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Evan Vucci / AP

West Wing officials had been sweating the health-care vote more than they let on. A White House source texted Axios' Jonathan Swan last night: "Needed that win. It was like a fog lifted."

  • Many on Trump's staff knew that the first bill was a dog, even though they had to sell it publicly. The way history is being written internally is that Healthcare 1.0 was outsourced to Speaker Ryan and HHS Secretary Tom Price, which is now seen at highest levels as a major mistake. For 2.0, letting Vice President Pence play quiet broker with the House factions worked much better. (More on Pence's role here.)
  • Reality check: Yesterday's Rose Garden celebration (a rare gesture when a bill has passed one chamber, and is probably months from the president's desk) could become Trump's "Mission Accomplished" if the bill bogs down in the Senate, or on its return trip to the House.
  • Sound smart: House leaders knew the fragile vote could unravel if they delayed. But now members have rushed into voting for a measure that has zero chance of becoming law in its current, controversial form. And they did it for Trump, who could wind up costing some of them their seats.

What's next: The Senate will radically rewrite the House bill, which will take at least a month, and maybe two. But Mitch McConnell will allow the wheels to turn. A top aide says: "He wants to get it done."

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Go deeper

53 mins ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.

3 hours ago - World

Scoop: Germany urges Congress not to sanction Putin’s pipeline

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The German government has urged members of Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing that doing so will "weaken" U.S. credibility and "ultimately damage transatlantic unity," according to documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: At a time when roughly 100,000 Russian troops are massing at its border, Ukraine views Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to its security. The pipeline would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion.