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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

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

4 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.