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John McCain: ‘I Cannot In Good Conscience Vote’ For The GOP Obamacare Repeal Bill

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He basically just killed Republicans’ effort to gut the Affordable Care Act. Again.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Friday that he doesn’t support the latest Obamacare repeal bill, all but ensuring Republicans’ last-ditch effort to gut the Affordable Care Act is dead in the water.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” McCain said in a statement.

“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” he said. “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full [Congressional Budget Office] score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.”

Since the entire Democratic caucus opposes the bill, dubbed Cassidy-Graham, Republican leaders can afford to lose only two GOP senators on it. McCain’s decision means the bill doesn’t appear to have the votes to pass. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has said he’s opposed to it, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has said she’s “leaning against” it. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who voted against the last repeal bill, has also raised concerns with this one. 

In a lengthy statement, McCain underscored that the process has been terrible and suggested he won’t support any repeal bill that wasn’t vetted through the usual rigorous, bipartisan debate. Republican leaders have been rushing to try to pass the bill ― any repeal bill, really ― because their ability to pass something with 51 votes (including Vice President Mike Pence’s tiebreaker) instead of 60 expires at the end of the month. 

“I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case,” he said. “Instead, the specter of September 30th budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process.”

He also nudged leadership to let the senators working on a bipartisan solution to health care continue their work. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have been holding hearings and trying to come up with a health care bill both parties can get behind, but GOP leaders effectively shut down their work to clear the path for the Cassidy-Graham bill.

“Senators Alexander and Murray have been negotiating in good faith to fix some of the problems with Obamacare,” said McCain. “But I fear that the prospect of one last attempt at a strictly Republican bill has left the impression that their efforts cannot succeed. I hope they will resume their work should this last attempt at a partisan solution fail.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) hailed McCain’s decision to move on from his party’s months-long repeal effort.

“John McCain shows the same courage in Congress that he showed when he was a naval aviator,” Schumer said in a statement. “I have assured Senator McCain that as soon as repeal is off the table, we Democrats are intent on resuming the bipartisan process.”

The Arizona senator’s announcement isn’t a total surprise. He helped bring down the GOP’s last repeal bill in a dramatic, late-night vote. But this time, his close friend Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is leading the charge on the legislation, and it was unclear if McCain was prepared to vote against his pal. McCain acknowledged that made his decision more difficult.

“I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition. Far from it,” he said. “The bill’s authors are my dear friends, and I think the world of them. I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs and sense of what is best for the country. So am I.”

Graham tweeted later that there’s no hard feelings.

One of the first people to praise McCain for his decision was late-night show host Jimmy Kimmel. He’s been tearing into the bill’s other author, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), all week for going back on his word about advocating a repeal bill that ensures pre-existing condition protections and lower costs. The Cassidy-Graham bill does neither.

“Thank you, @SenJohnMcCain for being a hero again and again and now AGAIN,” tweeted Kimmel.

 

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Obama Speaks Out On Trump Ending Dreamer Protections

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“This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated.”

Former President Barack Obama said Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s decision to dismantle the program protecting young undocumented immigrants was “contrary to our spirit, and to common sense.”  

Trump announced Tuesday that he will end Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, in six months. Unless Congress steps in, ending the program could put nearly 800,000 undocumented young people at risk of deportation and unable to work legally when their two-year permits expire.

Obama said it was a “political decision, and a moral question” ― and one of basic decency. 

“To target these young people is wrong ― because they have done nothing wrong,” he said in a statement. “It is self-defeating ― because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people ― and who we want to be.”

Obama started the program in 2012 and urged undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to come forward to the government, pay a fee and undergo a background check before receiving a two-year work permit and reprieve from deportation.

He did so after legislative efforts to help Dreamers ― which are being revived now because of Trump’s decisions ― failed multiple times, as he noted in his statement. 

″[B]ecause it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country,” Obama said.

Trump promised during his presidential campaign to immediately end DACA, but Obama urged him not to, both publicly and in private conversations. In his final press conference as president, Obama said he would speak out if Trump targeted Dreamers “who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them someplace else when they love this country; they are our kids’ friends and their classmates, and are now entering into community colleges or, in some cases, serving in our military.”

“The notion that we would just arbitrarily, or because of politics, punish those kids when they didn’t do anything wrong themselves I think would be something that would merit me speaking out,” Obama said at the time.

By ending DACA, Trump dismantled one of Obama’s most significant immigration policy achievements. Trump already dramatically reshaped immigration enforcement from how it was under Obama, who began his presidency with record deportation numbers before changing enforcement priorities to focus on certain undocumented immigrants over others.

Trump immediately eliminated those priorities as president and has detained and deported people whom Obama allowed to remain in the country if they checked in with the government or met other requirements. 

Trump said that Congress should act on Dreamers, although his statements were vague and the only legislation he mentioned specifically during his statement on DACA focused on limiting legal immigration, not actually undocumented immigrants. 

Obama said it was time for Congress to act as well.

“Now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future,” Obama said. “I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who served with Obama, similarly condemned Trump’s decision to end DACA. 

″[L]et’s be clear: throwing [Dreamers] out is cruel,” Biden said in a statement. “It is inhumane. And it is not America. Congress and the American people now have an obligation to step up and show our neighbors that they’re welcome here, in the only place they’ve ever called home.”

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Paul Ryan Says Trump Should Not End Protections For Dreamers

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The House speaker has tried to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program through Congress.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Friday that President Donald Trump should not terminate a program protecting young undocumented immigrants who come to the U.S. as children, even though he and other Republicans have repeatedly tried to end it in Congress.

“I actually don’t think he should do that,” Ryan said concerning reports that Trump will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which could be killed as early as Friday. “I believe that this is something that Congress has to fix.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday afternoon that Trump will announce a decision on DACA, which has allowed nearly 800,000 so-called “Dreamers” to receive two-year work permits and deportation reprieve, on Tuesday. Attorneys general from 10 states threatened the president with legal action if he doesn’t terminate the program by Sept. 5, and there were reports on Thursday and Friday that he plans to do so, although the White House has said it is still under review. 

Ryan is a longtime opponent of DACA. He said on Friday that President Barack Obama, who created the program in 2012, “did not have the legislative authority to do what he did” and that presidents cannot “write law out of thin air.”

“Having said all of that, there are people in limbo,” Ryan added. “These are kids that know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home, and so I really do believe there needs to be a legislative solution, that’s one that we’re working on.”

Trump vowed during his presidential campaign to end DACA, which he, like Ryan and other Republicans, has said is unconstitutional. If he followed through, current recipients would be unable to work legally and would be at risk of deportation. Although the Trump administration has said its focus is deporting criminals, it routinely detains other undocumented immigrants it encounters as well ― Dreamers among them. 

Ending the program would also put intense pressure on Republicans in Congress to pass legislation to protect Dreamers, which many of them have opposed in the past. Along with attempting to end DACA, Ryan voted in 2010 against the Dream Act, which would give a path to citizenship to Dreamers, and declined to hold a vote on comprehensive immigration reform. He, like Trump, has also stated general support for Dreamers and allowing them to remain in the country.

Other Republicans have also voiced support for maintaining DACA as Trump weighs ending the program. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), an original sponsor of the Dream Act in 2001 who opposed it in 2010, issued a statement on Friday saying he had urged Trump not to terminate DACA and would work on legislation to help Dreamers. 

Other Republicans have already backed legislation to give protections to Dreamers. Three Senate Republicans ― Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) ― are co-sponsors of the 2017 iteration of the Dream Act, which was also introduced in the House with support from two Republicans, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). 

Groups of Republicans have also pushed for the Bridge Act, which would be a stopgap measure to temporarily extend Dreamers’ protections until a longer-term solution could be reached. Coffman said Thursday that he would attempt to force a vote on the bill. 

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) recently introduced the Recognizing America’s Children, or RAC Act, which would create a path to citizenship to Dreamers but with more restrictions than the Dream Act. He has 18 co-sponsors, all of them Republicans, including Coffman and Ros-Lehtinen. 

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) reportedly plans to introduce a similar bill to the RAC Act. 

Republicans have previously said any legal status for undocumented immigrants must be coupled with other measures, such as increased border security and interior enforcement. Top White House officials reportedly were considering pushing for a deal that would give protections to Dreamers in exchange for border wall funding, slashing legal immigration and putting more requirements on employers to check immigration status of hires. 

Democrats have agreed in the past to tie enforcement and border security measures to legal status for undocumented immigrants, as they did in the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill. But they will only go so far. Leading Democrats immediately shot down the reported deal under consideration by White House officials, saying Dreamers should not be used as a bargaining chip.  

 

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