Sep 25, 2017

Cassidy-Graham hearing: A dramatic political showdown over a dying bill

Capitol police remove protestors from the Finance hearing on Cassidy-Graham. Photo: Caitlin Owens/Axios

The Senate Finance Committee hearing on Republicans' latest health care bill is about as chaotic as congressional hearings get, with senators talking over one another, testifying about bills they wrote (which is unusual), and protestors in wheelchairs being dragged out of the committee room.

Be smart: This dramatic political showdown is all happening for a bill that's widely assumed to be dead. Not only are Republicans highly unlikely to pass this bill, but now they'll also have to deal with photos of disabled people in wheelchairs being removed from a hearing about a bill they fear could take away their health care coverage.

What's happened:

  • Protestors attending today's hearing on Republicans' health care proposals were immediately removed by Capitol police after they began chanting, "No cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty" as soon as Chairman Orrin Hatch gaveled the hearing into session. The hearing couldn't begin for roughly 20 minutes — until the protestors, many in wheelchairs, had been removed. "If you can't be in order, then get the heck out of here," Hatch said once the protestors were removed.
  • Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of the bill's sponsors and one of the witnesses testifying at the hearing, said the most recent version of the bill is also the final one, aside from corrections to drafting errors. Ranking Member Ron Wyden asked if the most recent version of the bill is the one the Senate will vote on. "Yeah, I believe so…I hope a correction of a drafting error doesn't constitute a whole 'nother version," Cassidy replied. Why this matters: Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are withholding their votes for the bill unless they get policy changes they've asked for. Cassidy made it sound like those changes aren't coming. Sen. John McCain is the third public "no" vote, meaning the bill is looking pretty dead.

Go deeper

Trump touts press briefing "ratings" as U.S. coronavirus case surge

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.

World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 44 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 704,095 — Total deaths: 33,509 — Total recoveries: 148,824.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 132,637 — Total deaths: 2,351 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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