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Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump needed the vote of just one more Republican senator to keep the repeal-and-replace process alive — and he could easily have had it.

Party sources tell us that during the transition, Senate Republicans heavily lobbied Trump to nominate red- state Senate Democrats to Cabinet positions, with the hope that the successors would be Republicans.

But Trump went with an all-GOP Cabinet — a fateful decision that fostered this scorched-earth atmosphere, in which no Democrat is willing to help him with his legislative priorities.

  • The #1 prospect was Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), perhaps for Secretary of Agriculture. North Dakota Gov Doug Burgum is a Republican, so he could have engineered a successor who would have been the vote Trump needed.
  • Another possibility that was kicked around was Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) for a job like Secretary of Energy. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is a Democrat but has a close relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and might have played ball on a conservative replacement.
  • Another Cabinet prospect: Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

Why it matters: A Republican strategist, closely familiar with the transition conversations, say in an email: "That vote would have repealed Obamacare last month [the stronger version that was considered before the Fourth of July break]. A strong Chief [of staff] would have understood and executed on that wisdom instead of waiting and watching the President's agenda lose by narrow margin.

"In short, if [Gen. John] Kelly — or someone of equal strength — was the Chief of Staff in January, Obamacare would be repealed today. And who knows what else may already be accomplished."

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Go deeper

Scoop: Over 200 papers quietly sue Big Tech

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Newspapers all over the country have been quietly filing lawsuits against Google and Facebook for the past year, alleging the two firms monopolized the digital ad market for revenue that would otherwise go to local news. 

Why it matters: What started as a small-town effort to take a stand against Big Tech has turned into a national movement, with over 200 newspapers involved across dozens of states.

Updated 50 seconds ago - Economy & Business

The billionaire balloon

Data: World Inequality Report 2022; Chart: Axios Visuals

The super-rich are getting stupid rich: New data out today shows the share of global wealth held by the richest slice of humanity swelled by almost a full percentage point during the pandemic.

Driving the news: The top 0.01% of individuals now hold about 11% of the world's wealth, compared to just over 10% in 2020, according to the "World Inequality Report 2022," written by Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 mins ago - Health

Omicron gives a shot to boosters

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Vaccination rates have ticked higher since the discovery of the Omicron variant, CDC data shows.

By the numbers: The seven-day average for vaccinations in the U.S. reached about 1.8 million on Monday, up from an average of about 1.3 million a month ago.