Is Trump moving to the centre on handguns? Don’t hold your breath

The president seemed ready to take on the NRA but experience should construct us wary of his inconsistency and inability to master detail

Donald Trump stunned Washington this week by espousing a series of gun control measures long opposed by the National Rifle Association and most Republicans on Capitol Hill. The predominating question remained how long it would last.

Senate Democrats breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday when they awoke to find Trump had not backtracked on gun control in an early morning tweet. (” Background Checks a big part of the conversation ,” he said .)

But on Thursday night, an NRA executive left the White House with a quite different impression of where the president stood on gun control legislation.

” I had a great fulfilling tonight with @realDonaldTrump& @VP ,” Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, tweeted.” We all want safe schools, mental health reform and to keep handguns away from dangerous people. POTUS& VPOTUS support the Second Amendment, subsistence strong due process and don’t want gun control .”

An hour afterward, Trump tweeted:” Good( Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA !”

The president has been under pressure to reform America’s firearm statutes in the wake of the 14 February high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead. On Wednesday, Trump convened a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators to identify various legislative proposals on what ranks among the most politically contentious issues in Washington.

The discussion was televised for full impact, casting Trump once more as a deal-making chairman willing to buck members of his own party. But to skeptics, the display was reminiscent of Trump’s approach to immigration earlier this year- when he similarly adopted a softer tone before veering back to the right.

” It was just this January where the president held a bipartisan session on a thorny issue, immigration, and seemed interested in find common ground ,” the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, said here on Thursday.” He said he was willing to buck the extremes, and encouraged lawmakers to act .”

” Unfortunately the president was pulled back by the hard right, and avoided a bipartisan proposal from emerging ,” Schumer added.

” That happened several times. That cannot happen on guns .”

For Trump, vacillating constantly between vying policy positions is far from new. As a candidate, Trump repeatedly contracted himself while also doing away with the views he previously held as a Manhattan real estate mogul who donated to Democrats.

Since taking office, Trump has maintained a reliably conservative record and largely acted on the protectionist agenda that defined his presidential campaign.

So when Trump stated his support on Wednesday for universal background checks, taking away handguns from the mentally ill, new age restrictions for purchasing certain handguns, and even flirted with banning certain assault weapons, Republican balked.

” We have the second amendment and due process of law for a reason ,” said Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska.

” Strong leaders do not automatically agree with the last thing that was said to them .”

In one particularly striking exchange, Trump castigated Pat Toomey, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania, for resisting a proposal that would raise the age limit for buying certain guns from 18 to 21.

” You know why? Because you’re afraid of the NRA ,” Trump said.

The White House was left doing damage control. Trump’s aides reportedly told Republican on Capitol Hill to recall the immigration debate, when the president appeared to side with Democrat on a pathway to citizenship for young, undocumented immigrants before returning to a decidedly hard-right framework.

Trump’s allies weren’t the only ones describing parallels to the president’s handled with immigration.

Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat who was deeply to participate in immigration talks at the White House, expressed skepticism that Trump’s newfound positions on firearm safety would stick.

” I wouldn’t bet the farm on it ,” Durbin said.

Others gun control advocates were more hopeful.

Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut who has led the fight for stricter firearm laws, said he is anticipated to” take the president at his term “.

” Republicans are feeling the hot even more than ever ,” Murphy said.” This debate is different after[ Wednesday’s] session .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Trump poised to sign away privacy protections for internet users

President to approve law killing rules meant to prevent internet service providers from selling consumers web browsing and app storage histories to advertisers

President Donald Trump was expected to sign legislation on Wednesday allowing internet service providers to sell the browsing habits of their customers.

The move, which critics charge will fundamentally undermine customer privacy, overrules an Obama-era rule issued last October that was designed to give consumers greater control over how internet service providers( ISPs) could share their information.

Those rules, drawn up by the Federal Communications Commission( FCC ), were scheduled to take effect by the end of 2017 and would have forced ISPs to get peoples permission before selling their data to advertisers and others.

Fifteen Republican transgressed ranks to vote against the controversial measure on Tuesday evening but the House of Representatives voted 215 to 205 to approve a resolution that uses the Congressional Review Act( CRA) to prevent the privacy regulations from taking effect.

The CRA lets an incoming president to overturn previous executive branch regulations and has been used by Trump to repeal a number of Obamas key initiatives.

The repeal reached the presidents desk on Wednesday morning and the White House has signalled Trumps clear intention to sign it.

Without the FCC broadband protections, ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon and AT& T are free to track your browsing behaviour and sell that data on to advertisers without permission. This represents a huge treasure trove of personal data, including your health fears, shopping habits and visits to porn sites. ISPs can find out where you bank, your political views and sexual orientation simply based on the websites you visit. The fact that you are looking at a website at all can also disclose when youre at home and when youre not.

Give me one good reason why Comcast should know what my mothers medical problems are, told congressman Mike Capuano during the hearing before the vote, explaining how he had researched her condition after a trip to the doctor. Just last week I bought underwear on the internet. Why should you know what sizing I take? Or the colour?

The House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, told: Americans learned last week that agents of Russian intelligence hacked into email accounts to obtain secrets on American companies, government officials and more.

This resolution would not only objective specific requirements you take reasonable measures to protect consumers sensitive info, but prevents the FCC from legislating a similar requirement and leaves no other agency capable of protecting consumers.

But Ajit Pai, Trumps newly appointed head of the FCC, was contended that the Obama era rules were an example of regulatory overreach and that another regulator, the Federal Trade Commission, already polices online privacy rules.

Moving forward, I want the American people to know that the FCC will work with the FTC to ensure that consumers online privacy is protected though a consistent and comprehensive framework. In my view, the most effective ways to achieve that result would be to return jurisdiction over broadband providers privacy practises to the FTC, with its decades of experience and expertise in this area, he said.

Those in favor of repealing the privacy rules argued that it levelled the playing field for internet service providers who want to get into the advertising business like Google and Facebook. According to ISPs, scrapping the rules would allow them to show the user more relevant ad and offers, which would give the companies better return on the investment they have attained in infrastructure. They argue that web browsing history and app utilization should not count as sensitive information.

But privacy advocates and consumer watchdogs instantly joined Democrat in condemning the policy shift.

Today Congress proved once again that they care more about the desire of the corporations that fund their campaigns than they do about the safety and security of their constituents, told Evan Greer, campaign director of digital rights group Fight for the Future.

Gutting these privacy rules wont just allow internet service providers to spy on us and sell our personal information, it will also enable more unconstitutional mass government surveillance, and fundamentally undermine our cybersecurity by making our sensitive personal information vulnerable to hackers, identity thieves, and foreign governments, she added.

Carmen Scurato, director of policy and legal affairs at the National Hispanic Media Coalition, called the vote a disturbing rubber stamp from conservative policymakers aimed at dismantling needed consumer protections for corporate profit.

With the approval of the president, corporations will now be handed the ability to share the sensitive, personal information of millions of Americans without their consent and impede the FCCs role as a consumer watchdog far into the future, she said.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Senate Republicans feel force of protest … but pass taxation bill anyway

Activists targeted key senators over tax, with sit-ins, phone calls and other lobbying endeavors, while net neutrality campaigners have Verizon in their sights

Tax bill pass Senate … but only after activists make their voices heard

Senate Republicans ultimately managed to pass some legislation on Friday night, in the form of their much-criticized tax bill … but only after a remarkable effort from activists to thwart the bill.

In Arizona activists had protested through Thursday night outside John McCain’s office, while people did the same outside Susan Collins’ office in Bangor, Maine. Both had been seen as potential no elections before committing to the bill this week.

Even on Friday morning, progressive group Indivisible had been recommending activists to expend the working day constructing calls to senators, providing phone number and indicated scripts to recommend elected officials to vote against the legislation.

The
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell: wealthcare victory. Photograph: Edelman/ Sipa/ Rex/ Shutterstock

It wasn’t just activists who launched desperate endeavours. The DNC exhorted supporters to make bellows, while the editorial board of the New York Times took over the @nytopinion Twitter feed on Wednesday” to advise the Senate to reject a tax bill that hurts the middle class& the nation’s fiscal health “.

NYT Opinion (@ nytopinion)

This morning, The New York Times Editorial Board is tweeting here to recommend the Senate to repudiate a taxation bill that hurts the middle class& the nation’s fiscal health. #thetaxbillhurts

November 29, 2017

On Monday thousands of activists across the country had launched sit-ins at senators’ offices. In the end all the effort wasn’t enough. But there will be more battles to come.

Verizon focus of last ditch net neutrality protest

Hundreds of protests are planned outside Verizon stores on Thursday 7 December, to demonstrate against the upcoming Federal Communications Commission vote on net neutrality.

Activists say they have chosen to target Verizon as the FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is a former lawyer for Verizon. The company has lobbied for current regulations- designed to protect an open internet- to be overturned.

The FCC is due to vote on defanging those regulations on 14 December- potentially allowing internet service providers like Verizon to charge for different levels of web access.

Some
It’s really hard to illustrate net neutrality. Photo: Michael Bocchieri/ Getty Images

A group of alliances including Fight for the Future and Team Internet are organizing the demonstrations.

” We’ll demand that our members of Congress take action to stop Verizon’s puppet FCC from killing net neutrality ,” told a message on different groups’ Verizon Protests website, which has a tool for people to find their nearest protests.

Broken musical instruments for children

Grammy award-winning composer David Lang is launching his Symphony for a Broken Orchestra in Philadelphia this weekend- a novel attempt to draw attention to the more than $1.2 m that has been slashed from the city’s musical instrument mend fund.

Lang- who won a Grammy in 2010 for his composition The Little Match Girl Passion and the Pulitzer prize for music in 2008- sourced 1,500 broken musical instruments the School District of Philadelphia for the performance.

A
This is a photo of a trombone. Photo: David Levene for the Guardian

” If there are 1,500 broken musical instruments, that’s 1,500 infants who should be playing these instruments and whose lives could be changed ,” told Lang.” There is something heartbreaking about it .”

Lang hopes people will donate to repair tools through the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra website– those instruments will then be set” back into the hands of a child “.

We’re reading

* ” I’m a multimillionaire so Trump’s tax plan is great for me ,” writes Morris Pearl for Time.” It’s a disaster for everyone else .” Pearl is chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, a group of wealthy people who believe millionaires, billionaires and firms should be taxed more. The notion that the Senate tax plan” is going to help anyone beside the ultra-rich is ludicrous”, Pearl says.

* More than 20,000 people have signed a petition advising the justice department to analyse” claims of sexual assault against Donald J Trump “.” We request that the Justice Department appoint a special counseling to open an investigation into the years of accusations against Donald Trump ,” wrote Susan O’Connor, who started the petition. More than 20 girls have accused Trump of sex misconduct- he has denied all the allegations. The Guardian has compiled a listing of all the accusations against the president. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Sally Yates firing and Trump cabinet cause partisan ‘bad blood’ to boil over

Republicans hurry-up to defend chairwomen travel forbidding and decision to fire acting attorney general as Democrats boycott Tom Price and Steve Mnuchin votes

A dirty political battle roiled Washington on Tuesday as allies and officials rallied around Donald Trump and his controversial travelling outlaw, while opponents intensified their tactics to thwart his administration at every turn.

Republicans defended the presidents forbid on entry for people from seven Muslim-majority countries and his decision to fire the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, on Monday night for refusing to enforce it. Democrats boycotted referendums on two of Trumps cabinet nominees and braced for a long combat over his imminent pick for the supreme court.

With both sides digging in, there seemed little prospect of an objective to what former chairman Barack Obama once described as the rancour and distrust of hyper-partisan politics in Washington. Trump campaigned on a pledge to fix a broken system.

A Reuters/ Ipsos poll published on Tuesday found that 49% either strongly or somewhat agreed with the executive order, with 41% strongly or somewhat against. However, 41% felt the US was setting a bad instance in how to combat terrorism, versus 38% who said the opposite. And 56% disagreed that the country should welcome Christian refugees, but not Muslim ones.

On Tuesday morning Senate Democrat delayed the consideration of Tom Price, Trumps pick for health secretary, and Steven Mnuchin, his selection for treasury secretary. Democrats refused to attend referendums on the committees tasked with reviewing the two nominees, who rank among Trumps more controversial selections, telling Price and Mnuchin had misinformed them in their verification hearings.

Democrats demanded that Price, a congressman from Georgia, and Mnuchin, a former partner of Goldman Sachs, appear before the committees for further questioning. The theatrics amounted to the only options at the Democrats disposal to block Trumps cabinet appointees from their position in the Senate minority.
Republicans, who in 2013 boycotted a vote on Obamas nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, lashed out at Democrat.
Im very disappointed in this kind of crap, said Orrin Hatch, the Utah senator who chairs the Senate finance committee. This is the most pathetic thing Ive seen in my whole time in the United States Senate I think they ought to stop posturing and acting like idiots.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, branded the Democrat actions embarrassing. He told reporters at his daily briefing: The mere idea that theyre not showing up to hearings is outrageous.

Sixteen of Trumps nominees for government agencies are still awaiting verification, Spicer said, whereas at the same stage in 2009, Obama only had nine yet to be approved.

It remained unclear when the votes might be rescheduled. Democrat could continue to stall indefinitely under regulations requiring that at least one of them be participating for the relevant committees to hold a vote.

Elaine Chao received verification from the Senate to become transportation secretary on Tuesday, however. The Senate energy and national resources committee speedily approved former Texas governor Rick Perry as energy secretary by 16 -7, and Representative Ryan Zinke to head the interior department by 16 -6. They too await verification by the full Senate.

Also on Tuesday New York joined a lawsuit against Trumps executive order brought by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, the Urban Justice Center and others.

Eric Schneiderman, the New York state attorney general, described the order as unconstitutional, unlawful, and fundamentally un-American.

Later on Tuesday the state of Virginia became a plaintiff in a federal suit filed over an incident on Saturday where two Yemeni friends arrived at Dulles airport from east Africa with residency green cards, planning to join their father in Michigan, but were blocked by agents enforcing the travel prohibit and put on a flight back the style they had come. The lawsuit seeks to restore the immigration rights of the brothers and up to 60 others whom lawyers say suffered a similar fate at Dulles at the weekend.

Washington became the first nation to sue the White House on Monday. Amazon, which is headquartered in Washington, pledged support.

At 8p m ET prime time on US television Trump is due to announce his nominee for the supreme court to fill a vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia almost a year ago.

Still bitter over Republicans refusal to consider Obamas judicial nominee, Merrick Garland, last year, Democrats are now in a position to use the same tactics against Trumps choice for the countrys highest court.

Since the death of Scalia, the eight-member court has steered clear of some major issues. Split between conservatives and liberals, it would sway back to the right if as expected Trump makes a conservative choice. Environmental regulation, union rights and healthcare could all be in the balance.

Jeff Hauser, director of Revolving Door Project, described comparings with the controversial 1991 hearing which insured the nominee accused of sexual harassment. “Its going to be” the biggest nomination battle since Clarence Thomas and thats if the nominee comes through the door scrubbed and clean as is practicable, he said

Given the bad blood between the parties, the protests , the growing resistance to Trump, were going to see more activism, more money spent around this nomination. Records are going to be to be prepared by every metric.

The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, has vowed to fight tooth and nail to keep the vacancy open if Trump nominates a justice who is considered outside the mainstream.

Polarisation has intensified since Trumps executive order, signed on Friday, that denies refugees, immigrants and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries entry to the US, indefinitely shuts US perimeters to refugees fleeing the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and prioritises refugee claims on the basis of religious-based persecution, a rule widely interpreted as being intended to favour Christians.

Paul Ryan, the House speaker, defended the move but conceded that it could have been better enforced. The chairwoman has a responsibility to the security of this country, he told reporters. Its regrettable that there was embarrassment on the rollout of this. No one wanted to see people with green cards or special immigrant visas, like translators, get caught up in all of this.

The Republican said he spoke at length with US homeland security secretary, John Kelly, and was confident that he is, on a going forward basis, going to make sure that things are done correctly.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Kelly also devoted full backing to Trump, insisting this is a temporary pause to allow a better review the refugee vetting system. This is not, I recur , not a ban on Muslims, he said.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Republican senators return to work on healthcare bill amid resistance

At least one Republican senator predicted a consensus was still several more weeks away, and few senators have been willing to defend the bill publicly

Republican senators left Washington more than a week ago without voting time a long-promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act or their unpopular plan to replace it. The GOP lawmakers return on Monday with the daunting task of crafting a bill still very much in front of them, amid swirling doubts concerning the prospect of finding a solution any time soon.

My view is its probably going to be dead, Arizona senator John McCain told CBS on Sunday. I fear that its going to fail.

A vote is unlikely to take place this week, with at the least one Republican senator predicting that his colleagues are still several more weeks away from reaching a consensus on a healthcare replacement. Last week at a town hall, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell compared the process of negotiating healthcare reform with intransigent Republican senators to solving a Rubiks cube.

Im in the position of a guy with a Rubiks cube, trying to spin the dial in such a way to get at least 50 each member of my conference who can agree to a version of repealing and replacing Obamacare, McConnell said. That is a very timely subject that Im grappling with as we speak.

Republicans were not meant to still be grappling with healthcare over the Fourth of July recess. When Trump took office and the GOP kept control of Congress, they laid out an ambitious agenda that included repealing Obamacare as early as January and then moving on to taxation reform and infrastructure.

But intransigent Republican opposition and a groundswell of political activism following the completion of Trumps election derailed that timeline. Now its summertime and with merely a handful of running weeks left before the August recess, the Senate Republican leadership is still searching furiously for 50 votes, a tally that would only push them over the finishing line with a casting vote from the vicepresident, Mike Pence.

The clearest sign of Republican resistance to the bill was how few senators were willing to defend the bill publicly. During the Fourth of July recess politicians typically relish the opportunity to march in patriotic parades and clasp hands with constituents. But this year those appearances were scarce.

And the few Republican senators who made public appearances were met with protests and pleas from constituents concerned about the Republican healthcare plan.

Susan
Susan Collins. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/ AP

At a parade in Eastport, Maine, Susan Collins, whose opposition to an initial draft of the healthcare law helped delay the vote, said her constituents were singularly focused on healthcare.

There was only one issue. Thats unusual. Its usually a wide range of issues, Collins told the Washington Post. I heard, over and over again, encouragement for my stand against the present version of the Senate and House healthcare bills. People were thanking me, over and over again. Thank you, Susan! Stay strong, Susan!

Where a Republican senator refused to hold a town hall, voters stimulated their views known. Tens of thousands of liberal activists and concerned constituents turned out for dozens of rallies across the country to recommend their senators to vote no on the healthcare bill. Some groups coordinated protests and staged sit-ins at senators offices, and in Columbus, Rob Portmans constituents held a cookout.

As initially drafted, the Republican healthcare plan would repeal major pieces of the ACA, including the mandate that all Americans buy health insurance or face a penalty. It would also build deep cuts to Medicaid, a joint state-federal public health program for low-income Americans, compared with spending under the current law.

An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office( CBO) estimated that 22 million people would lose healthcare over the next decade for the purposes of the Republican healthcare plan. In a new report that assessed the plans impact over two decades, the agency estimated that spending on Medicaid under the replacement scheme would be 35% lower by 2036 than under current law.

McConnell has introduced a number of changes, including adding $45 bn to combat the opioid outbreak. Also under consideration is a compromise amendment by Ted Cruz, the conservative Texas senator who opposed the bill because it did not go far enough in repealing Obamacare.

Under the Cruz proposal, insurance companies could sell non-AC-Acompliant healthcare plans as long as they also offered at least one that fulfilled the laws mandates, including coverage for maternity care, mental health treatment and prescription drugs. Though the proposal is gaining traction among conservatives, healthcare experts on both sides of the political debate believe the measure would likely result in prohibitively high costs for comprehensive schemes, which sicker Americans would need.

McConnell sent an update, including the Cruz amendment, of the healthcare plan to the agency, and a new report is expected this week. The CBO is expected to release another analysis sometime next week, a likely indicator that Senate Republican will not vote on the scheme until later this month.

I think we are making steady progress, Cruz told ABC on Sunday. The conversations have been coordinated and in good faith.

If Republicans fail to reach an agreement on a replacing scheme, McConnell said he would work with Democrats to stabilize the insurance markets.

No action is not an alternative, McConnell told constituents at a Rotary Club lunch on Thursday, in agreement with the Associated Press. Weve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country, including in this state.

But Cruz said he agreed with a proposal by Trump seen as unhelpful and unrealistic by many Republican that the GOP should try to repeal Obamacare without concurring a replacing if the Senate bill fails.

If we cant get this done right now, I agree with the president, then lets honor the promise on repeal and expend more time to get it done, Cruz said on Sunday.

I believe we can get it done.

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Read more: www.theguardian.com

Senate Republicans admit defeat in latest effort to repeal Affordable Care Act

Senate leaders admitted they did not have the votes to pass a bill, hours after Trump railed against certain so-called Republicans for refusing to vote for it

The latest Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act died on Tuesday as it became obvious they did not have the votes to pass a bill that would leave millions without health insurance.

The admission of defeat received from Senate leader Mitch McConnell and the sponsors of the bill after party debates over lunch on Capitol hill left them in no doubt their slim majority could not survive a revolt.

Republicans were at least one vote short in their effort to repeal Obama’s signature domestic policy accomplishment and were running out of time to force-out the bill through this week before a key procedural deadline.

They confessed defeat on one of their central promises of the past several decades, hours after Donald Trump was left railing against” certain so-called Republican” refusing to vote for the latest bill.

” To be clear, through events that are under our control and not under our control, we don’t have the votes ,” said Louisiana senator Bill Cassidy, one of the authors of the measure.” We’ve attained the decision since we don’t have the votes, we will defer that election. Am I frustrated? Utterly .”

At a press conference after lunch, the bill’s writers insisted that Republicans supported the substance of their proposal, which would direct billions of dollars under the healthcare law to states in the form of block awards, transferring sweeping new discretion over how to deliver healthcare.

” Patience is a virtue ,” co-author Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, said.” Time is actually on our side. The elections “were in” absence were actually more about process than substance. We can fix the process and we can improve the substance, so that’s why I’m optimistic .”

Addressing conservative voters and donors who helped revive the repeal effort after it failed in a dramatic fashion in July, Graham pledged Republican still had the “fight” left to ensure the law is replaced.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota, a is part of Republican leadership, said he expected voters would be frustrated.” I don’t blame them ,” Thune said.” They have to hold us accountable and we made a commitment. I hope they’ll have a little bit of patience .”

Lindsey
Lindsey Graham with John Barrasso, Bill Cassidy John Cornyn and Mitch McConnell. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/ Reuters

On Tuesday, McConnell opened debate in the Senate by assailing the ACA, widely known as Obamacare, but offered no guidance on whether he would hold a election or not. Hours afterwards, he admitted defeat. Later that afternoon, McConnell made clear his caucus was moving on to other legislative priorities.

” We haven’t given up on changing the American healthcare system. We are not going to do that this week but it still lies ahead of us ,” McConnell said.” We do think it’s time to turn to our twin priority: reforming the tax code. We’ve reached significant agreements inside the budget committee to go forward and I’m optimistic that we’ll achieve that .”

Trump has been frustrated by Republican’ repeated failings on healthcare and has expressed displeasure with the senators who have stood in the way of repeal measures.

Asked on Tuesday if he would demand Republican leadership hold a vote on the healthcare bill, Trump replied:” We’ll see what happens .”

He told:” It’s going along and at some phase, there will be a repeal and replace. But we’ll see whether that point is now or whether it will be shortly thereafter. But we are disappointed in certain so-called Republicans .”

His frustration came after the very public opposition of Susan Collins, Rand Paul and John McCain, who made clear they would vote no. That would be enough to sink the bill given the Republican’ narrow 52 -4 8 majority in the Senate.

On Monday, Collins announced her opponent moments after the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office published an analysis that find millions of Americans would lose their health insurance if the bill became law.

During a televised debate on healthcare on Monday night, Cassidy and Graham recognise the setbacks but vowed is to promote with their bill.

” We are going to press on ,” Graham said during the CNN debate.” It’s OK to vote. It’s OK to fall short, if you do, for an idea that you believe in .”

For seven years, Republican have won elections on the promise to repeal the healthcare statute and replace it with a conservative scheme that removes decision-making power from the federal government. Repealing the ACA was also a central thrust of Trump’s campaign, though his fickle expectations for its replacing have complicated Republican attempts to repeal the law.

To overhaul the healthcare system on a party-line election, Republican want to use a process called ” reconciliation” that allows lawmakers to pass bills affecting taxes and spending with a simple majority. But the reconciliation process is time-bound, tied to a budget resolution Congress passed earlier this year, which ends on 30 September.

The analysis followed a frantic try by the bill’s writers to win over reluctant senators, rewriting the bill to deliver more federal funds to countries where the senators were undecided, such as Alaska and Maine.

While Paul opposed the measure because he believed it did not go far enough in repealing the ACA, Collins and McCain, two of the three senators who derailed a repeal try in July, lamented a rushed process and exhorted a return to” regular order”, which includes public hearings and a full CBO analysis.

Reacting to the news, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said Americans would” exhale a sigh of relief” and praised the voters and activists who quickly mobilized against the bill.

” Our colleagues got no choice, in the face of opposition from one end of the land to the other, to withdraw their bill ,” Schumer told.” Now we hope that Republicans don’t come back to this bill. It will meet the same fate that it did this time because the people didn’t like it .”

Schumer recommended Republicans to resume the bipartisan negotiations over ways to stabilize the insurance markets.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Congress returns to face daunting undertakings: avoid a shutdown and an angry Trump

The House and Senate have only days to forestall a government shutdown, while also coping with a chairman impatient to assert victories in his first 100 days

After two weeks away, the 535 members of Congress return to Washington this week facing a critical deadline: they have five days to keep the government from shutting down, on the 100 -day milestone of Donald Trumps presidency.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, Democrats and Republicans are united in their determination to keep the suns on. But its unclear how they will navigate the vying interests of their parties and the White House to find a solution that the three sides can support.

Meanwhile, the president has expressed pained awareness of the first 100 -day mark, used as a benchmark since the first term of Franklin D Roosevelt. On Friday Trump rejected the 100 days as a ridiculous standard which could be used to judge a presidents accomplishments, and predicted that the media wouldnt give him the credit he deems himself owed.

Barring dramatic action, Trump will pass the 100 -day mark next Saturday without a major legislative victory and with a conspicuous failure to guide his party to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. White House officials have reportedly pressed Republicans to vote on the healthcare statute next week.

If the threat of a shutdown and a battle over healthcare werent enough to eat lawmakers time in a dizzying week, Trump also announced that he were planning to unveil his tax reform plan on Wednesday.

Healthcare

Although Republican failed to secure support last month for a replacement scheme proposed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, healthcare is back on the orders of the day at the White Houses urging.

Speaking from London on Wednesday, Ryan said his party was in the midst of negotiating sort of finishing touch on a compromise that would bridge the ideological divide within his party, which controls the Senate and the House.

Over the two-week recess, conservatives and moderates came together to hammer out an amendment to Ryans deeply unpopular plan. The proposal, according to a one-page white paperobtained by Politico, would give states the option to opt out of key provisions, including protections for sick people with pre-existing conditions.

The amendment would keep the ACA requirement that insurance plans must cover 10 essential health benefits, such as maternity care and prescription drugs. But states could apply to waive those provisions if they could fulfill certain terms.

While the negotiations played out, Republican lawmakers faced constituents angry about the first replacement and determined to save the ACA at town halls across the country.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Treasury secretary exhorts Senate to pass Puerto Rico bill before next debt default

Jack Lew alerts debt crisis in US territory will ratchet up if it defaults on$ 2bn pay on Friday as Senate expected to vote on bill afterward this week

The US Senate must take immediate action to address Puerto Ricos $70 bn indebtednes crisis, Treasury secretary Jack Lew said on Monday, days before the near bankrupt territory looks set to default on its debts once more.

In a letter addressed to Senate leadership, Lew called on Congress to pass a bill addressing the issue before the US territory defaults on a$ 2bn debt pay this Friday.

On 1 July only four days from now the crisis in Puerto Rico will ratchet up to an even higher level. Puerto Rico has$ 2bn in debt payments coming due that day, including payments on constitutionally prioritized indebtednes on which Puerto Rico has not previously defaulted, Lew wrote.

He pointed out that the US House of Representatives already passed a bill earlier this month on 9 June that would devote Puerto Rico the tools to recover without any federal spending and exhorted the Senate to vote on it immediately. The Senate is expected to vote on the matter this week before leaving for the 4 July holiday. If the Senate passes the bill but amends it, the House will have to vote on it again next week when it is back in conference, which could be too late for Puerto Rico.

I urge Republicans and Democrat to come together in the Senate as you have before to help our fellow citizens, and get a bipartisan bill to the Chairmen desk before 1 July, Lew pleaded with the US Senate.

Others warned of what might happen if the bill did not pass before the end of the week.

If legislation doesnt pass before 1 July, we are opening the door for vulture funds to exploit Puerto Rico , noted Eric LeCompte, a United Nation indebtednes expert and the executive director of the religion development coalition Jubilee USA. Up to now weve insured very little predatory behavior, but if Puerto Rico defaults without protections, the vultures will swoop in.

Last week Lew met with Senate Democrat urging them to pass the bill , noting that Puerto Rico could not wait any longer. That same day, a group of bondholders filed a suit against Puerto Ricos government as indebtednes negotiations fell apart.

Puerto Ricos governor, Alejandro Garca Padilla, also visited Washington last week to make a example for a quick passageway of the bill.

We need the bill by 1 July. We need the bill yesterday, Garca Padilla said on Thursday. He added that even if he were to shut down the government, a July default would not be averted.

We dont have the money for the payroll, the medical system and the healthcare system and to pay our indebtedness. If I shut down the government on 1 July, I still dont have enough fund to pay, he said. Its merely a reality. We do not have the money. Thats why weve been saying that we will default on 1 July.

In his letter to the Senate, Lew warned that in case of the default or a successful creditor suit, Puerto Rico could be forced to pay creditors instead of using funds on health, education and public safety, which could result in laying off police and shutting down hospitals and public transportation.

The legislation offer critical breathing space, said LeCompte. Before Puerto Ricos next default, it needs the protection of this legislation. The bill in front of the Senate permits Puerto Rico to pay pensions and social services before it pays the debt.

Last week, when the Federal Reserve chair, Janet Yellen, testified before the US Senate, US lawmakers attempted to find out if the Fed would step in at the last minute and provide Puerto Rico organizations with emergency loans as a last resort.

I guess our authority is extremely limited. It would not is suitable for us to give loans to Puerto Rico. We have very limited authority to buy municipal debt and the authority we have, if we were to buy the eligible indebtednes, I dont think it would be helpful to Puerto Rico, Yellen told them, before flinging the ball back in their court by saying: This is inherently a matter for Congress and is not something that is appropriate for the Federal Reserve.

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