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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Republican senators emerged from a luncheon this afternoon with little to no excitement about their last hope — a "skinny repeal" health care bill that represents the bare minimum they think they can pass. Some are dismayed that they're setting the bar so low after seven years of promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Most were noncommittal about voting for it. ""We will see what comes off the floor," said Sen. Ted Cruz, who has built much of his career on promising ACA repeal.

Please don't pass this bill: Sen. Bob Corker said he and other GOP senators are likely to receive "assurances that this is the pathway to conference" with the House, not a final product that the House would pass untouched: "After focusing on a full repeal, and then going to almost nothing, people are going to have some concerns voting for that."

If it actually became law, Sen. Lindsey Graham said, it "would destroy insurance markets and not even remotely replace Obamacare. This is going to be a trust but verify situation."

The "it's only conference" pitch is working for some senators, though:

What to watch: The "vote-a-rama" is expected to start tonight. Also, at some point Senate Republicans may release the bill.

Go deeper

22 mins ago - World

Iran's nuclear dilemma: Ramp up now or wait for Biden

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The world is waiting to see whether Iran will strike back at Israel or the U.S. over the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran's military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Senior Iranian officials have stressed that Iran will take revenge against the perpetrators, but also respond by continuing Fakhrizadeh’s legacy — the nuclear program. The key question is whether Iran will accelerate that work now, or wait to see what President-elect Biden puts on the table.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it's approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine that's found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.

3 hours ago - World

Biden says he won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.