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Alex Brandon / AP

President Trump kicked off his joint news conference with Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon Tuesday by applauding Senate Republicans for voting to take up the health bill and congratulating the American people, "because we're going give you great health care." He later added, "This is the beginning of the end of Obamacare."

Trump also addressed the two no-votes on the motion to proceed, from Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, calling it "very sad." Other highlights from the joint presser:

President Trump

  • On Sessions criticism: "I am disappointed in the Attorney General. He should not have recused himself immediately after taking office... I think it's unfair to the presidency."
  • What can Sessions be doing better? "I want the Attorney General to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies... I think that's one of the very important things that they have to get on with."
  • On Sessions' fate: "We will see what happens. Time will tell, time will tell."
  • Fact check: "Lebanon is on the front lines of the fight against Hezbollah." (Hezbollah is a Shi'a Islamist militant group and political party based in Lebanon.) Trump later declined to answer two more questions about Hezbollah, saying he plans to talk to military experts about the issue soon.
  • ISIS: "We have made more progress in the last four or five months than really I could say the previous administration made in eight years."

Prime Minister Hariri

  • Refugee Crisis: Hariri said he and Trump discussed the refugee crisis, and the challenge of hosting 1.5 million Syrian refugees.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.