Jul 25, 2017

Senate votes to start health care debate

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The Senate has officially taken up legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act — overcoming a hurdle Republicans weren't sure they could clear just a few days ago. Fifty Republican senators voted to start the debate, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie.

How it happened: Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, sitting next to each other in the Senate chamber, voted against the motion, along with all 46 Democrats and two Democrat-leaning independents. Protesters in the galleries shouted "Kill the bill! Don't kill us!" and "Shame!"

The big moment: The standing ovation for Sen. John McCain as he walked in to vote for the motion.

One tense moment: Sen. Ron Johnson, another Republican who has expressed concerns, had a long talk on the floor with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell before casting his vote. He voted yes, right after McCain.

What's next: Twenty hours of debate, followed by votes on the Senate's repeal and replacement plan and a 2015 bill that would repeal much of the ACA without replacing it. If both fail, all votes will be to amend the House-passed health care bill, which is the vehicle they're technically starting with.

We can't rule out other versions of repeal, either. Even McCain, in a floor speech with all of the senators listening, made it clear he wants changes in the Senate bill: "I will not vote for the bill as it is today."

The bottom line: No one knows if any of the repeal proposals can pass the Senate — but it will be harder for Senate Republicans to give up and shelve the effort now that they've gotten this far.

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President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

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Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.

Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.

New York Times says Tom Cotton op-ed did not meet standards

Photo: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A New York Times spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the paper will be changing its editorial board processes after a Wednesday op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), which called for President Trump to "send in the troops" in order to quell violent protests, failed to meet its standards.

Why it matters: The shift comes after Times employees began a coordinated movement on social media on Wednesday and Thursday that argued that publishing the op-ed put black staff in danger. Cotton wrote that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act in order to deploy the U.S. military against rioters that have overwhelmed police forces in cities across the country.