Senate Sets Sights on ‘Skinny’ Repeal of Obamacare in Tuesday’s Voting

WASHINGTON — Tuesday’s Senate vote on health care will be a turning point in the GOP's long and difficult effort to fulfill their campaign promise to undo Obamacare but the final outcome appears likely to end up as a “skinny” repeal that disposes of just a few components of the Affordable Care Act.

The first key vote will take place at some point this afternoon to open debate on the health care measure. If that “motion to proceed” passes, the Senate will then move on to debate and vote on a variety of approaches to the bill, beginning with a vote on the 2015 version of the repeal of Obamacare, according to two Senate sources. That vote is expected to fail.

After that, the Senate will move on to a vote on the current replacement bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, with the addition of an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that allows the sale of catastrophic plans and an amendment by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, that would add $100 billion in additional spending on Medicaid.

But the BCRA amendment is likely to need 60 votes because neither the Cruz nor the Portman amendment have been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, meaning it’s likely to fail because it would need Democratic votes.

The plan after those two votes, according to sources, is for senators to proceed to votes on a series of amendments to create what leadership has called a “skinny” repeal with the goal of eliminating Obamacare's individual mandate penalty, employer mandate penalty and the tax on medical devices.

The Senate would then go to conference with the House of Representatives where they would work out a final bill. Both chambers would then have to vote on the reconciled bill.

Senator John McCain’s, R-Ariz., dramatic return to the Senate for the vote after having been recently diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, is sure to put more pressure on nervous Republicans who have been opposed or reluctant to commit to support the Republican plan.

The administration is predicting victory. Marc Short, who is Vice President Mike Pence’s top legislative affairs aide, said Tuesday morning that McCain will push the vote over the finish line.

“But whether he’s the 50th or the 51st vote, “ Short said on Fox Business News, “we’re excited to have him back.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced that he supports this plan and would vote 'yes' on the motion to proceed Tuesday.


Scaramucci to Tapper: 'I'll Bring Kleenex' Over to CNN When Trump Wins Re-Election

In a heated exchange between Anthony Scaramucci and CNN’s Jake Tapper during an interview on “State of the Union,” Sunday, the newly minted communications director called out the network for having no evidence of collusion despite the media’s fixation on the Russia investigations. 

Scaramucci called the Russia story a “bogus” and “nonsensical thing” and said the president isn’t going to have to pardon anyone.

Tapper responded by listing the investigations into the matter, including the FBI’s, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s, and the House Intelligence Committee’s. 

“None of that is manufactured, none of that,” Tapper said. 

“Have they found any evidence that the president or anybody in the campaign has colluded with the Russians, Jake?” Scaramucci asked.

“I don’t know,” Tapper admitted.

Scaramucci said the issue would be put to rest this week after White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort testified. 

Tapper also brought up Scaramucci’s past remarks disparaging Trump as a “hack politician.”

“If I said some things about him while I was working for another candidate, Mr. Trump, Mr. President, I apologize for that. Can we move on from that?” Scaramucci said.

“I’m going to be working for you, and I’m going to serve the American people and we’re going to get your agenda out into the heartland where it belongs and we’re going to turn this thing into a movement, a bigger movement than we have already,” he said. 

“I love how you’re talking to one specific viewer right now, the most important audience that there is,” Tapper responded sarcastically.

“He’s gonna win again, Jake,” Scaramucci said, adding, “I’ll bring a box of Kleenex over here to CNN.”

 “We don’t need Kleenex,” Tapper replied.


'Drain the Sewer' is Trump's re-branded campaign slogan

President Trump took to Twitter early Monday, proposing a change to one of his most-recognized campaign slogans.

“Drain the Swamp should be changed to Drain the Sewer — it’s actually much worse than anyone ever thought, and it begins with the Fake News!”

The president's tweet came soon after his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, released his statement ahead of his testimony before a congressional panel as part of its probe into Russian meddling and potential collusion with the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Kushner wrote in his prepared testimony that he "did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government."

"I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector," Kushner wrote, adding that he had tried to be "fully transparent" with regard to his security clearance form, which has been under scrutiny under recent weeks. Kushner acknowledged in his testimony that "there has been a good deal of misinformation reported" about his security clearance form, consistent with his father-in-law's "fake news” sentiment.

Kushner said in his testimony that Reuters reported that he had two calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak between April and November 2016.

"While I participated in thousands of calls during this period, I do not recall any such calls with the Russian ambassador. We have reviewed the phone records available to us and have not been able to identify any calls to any number we know to be associated with Ambassador Kislyak and I am highly skeptical these calls took place," Kushner wrote. 


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