural motion to bring his health care bill to the floor. (Axios)
- The equivalent of 16 states’ populations could lose insurance under the Senate health care bill. 22 million people is equal to the total population of 16 US states. (Washington Post)
3/ McConnell: If Obamacare repeal fails, Republicans will be forced to compromise with Democrats. Failure to repeal the health care law would mean the GOP would lose its opportunity to do a partisan rewrite and have to enter into bipartisan negotiations with Democrats to save the failing insurance markets. Democrats will want to retain as much of Obamacare as possible. (Politico)
- After the CBO score, Republicans can divvy up nearly $200 billion to secure votes for the health care bill. It’s “all about side deals” one Senate aide said. (Politico)
4/ The White House warned Syria that it would “pay a heavy price” if it carried out another chemical attack. The Pentagon said it detected “active preparations” similar to those that occurred before the chemical attack in April. Several military officials were caught off guard by the White House statement. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)
5/ Trump’s lawyer directed millions in nonprofit donations to family members. Since 2000, Jay Sekulow has steered more than $60 million to his family and their businesses after pushing poor and jobless people to donate money – a “sacrificial gift” – to his Christian nonprofit. The nonprofit has raised tens of millions of dollars a year, mostly in small amounts from Christians who receive direct appeals for money from telemarketers. (The Guardian)
6/ At least 10 Trump aides have hired lawyers for the Russia probe, or are planning to do so. Inside the White House, Trump, Pence, and Kushner have hired private attorneys, as have former campaign advisers Michael Caputo, Boris Epshteyn, and Roger Stone, among others. (Wall Street Journal)
- Jared Kushner has hired Abbe Lowell, a leading criminal defense lawyer. Kushner has also kept his current lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, who was a partner at WilmerHale, where Bob Mueller was a partner until becoming the special counsel. (New York Times / Politico)
7/ Congressman making $174k wants a 17% pay raise. Jason Chaffetz wants to give House and Senate lawmakers a $2,500 per month allowance to subsidize lawmakers’ housing costs in D.C., which would cost about $16 million a year for all 535 congressional members. (The Hill)
8/ The Pentagon could cancel enlistment contracts for 1,000 foreign-born recruits, putting them at risk of deportation. The recruits have seen their visas expire while waiting for basic training leaving them without legal immigration status. They were recruited into a program designed to award fast-tracked citizenship in exchange for needed medical and language skills. (Washington Post)
9/ North Korea compared Trump to Hitler, likening Trump’s “America First” policy to “Nazism in the 21st century.” (Wall Street Journal)
10/ Sarah Huckabee Sanders lectured reporters about the “constant barrage of fake news” by the media. She then promoted a video by James O’Keefe, a journalist known for his deceptive video editing and interview tactics, who released an undercover video where a CNN producer called the network’s Russia coverage “mostly bullshit.” She conceded that she did not know “whether it’s accurate or not,” then added that “if it is accurate, I think it’s a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism.” (Washington Post / Politico / HuffPost)
11/ Trump tweeted that CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post are all “fake news” after CNN retracted a story tying a member of Trump’s transition team to the ongoing Russia investigations. (Politico)
13/ Sean Spicer barred TV cameras and live audio broadcasts from Monday’s media briefing. Spicer has allowed question-and-answer sessions with reporters to be televised just six times in the past six weeks. A reporter asked, “Why are the cameras off, Sean?” Spicer’s eventual answer: “Some days we’ll have them, some days we won’t. The President is going to speak today in the Rose Garden. I want the President’s voice to carry the day.” (Washington Post)
14/ The EPA, the Army, and the US Army Corps of Engineers are proposing a new rule to rollback Obama’s Waters of the United States. Scott Pruitt’s EPA has prioritized the economic concerns of industry and agricultural interests over environmental concerns. (Wall Street Journal)
- The EPA chief of staff pressured the top scientist to alter her congressional testimony and play down the dismissal of expert advisers. Deborah Swackhamer, who leads the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors, was told to stick to the agency’s “talking points” on the dismissals of several members of the scientific board. (New York Times)
15/ Rick Perry wants an “intellectual conversation” about the impacts of humans on the climate. While Perry said he believes in climate change, he doesn’t believe carbon dioxide is the main driver of climate change, putting him at odds with climate scientists. (Politico)
poll/ More people worldwide have confidence in Putin than Trump. Just 22% have confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs, down from 64% who had confidence in Obama, and compared to 27% for Putin. Globally, the US favorability rating has decreased from 64% at the end of Obama’s presidency to just 49%. (Pew Research Center)
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