Welcome to WHAT NOW, a morning round-up of the news/fresh horrors that await you today.
After two of his Republican senators effectively killed his chances of passing his healthcare bill, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled on Tuesday night that he’s ready to take the nuclear option: a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan in place.
Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran said they wouldn’t back the bill, joining Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky, and Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine. McConnell only had room for two defectors from his party, so Lee and Moran’s dissent doomed the measure.
But what comes next could be much, much worse. McConnell said in a statement that he would push forward with a vote to fully repeal Obamacare, with a two-year delay. It’s a move designed to put maximum pressure on the holdouts: the 2015 bill to repeal the Affordable Care act passed the Republican-controlled Senate 52-47, with Collins and then-Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) being the only votes against. Of course, Obama vetoed the repeal of his signature policy achievement.
So now Senate Republicans risk looking like massive hypocrites for throwing their support behind a meaningless, symbolic repeal vote two years ago but hesitating when they’re playing for keeps this time around. President Trump made his position clear during a Monday evening dinner with GOP senators, reportedly telling them they’d look like “dopes” if they couldn’t pass a repeal vote after 2015.
This is, of course, even worse for moderate Republicans, who are now faced with an objectively inferior reality than the repeal-and-replace legislation they opposed from the beginning.
Will it pass? Probably not. But then McConnell and co. will be able to gesture to their base that they tried all they could to get a healthcare bill passed, but, uh, the obstructionist Democrats just wouldn’t let them, before moving along to tax reform, which is also shaping up to be a potentially doomed venture.
UPDATE: July 18, 2017, 12:03 PM: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Collins have said they will not vote for McConnell’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act now, replace later. Losing one more Republican means the measure is dead on arrival.
Meanwhile, Moran jumped back on the GOP bandwagon, saying he would vote to repeal.
- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is reportedly planning to close the State Department office that focuses on war crimes, according to a report from Foreign Policy.
- Here’s one that will shock you: Trump bragged that no president has “passed more legislation” than he has. That’s actually not true!
- Among the scintillating anecdotes contained in Bloomberg correspondent Joshua Green’s new book on White House adviser and former Breitbart architect Steve Bannon: He apparently threatened to sic “Pepe,” the frog cartoon co-opted by the racist alt-right, on House Speaker Paul Ryan, according to Axios. He also called Ryan a “a limp-dick motherfucker who was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation,” according to Green’s book.