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Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Republicans have wasted no time in trying to make vulnerable Senate Democrats pay a price for voting last week against an amendment defunding Planned Parenthood.

Why it matters: No Democrats voted for it, including those in red states defending their seats. These Democrats need to win over independent or Republican voters to keep their seats, and thus need to be more conservative than the rest of their party. Tying them to liberal groups and the left wing of their party is one way the GOP is trying to deny them these votes.

The state of play: The National Republican Senate Committee almost immediately released a TV ad slamming Sen. Heidi Heitkamp for her vote against the amendment, saying she "doesn't vote like North Dakota."

  • NRSC also released a statement criticizing Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly for the vote, signaling that it sees tying Donnelly to the liberal wing of the party through Planned Parenthood as a potent line of attack.
  • The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List has a TV ad against West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin that was running before last week's vote but is likely to be more relevant now. The NRSC has already accused Manchin of flip-flopping on abortion, and says this vote only furthers its argument.

Go deeper

Storms pummel flood-hit Pacific Northwest as border river overflows

An image of the water-logged Sumas Prairie area taken last Friday. Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Twitter.

The latest ferocious storm system to hit the Pacific Northwest triggered fresh evacuation orders and at least one mudslide in flood-ravaged British Columbia, Canada, late Sunday.

Threat level: Flood sirens sounded in Washington state as the Nooksack River overflowed. Henry Braun, mayor of Abbotsford, B.C., told reporters the water flow was headed toward the Canadian border city later Sunday. "There's nothing to stop it," he said.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

Former Defense Secretary Esper sues Pentagon over book

Former President Trump and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the White House in 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of "censoring" his First Amendment rights by redacting aspects of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.

The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that "significant text" is "being improperly withheld from publication" of the manuscript "under the guise of classification."

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