Jul 26, 2017

The Senate's health care circus is just getting started

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

We still don't know — no one knows — how the Senate's health care process is likely to end. But it's now well under way. And as the lopsided defeat of the Senate repeal-and-replace plan last night showed, there could be plenty of surprises ahead.

Here's where things stand as we barrel toward some kind of conclusion tomorrow night.

  • The Senate last night voted down a modified version of Republicans' larger repeal-and-replace bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. But BCRA is not necessarily dead. Last night's version included provisions that haven't been scored or reviewed by the parliamentarian.
  • Another, simpler version — like the most recent one scored by the Congressional Budget Office — could still come up later in the process, a senior GOP aide told us.
  • Technically, last night's vote was procedural, but it's extremely reasonable to take that vote as a proxy for the policy itself.
  • The next vote, scheduled for early this afternoon, will be on the updated version of the 2015 repeal-only bill. That, too, is expected to fail.
  • All signs point to a vote-a-rama Thursday night, perhaps into Friday morning.

The hot new thing: "Skinny repeal." If neither BCRA nor straight repeal looks to be gaining any traction, the next option in the rotation appears to be a bill that would repeal small parts of the ACA — like the individual mandate and a tax or two.

  • The goal here wouldn't necessarily be to settle for that outcome, but to pass something that would trigger a conference committee with the House. Normally designed as a way to hammer out specific differences in House and Senate bills, a conference here would function more like another opportunity to write another bill — albeit under many of the same restrictions.
  • House Republicans aren't sure yet how they feel about this option. They're waiting to see what — if anything — the Senate actually sends them. But anything that keeps the process alive would be a good thing, a senior House GOP aide told Axios' Caitlin Owens.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 6,800,604 — Total deaths: 396,591 — Total recoveries — 2,785,268Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,908,235 — Total deaths: 109,443 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight coronavirus Fauci: "Very concerned" about spread of virus amid George Floyd protests — Cities offer free testing for protesters.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model as use of robots accelerates.
  5. Business: Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.

George Floyd updates

A protester holds a placard reading "Covid kills People, Racism kills Communities" as they attend a demonstration in Manchester, northern England, on June 6, to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Photo: Paul Ellis/Contributor.

Thousands are gathering for a day of protests in Washington, D.C., almost two weeks after George Floyd's killing. Protesters in Australia and Europe staged anti-racism demonstrations on Saturday as well.

What's happening: A memorial service for Floyd is taking place in Raeford, North Carolina — near where he was born. Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all flags to fly at half-staff to honor Floyd until sunset. Thousands of demonstrators have gathered in Philadelphia and Chicago.

Buffalo police officers arrested after shoving 75-year-old protester

Photo: Mike Desmond/WBFO via AP

Two Buffalo police officers were charged with assault on Saturday after a video emerged of them shoving a 75-year-old protester while clearing a demonstration in the wake of George Floyd's killing, AP reports, citing prosecutors.

The state of play: Both officers pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault, and were released without bail. After the law enforcement officers were initially suspended without pay on Friday, all 57 officers on the Buffalo Police Department's Emergency Response Team resigned in a show of support for their fellow officers' suspensions.