Senate GOP won't release draft health care bill - Axios

Senate GOP won't release draft health care bill

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Senate Republicans are working to finish their draft health care bill, but have no plans to publicly release it, according to two senior Senate GOP aides.

"We aren't stupid," said one of the aides. One issue is that Senate Republicans plan to keep talking about it after the draft is done: "We are still in discussions about what will be in the final product so it is premature to release any draft absent further member conversations and consensus."

Why it matters: Democratic senators are already slamming Republicans for the secrecy of their bill writing process, and this isn't going to help. Republicans are sure to release the bill at some point, but it's unclear when — and they want to vote on it in the next three weeks, before the July 4 recess.

What to watch: When the bill is finished, it'll be sent to the Congressional Budget Office. It'll take CBO about two weeks to evaluate and score a draft bill. Senate Republicans then want to vote on the bill before the July 4th recess. The draft bill had been expected to be finished tonight, but aides say the timing has slipped.

"Conversations with CBO continue" but there are no new announcements about timing, said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, when asked about these plans.

This story has been updated to clarify that the bill is no longer likely to be finished tonight.


CBO score fuels resistance to health care bill

Carolyn Kaster

Minutes after the CBO released its estimate that the Senate health care bill would leave 22 million more people uninsured, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, tweeted: "The American people deserve #BetterCare, which is exactly what we're working to bring them." He's pushing ahead, but resistance to the bill seems to be growing:


McConnell, later: "#Bettercare reduces premiums, deficit, & middle class taxes."

Sen. Ted Cruz, a conservative holdout: "At this point, we need to do considerably more to lower premiums."

Sen Ron Johnson, another holdout, said it would be a "mistake" to rush to a vote.

Sen. Mike Enzi, chairman of the Budget Committee, stressed the positives, saying the CBO determined "the draft bill would lower premiums by 30 percent when compared with current law, while also lowering taxes for hardworking families and providing more than $331 billion in on-budget deficit reduction."

Sen. John Cornyn, in a statement: "Our plan will help address Obamacare's ballooning costs for consumers by lowering premiums over time and cutting taxes, and today's estimate confirms that."


Sen. Brian Schatz: "CBO confirms this thing is a %#$@ sandwich."

Sen. Bernie Sanders: "The CBO analysis of the disastrous Trump-McConnell health care bill gives us 22 million reasons why it should not see the light of day."

Sen. Tim Kaine: "3rd CBO score on a #Trumpcare bill, 3rd horrifying result."


China's 'big brother' reality

Sheila Scarborough / Flickr Creative Commons

The Chinese government is using facial-recognition technology to help promote good behavior and catch lawbreakers — even jaywalkers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Facial recognition is used to enter buildings, withdraw cash from ATMs and prevent cheating during competitions.

Big picture, big brother: China is installing iris scanners at check points throughout the country. The government already monitors social media, and there are plans to institute a national "social credit" system by 2020, which would give citizens ratings based on how they act at work, in public settings and financially. There are 176 million surveillance cameras in China, compared to 50 million in the U.S..

The tech: Chinese tech firms are competing to create surveillance systems to sell to the government. As artificial intelligence technologies advance, so does facial-recognition.

In the U.S., the FBI uses facial recognition to help catch suspects and the DHS is starting to use it in airports to keep track of foreign visitors. Other U.S. companies are using facial recognition in pilot programs.


Facebook wants to partner with Hollywood to make shows

AP / Evan Agostini

Facebook is in talks with Hollywood studios to create scripted shows with a per-episode budget equivalent to high-end cable shows, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company is willing to spend up to $3 million per episode and will give Hollywood creators a portion of ad revenue. These partnerships will be part of Facebook's larger push to roll out original content by the end of summer.

Why it matters: Facebook is experimenting with original content to compete with video giants like Netflix and Amazon as well as social giants like Snapchat and Twitter, which have already delved into original content.

Pro-Trump group targets four more senators over health care


America First Policies, an outside group backing President Trump's agenda, is expanding its online and social media ad campaign to target four more GOP senators who have come out against the Senate's health care bill, per the AP.

The new targets: Rand Paul (KY), Ted Cruz (TX), Mike Lee (UT), and Ron Johnson (WI) — in addition to Dean Heller of Nevada, who was the group's first target.

More to come? The AP notes that a radio and TV buy against the senators might be coming by the end of the week. As Axios reported this morning, they may have a chance to walk back their opposition to the bill before the advertising onslaught hits with full force.


Apple confirms it has bought a small German computer vision company

SensoMotoric Instruments

Apple has quietly bought SensoMotoric Instruments, a German maker of eye-tracking glasses.

The deal was first reported by MacRumors, and Apple essentially confirmed the deal, offering the standard statement it gives when it buys companies. Founded in 1991, SMI does work in mobile eye tracking as well as for augmented and virtual reality, according to its website.

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," an Apple representative said in a statement to Axios.

Why it matters: The deal could help Apple with its efforts in augmented and virtual reality. The company is building augmented reality tools for developers into iOS 11, the next version of the iPhone and iPad operating system.


Trump welcomes Modi to the White House

Evan Vucci / AP

President Trump welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House Monday afternoon. They will discuss terrorism, visas, North Korea, and economic growth. Trump is also expected to announce the sale of 22 drones to India during the visit, Defense News reports, but the White House says he and Modi won't take questions after delivering a joint statement.

This is their first meeting, but Trump and Modi have spoken on the phone three times.

Making the rounds: Earlier Monday, Modi held meetings with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.


What the Supreme Court decided today

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

The Supreme Court rattled off a number of decisions today before breaking for summer recess. Below we've listed the details of five major cases, and why they matter:

Reinstated parts of Trump's travel ban

SCOTUS determined that President Trump's 90-day travel ban on 6 majority-Muslim countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — will go into effect for some travelers. However, foreigners "with a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States" will be protected from the ban. Justices will circle back and review arguments in the case in October.

Why it matters: Unlike Trump's original travel ban, travelers with valid green cards and visas will now be allowed to enter the U.S., but all refugees from the 6 countries listed will be banned.

Ruled states can't refuse all financial aid to churches

The justices ruled that the state of Missouri was wrong to exclude a Christian school from a program that granted non-profits with rubber surfacing for their playgrounds. Missouri originally argued that the state constitution prohibits public money from going to religious organizations.

Why it matters: The ruling has reduced the level of separation between church and state, and has set a new precedent that religious institutions should be eligible to receive some public funds.

Declined to review a California law restricting concealed weapon permits

The court decided not to intervene in Peruta v. California, in which a lower court determined that the Second Amendment doesn't protect the right to carry a concealed weapon in public. Two dissenting justices, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, said the court should have heard the case.

Why it matters: That "good cause" requirement needed to obtain a concealed carry permit must be more specific than just a general concern for wellbeing.

Ordered Arkansas to list same-sex parents' names on birth certificates

SCOTUS ruled that Arkansas authorities are required to list the names of both same-sex parents' on their child's birth certificates. The court said the state had chosen "to make its birth certificates more than a marker of biological relationships: the state uses those certificates to give married parents a form of legal recognition to unmarried parents" and same-sex couples deserve the same recognition. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented.

Why it matters: Other states with similar laws, including them Alabama, Alaska, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Wyoming, will now be pressured to change laws that differentiate between "husbands" and "same-sex spouses."

Agreed to hear same-sex wedding cake case

The court decided it will hear an appeal case from a Colorado bakery that refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. During the hearing, the justices will have to determine whether Masterpiece Cake Shop owner Jack Phillips, who argues that making a wedding cake for a same-sex couple violates his religious views, goes against the state's public accommodations law.

Why it matters: The ACLU, which is representing the couple, stated that if Phillips' prevails, "any business could claim a safe harbor from any commercial regulation simply by claiming that it believes complying with the law would send a message with which it disagrees."

Other SCOTUS decisions made on June 26

  • Justices ruled that a Texas death row inmate could still face execution, despite claims that his prior appellate lawyer was ineffective during his post-conviction hearings.
  • The court upheld a rule stating that investors can't wait more than three years to decide whether to stay in securities class actions, even though the cases tend to take more than three years to resolve.
  • SCOTUS decided they will hear a case on whether a the family of a 15-year-old Mexican boy who was shot across the border by a U.S. Border patrol agent is eligible to seek damages in court.

Apple releases public test of iOS 11, with biggest changes for iPad


Apple on Monday is releasing a public beta of iOS 11, the update to the iPhone/iPad operating system it previewed earlier this month.

Our take: Admittedly, we've only been testing the software for a couple days on a couple of devices, but iOS 11 seems stable enough for everyday use (though as with any beta software, people are cautioned not to use it on their primary device.) We've been using it on an iPhone 7 and it has been crash-free and all our apps have worked fine.

The biggest changes, though, are for the iPad. There iOS 11 makes it far easier to move between apps and do the kind of things that historically have been done on a computer, and in some cases even do those tasks more easily. It was a snap, for example, to sign an AirBnB contract and e-mail it back without having to print or scan anything. One can also more easily navigate multiple open windows, thanks to a new dock. The ability to drag-and-drop a photo or other item from one app to another is also a welcome and natural improvement, though only Apple's apps support it for now.

And with the new iPad Pro, it is possible to have three different apps open at the same time (and even watch a video in a small fourth window.) As we said in our review of the iPad Pro, iOS 11 is really the software the machine was designed to be running.

What's not yet there in this beta: Augmented reality apps taking advantage of ARKit, the ability to transfer money to a friend using Apple Pay in messages, support for third-party storage sources like box and dropbox in Files.

What you need: The iOS 11 beta (and final version) works on an iPhone 5s or later, as well as all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, the 5th generation iPad, the iPad mini 2 and later and the 6th generation iPod touch.


U.S. to name China as one of world's worst human traffickers

Andy Wong / AP

The U.S. is planning to name China as one of the world's worst offenders in human trafficking and forced labor, Reuters reports, citing a congressional source and a person familiar with the matter. The sources also said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to classify China as a "tier 3" offender — alongside Iran, North Korea, and Syria.

Why it matters: This follows President Trump's tweet calling out China for not doing enough to help put pressure on North Korea. The move could strain the administration's relationship with Beijing, which Trump has worked to strengthen over the past few months.

China's downgraded ranking is slated to be announced Tuesday in an annual State Department report.


People with mood disorders receive 51% of opioid prescriptions

Charles Williams / Flickr Creative Commons

The number of opioids prescribed quadrupled from 2011 and 2013, and 19% of Americans with mood disorders have used opioids — compared to 5% of the total population, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 51% of all opioid prescriptions in the U.S. are given to people with anxiety, depression or other similar disorders.

"We're handing this stuff out like candy," Brian Sites, senior author of the study, told STAT. Sites offered STAT a few possible explanations for the statistic:

  1. Past research has shown that people with depression are more likely to have chronic pain that is often treated with opioids.
  2. Doctors could be more likely to prescribe medication when they know the patient already suffers from an emotional disorder.
  3. Opioids may temporarily help depression.