1/ Senate Republicans secured the 51 votes needed to advance their health care bill after Pence cast the tie-breaking vote. The Senate will now begin debating, amending, and ultimately voting in the coming days on the future of Obamacare. The vote was too close to call until the last moments, when several Republican holdouts announced their support, including Rand Paul, Dean Heller, Rob Portman, and Shelley Moore Capito. Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski both voted against the motion to proceed. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)
2/ The Senate will now have 20 hours of debate the health care bill, evenly split between the two sides. Senators can bring up and debate an unlimited number of amendments to the bill as long as they are “germane” to the bill and would not add to the budget deficit.
Then a period known as vote-a-rama happens, where Senators votes on the amendments. The first amendment will be the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act, which repeals most of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.
If that fails (as is expected), Senators will then vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which cuts massive portions of the ACA. Because of reconciliation rules, these amendments would require 60 votes to pass. If BCRA fails, Senators will consider what is being called a “skinny repeal,” which repeals the individual mandate penalty, the employer mandate penalty, and the tax on medical devices. (New York Times / Vox / Time / NBC News)
John McCain returned to the Senate for the health care vote after being diagnosed with brain cancer last week. McCain’s vote is critical to today’s procedural vote. His absence would have left Senate Republicans with no margin of error. (Washington Post / Politico)
Senate Republicans don’t know what’s in their health care plan, but they voted anyway on the motion to proceed. About a half-dozen senators were publicly undecided about whether to start debate on rolling back the Affordable Care Act. Several senators have said they want a “replace” plan ready to go before voting “yes.” An agreed upon replace plan is not in place. The bill will have to pass the House before making its way to Trump’s desk. McConnell forced the procedural vote to put every senator on record. (Politico / Vox / CNN)
3/ Trump ripped Jeff Sessions on Twitter, calling him “very weak” when it comes to investigating Hillary Clinton. Trump has repeatedly taken aim at Sessions in recent days, leading to speculation that it’s just a matter of time before the attorney general resigns or is fired. The recent tweets come a day after Trump publicly described Sessions as “beleaguered.” (NBC News / CNN)
4/ Later in the day, Trump added that he is “very disappointed in Jeff Sessions” but won’t say if he’ll fire him. Trump has previously discussed replacing Jeff Sessions in a move viewed by some of Trump’s advisors as part of a strategy for firing special counsel Robert Mueller in order to end his investigation into the campaign’s efforts to coordinate with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election. Sessions recently asked White House staff how he could patch up relations with Trump, but that went nowhere. Instead, Trump floated longtime ally Rudy Giuliani as a possible replacement for Sessions. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Associated Press)
5/ Sessions is “pissed” at Trump for the attacks, but doesn’t plan to quit. Senate Republicans have said that attacks on Sessions, who spent 20 years in the Senate, strain their relationship with Trump. Many GOP senators have expressed annoyance with Trump’s tweets, saying “I really have a hard time with this” and “I’d prefer that he didn’t do that. We’d like Jeff to be treated fairly.” Senators have also been nonplussed by Trump’s criticism of Sessions’ decision to recuse himself, saying “Jeff made the right decision. It’s not only a legal decision, but it’s the right decision.” Trump’s senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon also support Sessions. (The Daily Beast / McClatchy DC)
6/ Anthony Scaramucci says it’s “probably” correct that Trump wants Sessions gone. The new White House communications director didn’t want to speak for the president, but said he thinks Trump has a “certain style” and he is “obviously frustrated.” (The Hill)
7/ Senate Democrats are planning a procedural move to prevent Trump from making recess appointments by forcing the Senate to hold “pro forma” sessions – brief meetings, often only a few minutes. Democrats are worried Trump could attempt to bypass Congress and appoint a new attorney general and undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into alleged Russian meddling in the US election during the planned August recess. (CNN / Reuters)
8/ The Senate Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to Paul Manafort to testify in its Russia probe. Manafort had agreed to provide notes of the meeting at Trump Tower last year with the Russian lawyer, according to a person close to the investigation. Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein said they had been “unable to reach an agreement for a voluntary transcribed interview with the Judiciary Committee” with Manafort. (ABC News / Politico)
The Senate Judiciary Committee has dropped the subpoena against Paul Manafort and plans are underway for the former Trump campaign chairman to speak to investigators. (Politico)
9/ Parents are angry after Trump delivered a politicized speech to tens of thousands of boy scouts. Over 35 minutes, Trump threatened to fire one of his Cabinet members, attacked Obama, dissed Hillary Clinton, marveled at the size of the crowd, warned the boys about the “fake media,” mocked the polls, and said more people would say “Merry Christmas.” Responding to criticism, the Boy Scouts of America insisted it was “wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy.” (Washington Post / BBC)
Trump joked he would fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price if the health care bill doesn’t pass. “Hopefully he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start on the path to kill this thing called ObamaCare that’s really hurting us,” Trump said during a speech to Boy Scouts at the 2017 National Jamboree. “He better get them, otherwise I’ll say, ‘Tom, you’re fired.’” (The Hill)
The 29 most cringe-worthy lines from Donald Trump’s hyper-political speech to the Boy Scouts (CNN)
Trump’s transcript from his 2017 Boy Scout Jamboree speech. (Time)
10/ Trump confirmed a covert CIA program while tweeting that the Washington Post had “fabricated the facts” about his decision to end a program aiding Syrian rebels fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Trump was referring to a story about ending an Obama program where the CIA armed and trained moderate Syrian rebels, a move long sought by the Russian government. (Washington Post / Politico)
11/ A federal judge ruled that Trump’s voter fraud commission may request voter roll data from states. Opponents contend the effort could infringe on privacy rights. The judge said the lawsuit did not have grounds for an injunction because the commission was not technically an action by a government agency – the commission is an advisory body that does not have legal authority to compel states to hand over the data. (Reuters)
12/ Jared Kushner bought real estate from an oligarch’s firm represented by the Russian lawyer. Lev Leviev was a business partner at Prevezon Holdings, where Natalia Veselnitskaya acted as legal counsel. Prevezon was being investigated by Preet Bharara for money laundering before he was fired by Trump in March. Prevezon Holdings attempted to use Manhattan real estate deals to launder money stolen from the Russian treasury. In 2015, Kushner paid $295m to acquire several floors of the old New York Times building at 43rd street in Manhattan from the US branch of Leviev’s company. The Prevezon case was abruptly settled two days before it was due in open court in May for $6 million with no admission of guilt on the part of the defendants. (The Guardian)
13/ A White House press aide resigned after Anthony Scaramucci said he planned to fire him over alleged leaks. Michael Short is the first to leave after Scaramucci promised all aides “a clean slate” and “amnesty” to prove that they were not leaking. “This is the problem with the leaking,” Scaramucci told reporters outside the White House. “This is actually a terrible thing. Let’s say I’m firing Michael Short today. The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic.” Short, who initially said Tuesday that he hadn’t yet been informed of any decision, resigned Tuesday afternoon. (Washington Post / Politico / The Hill)
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