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GOP Senator Dean Heller Won’t Support Senate Healthcare Bill

By Clare Foran

The recently unveiled Senate healthcare bill is running into the kind of opposition that could imperil its passage—and that opposition is coming from Republican senators.

Dean Heller of Nevada, one of the most politically vulnerable Republican senators facing re-election in 2018, announced on Friday that he will not support the Senate GOP healthcare bill in its current form.

“This bill would mean a loss of coverage for millions of Americans, and many Nevadans. I’m telling you right now, I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans,” Heller said on Friday during a press conference.  

Heller is the fifth Republican senator to voice opposition, following a joint statement from conservative Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and Mike Lee on Thursday. The statement said that the bill did not “accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes and still pass the legislation, although some have questioned how firm the opposition of the Republican dissenters actually is. Heller hedged on Friday, and said that he could not support the bill “in this form” leaving open the possibility that alterations to the bill would earn his backing before the expected vote next week.

The same holds true for the bill’s more conservative critics—who said explicitly that they were “open to negotiation.” But it’s unclear what kind of changes GOP leadership might be willing to support, and whether those changes would jeopardize support for the bill from other lawmakers.

While the the four conservative senators who have announced opposition appear to be disappointed that the legislation does not go …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Heller High Water

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

Dean Heller became the fifth Republican senator to oppose Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s health-care bill. President Trump signed a bill that will make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire employees, as part of an effort to overhaul the agency. A Cincinnati judge declared a mistrial in the retrial of former Officer Raymond M. Tensing, who fatally shot Samuel DuBose, an unarmed black motorist, in 2015. The leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee asked Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to review allegations of abuse at prisons in Yemen, “including U.S. support to the Emirati and Yemeni partner forces that were purportedly involved.” Senator Steve Scalise, who was shot earlier this month in an attack at a congressional baseball practice, has been transferred out of the intensive care unit and is in fair condition.

Today on The Atlantic

  • What Now?: Trump aides say President Trump is focused on the job, even as evidence mounts to show that Russia interfered in the presidential election to help elect him. David Frum argues that business cannot—and should not—happen as usual.

  • ‘The National Brand Is Toxic’: Despite efforts to rebuild, the Democratic Party has so far been defeated in four special elections this year. Why? (Clare Foran)

  • A Warning for Trump: A Watergate prosecutor weighs in on the parallels between the scandal surrounding Richard Nixon and the controversy over the White House’s alleged ties to Russia. (Richard Ben-Veniste)

Follow stories throughout the day with our Politics & Policy portal.


President Trump reads the “VA Accountability Act” after signing it into law as attendees leave the East Room of the White House in Washington. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

What We’re Reading

‘The Crime of the Century’: In August 2016, the CIA showed then-President Barack Obama intelligence …read more

Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Heller High Water” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



The Risk of Rushing Through Legislation

By Matt Ford

After weeks of secret drafting and backroom negotiations, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled Senate Republicans’ health-care bill on Thursday to a cold reception. If it becomes law, the 142-page bill will overhaul one-sixth of the U.S. economy and change how many Americans make life-and-death decisions. Senators will have little time to digest its full impact: McConnell says he wants a vote on the bill next week.

An unusual legislative blunder by his fellow Republicans in the New Hampshire state legislature earlier this month might serve as a cautionary tale for such excessive haste—especially when crafting and voting on one of the most far-reaching pieces of domestic legislation in a generation.

New Hampshire Republicans rushed last week to urge Governor John Sununu to sign a fetal-homicide bill called Senate Bill 66. Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives had hastily revived and passed the bill at the beginning of June before sending it to Sununu’s desk. (The state Senate approved it in February.) Like similar legislation in two dozen other states, the bill would amend the state’s definition of manslaughter and murder to include “viable” fetuses. The expanded definition would allow prosecutors to bring harsher charges against defendants who injure or attack pregnant women and cause them to miscarry.

To avoid clashing with Supreme Court rulings on abortion rights, the bill included an exception for pregnant women and medical professionals. But the phrasing of the legislation had unintended consequences. Under its original wording, pregnant women and medical professionals would be entirely exempt from the state’s homicide statutes, effectively giving them legal cover to commit murder with impunity.

“The bill as drafted allows for physician-assisted suicide and allows a pregnant woman to commit homicide without consequences,” State Representative J.R. Hoell told the Concord Monitor, adding that such an outcome was …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Q of the Week: Should Congress Take Their Summer Recess?

By Elaine Godfrey

Since early June, Representative Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, has been calling for Congress to cancel its summer recess in order to pass a few key items on the GOP agenda, like health care and tax reform. But lawmakers are reluctant to give up their summer breaks, partly because the recess gives them time to meet with their constituents back in their home states.

This week we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers whether they think lawmakers should go on recess or stick around to focus on work. The responses were mixed. Stan Hastey breaks it down like this:

This is a hard one; I’m truly ambivalent, as was my fellow Oklahoman, [actor and newspaper columnist] Will Rogers. Once he said: “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” So as to keep on humoring us, then, maybe Congress should stick around for the summer.

On another occasion, though, Rogers said: “This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.” Perhaps they should go home, the sooner the better.

And as Jenette Settle writes:

If there were ever a time when Congress needed a recess to return home, it’s now. The country and party is so divided over healthcare, tax cuts, congressional salaries, immigration … Now more than ever our elected officials need to hear from their constituents.

In particular, Ginger Jefferson is worried about getting a chance to speak her mind about the health-care proposal Senate Republicans revealed on Thursday:

If they were wise, thoughtful, patriotic representatives of all the people of this country they would go on recess and allow the public to weigh in on their “Repugnant Care” bill. Give the public the opportunity to actually read …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



What Happens When a Presidency Loses Its Legitimacy?

By David Frum

Day by day, revelation after revelation, the legitimacy of the Trump presidency is seeping away. The question of what to do about this loss is becoming ever more urgent and frightening.

The already thick cloud of discredit over the Trump presidency thickened deeper Friday, June 23. The Washington Post reported that the CIA told President Obama last year that Vladimir Putin had personally and specifically instructed his intelligence agencies to intervene in the U.S. presidential election to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.

Whether the Trump campaign knowingly coordinated its activities with the Russians remains uncertain. The Trump campaign may have been a wholly passive and unwitting beneficiary. Yes, it’s curious that the Russians allegedly directed their resources to the Rust Belt states also targeted by the Trump campaign. But it’s conceivable they were all just reading the same polls on FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics.

Trump himself passionately denounces the whole thing as a monstrous hoax, a “made-up story.” He has not yet lost all his true believers. But those believers do not include very many of the leading Republicans in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees it happened. So does House Speaker Paul Ryan. The House number two, Kevin McCarthy, has even joked that Russia pays Trump.

It’s not seriously disputed by anyone in a position of authority in the U.S. government—apart from the president himself—that Donald Trump holds his high office in considerable part because a foreign spy agency helped place him there. So now what?

Trump’s advisers urge the country to shrug the matter off, to focus on jobs and healthcare and let this compromised president continue to receive the most secret intelligence and control the nation’s armed forces. Another story in The Washington Post quoted this response to the latest shocking revelations from Trump adviser Kellyanne …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Why Do Democrats Keep Losing in 2017?

By Clare Foran

Kansas. Montana. Georgia. South Carolina. A string of special election defeats in each state, and with each one, a missed opportunity to take over a Republican House seat, has left Democrats facing the question: Why does the party keep losing elections, and when will that change?

The most obvious reason that Democrats fell short is that the special elections have taken place in conservative strongholds. In each case, Democratic candidates were vying to replace Republicans tapped by the president to serve in his administration, and in districts that Trump won. Despite the unfavorable terrain, Democrats improved on Hillary Clinton’s margin in every district except in Georgia. But if the party wants to take control of the House in 2018, it needs more than just a strong showing in Republican districts. It needs to win.

“It is a bit surprising that Democrats haven’t managed a single victory yet, and haven’t had more success in turning their anger against the Trump administration into something tangible,” said Barry Burden, the director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The party can weather that for a while, but at some point it could become demoralizing.”

The special elections are a test case of the policy agendas, messages, and strategy Democrats are putting forward in the hope of winning Republican districts. The fact that candidates fared better than Clinton in races that aren’t as high-stakes as a presidential election signals that Democratic voters are energized after losing the White House. Despite efforts to rebuild, however, the Democratic Party’s national brand remains damaged, and it is still unclear whether the party will coalesce around a core message in the Trump era.

In Montana and Georgia, Republicans worked to make the special elections a referendum on the national Democratic Party by <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



How the Senate’s Healthcare Bill Would Cause Financial Ruin for People With Pre-Existing Conditions

By Gene B. Sperling

If there was one goal Senate Republicans had set out to achieve in developing their health bill to show they were less “mean” than their colleagues in the House, it was to take away the House Republicans’ green light for insurers to once again discriminate against those with pre-existing health conditions. Senate Republicans were willing to drive up deductibles and co-pays and be more draconian on Medicaid cuts, but on the one issue of pre-existing conditions they were intent on being less “mean,” as President Trump termed the House bill. Now that the text of the bill has been released, it’s clear that they have failed to achieve that.

As they argue for the bill, Republicans are going to claim that it will not allow insurance plans to discriminate against people because they have a pre-existing condition. But that just isn’t the case. The Republican plan may not allow insurers to discriminate against a pre-existing condition through the front door, but they’ve created a backdoor way in.  

So what is this backdoor for discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions and how does it work?

Answering that question requires understanding the importance of a key protection in the Affordable Care Act, what is known as the “Essential Health Benefits” requirement. These Essential Health Benefits rules require insurance companies to cover critical care, such as treatment by doctors, hospital stays, and prescription-drug costs. The guarantee of Essential Health Benefits means that no insurer can provide any health plan that excludes these critical benefits. Perhaps it goes without saying, but if these benefits are not covered, a plan is all but worthless to those with serious pre-existing conditions.

The Affordable Care Act does allow, through Section 1332, for states to have some flexibility to waive these and other requirements, but only if they meet very rigorous …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Wisconsin Republicans Consider Cracking Down on Campus Protests

By Conor Friedersdorf

The national controversy surrounding attempts to shut down controversial speakers on college campuses entered a new phase this week, with the Senate Judiciary Committee holding a hearing, “Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses.” But even as they held that hearing, Republican legislators in the Wisconsin State Assembly advanced legislation that would severely punish such protests—and pose its own threat to free speech in the process.

Under the bill, University of Wisconsin students “could face a disciplinary hearing if they receive two or more complaints about disruptive conduct during a speech or presentation,” The Washington Post reports. “If a student is found responsible for ‘interfering with the expressive rights of others,’ the bill would require that the student be suspended for a minimum of one semester. A third violation would result in expulsion. Anyone who feels their expressive rights are violated can file a complaint.”

State Representative Jesse Kremer says he sponsored the legislation as a response to situations when the free-speech rights of students were taken away by disruptions. “People are still allowed to protest and disagree,” he told the newspaper. “It’s that the person in a forum has the right to get their point across without being disrupted.”

But a critic of the bill suggested that its punitive approach to protest was itself a threat to free speech rights. “Our colleges and universities should be a place to vigorously debate ideas and ultimately learn from one another,” State Representative Lisa Subeck, a Democrat, told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Instead, this campus gag rule creates an atmosphere of fear where free expression and dissent are discouraged.”  

For years, I have been a staunch critic of activists who shut down invited speakers with whom they disagree, whether through force or sustained chanting and disruption. And I …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Witness to a Saturday Night Massacre

By Richard Ben-Veniste

Watching the national controversy over the White House and Russia unfold, I’m reminded of Karl Marx’s oft-quoted observation: “History repeats itself: first as tragedy, second as farce.” I was a close witness to the national tragedy that was Richard Nixon’s self-inflicted downfall as president, and I’ve recently contemplated whether a repeat of his “Saturday Night Massacre” may already be in the offing. Given how that incident doomed one president, Trump would do well to resist repeating his predecessor’s mistakes—and avoid his presidency’s descent into a quasi-Watergate parody.

The massacre began when Nixon gave the order to fire Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, a desperate effort to prevent him from hearing tape-recorded evidence that proved the White House’s involvement in a conspiracy to obstruct the investigation of a break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters. Nixon’s misuse of executive power backfired, immediately costing him two highly respected members of his administration: Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy William Ruckelshaus, who both resigned rather than follow Nixon’s directive. Third in command at the Justice Department was Solicitor General Robert Bork, who agreed to do the dirty deed and fired Cox.

At the time, I had been working on Cox’s team for only four months and had just been promoted to chief of the task force investigating obstruction-of-justice allegations against Nixon. It was one of five such task forces that Cox organized to carry out his broad mandate. Although Nixon ordered the special prosecutor’s office abolished and commanded the FBI to seize our office and files, we remained employed by the Justice Department. Homeless, leaderless, and dazed by our proximity to the explosion the president had detonated in our midst, we brushed ourselves off and vowed to continue our work in whatever capacity we could.

It was only a matter of days, though, until the …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Perilous Path Ahead for the Senate Health-Care Bill

By Russell Berman

In the hours after Senate Republicans released their long-awaited plan to roll back the Affordable Care Act, it was nearly impossible to find an enthusiastic supporter of the proposal—even among the lawmakers it was most aimed to please.

There was no grand unveiling of a bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his lieutenants supposedly spent weeks perfecting behind closed doors. No triumphant declarations of a promise kept, nor even confident predictions of passage. Shortly before 11 a.m. ET, while Republicans were still being briefed on a bill they had yet to see, the Senate Budget Committee sent out a link to the plain, 142-page text of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.” McConnell went to the Senate floor to talk up the plan as best he could, but even he could only muster modest praise.

“We debated many policy proposals. We considered many different viewpoints,” he said. “In the end, we found that we share many ideas about what needs to be achieved and how we can achieve it.”

Barely two hours later, his bill was already teetering.

Four conservative senators—Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin—quickly declared their opposition to the plan as written on the grounds that it did not go far enough in fulfilling the GOP’s promise to repeal Obamacare. “Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill,” they said in a joint statement while reiterating their desire for more negotiation.

Along the center of the Republican caucus, the watchword was “concern.” A spokeswoman for Susan Collins of Maine, the closest the GOP has to a centrist in the Senate, said she had “a number of concerns” and would await the analysis of the Congressional Budget Office due …read more

Via:: The Atlantic


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