Six establishment Senate Republicans flip-flopped on their pledge to repeal Obamacare on Wednesday.
Senate Republicans shot down Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) clean Obamacare repeal bill. Paul’s bill, the “Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017,” failed 45-55.
Seven moderate Republicans voted against the clean Obamacare repeal bill in the Senate.
Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John McCain (R-AZ), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Susan Collins (R-ME) voted against Sen. Paul’s clean Obamacare repeal bill. All of these senators except for Sen. Collins voted to rescind Obamacare in 2015.
Conservative activists previously branded Sens. Murkowski, Portman, and Capito “traitors” for betraying their promise to the American people to repeal Obamacare.
Conservative activist groups Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks urged Republican senators to vote for Sen. Paul’s clean Obamacare repeal bill. Ken Cuccinelli of the Senate Conservative Fund recently suggested that his group might primary faux-Republicans such as Capito, Portman, and Murkowski.
Senator Paul wrote in an exclusive op-ed for Breitbart News, “That’s a good question. I say yes, but I tell you this – it’s hard to say yes if we can’t do something as simple as keeping our word. As simple as voting today how we voted before when we were asking to be in charge. If you tell people you’re going to do something, do it. It’s just that simple. Let’s repeal Obamacare.”
After his bill failed, Sen. Paul argued, “It’s a victory for conservatives that we did get a vote for a clean repeal.”
Not only have these six senators voted to repeal Obamacare, they publicly pledged to do so on the campaign trail and in the halls of the Senate. Here are six times these senators promised to repeal Obamacare:
- Lamar Alexander, “The wisest course is to repeal Obamacare and replace it step by step with solutions that lower health care costs.”
- Shelley Moore Capito, “I have consistently voted to repeal and replace this disastrous health care law, and I am glad that a repeal bill will finally reach the president’s desk.”
- Dean Heller,“This DC bureaucrat-driven healthcare system will only result in limited health care choices and higher costs for Nevadans.”
- Lisa Murkowski, “This law is not affordable for anyone in Alaska. That is why I will support the bill that repeals the ACA and wipes out its harmful impacts. I can’t watch premiums for Alaskans shoot up by 30 percent or more each year, see businesses artificially constrained, or see the quality of public education decline.”
- John McCain, “It is clear that any serious attempt to improve our health care system must begin with a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and I will continue fighting on behalf of the people of Arizona to achieve it.”
- Rob Portman, “I’m for repealing this broken law and replacing it with something better that gives patients more choice, decreases costs and increases access to quality, affordable care.”
FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon called out the Senate’s six hypocrites. Brandon charged, “Our activists have fought for the better part of a decade, led on by campaign promises and actual votes to repeal Obamacare, to get Republican majorities in the House and Senate, as well as a Republican in the White House. Sens. Dean Heller, Lisa Murkowski, John McCain, Rob Portman, Shelley Moore Capito, and Lamar Alexander each voted for the very same bill in 2015. We now know that these six senators are Obamacare repeal frauds. Even though we’re still wondering if Sen. Susan Collins is in the right party, at least she was consistent with her vote.”
Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin said that the seven senators who voted against the clean Obamacare bill broke the biggest political promise in history. She said:
Today, seven Republican Senators betrayed their constituents and the American people by breaking what is arguably the biggest political promise in modern American politics, and refusing to vote to repeal Obamacare. For the last four election cycles, Republican candidates have promised to repeal Barack Obama’s signature legislation and as a result, have increasingly been granted more power in Washington by the American people. Now, Republicans are completely in charge and should find it easy to keep this critical promise that lifted them to power. However, Senators Capito, Heller, McCain, Portman, Alexander, and Murkowski should be ashamed for having flip-flopped and voting against repealing Obamacare, just 18 months after they voted to send virtually the same exact legislation to President Barack Obama’s desk. And the seventh, Susan Collins, seems more concerned with critiquing the looks of House members or the sanity of the president than providing relief to the American people from rising costs and deteriorating quality of care under Obamacare. This is precisely the reason President Trump was elected. It is precisely the reason Congress has an approval rating worse than cockroaches. And it is precisely why the American people voted to drain the swamp in 2016. Tea Party Patriots will never give up the fight to fully repeal Obamacare and restore health care freedom to the American people. We call on President Trump to take action to end the congressional exemption from Obamacare so that senators, their families, and theirs staffs are forced to experience the same hardships that they refuse to lift from the American people. Perhaps if they were forced to live under the law that was unfavorably imposed on the American people, they will finally have the motivation to repeal Obamacare once and for all.
Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning issued a statement condemning the six moderate senators who voted to repeal Obamacare in 2015 but have reneged on their promise to the American people. Manning declared
It is sad to see six Republican Senators, John McCain, Shelley Moore Capito, Dean Heller, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman and Lamar Alexander who voted in 2015 to repeal most of Obamacare have now decided to change their votes when it actually mattered and there’s a president in the White House who wanted to sign the bill. This betrayal of their constituents’ trust threatens to leave the failed Obamacare system in place.
This is outright fraud. These senators have repeatedly lied to the American people about where they stood on one of the signature issues facing the nation.
Obamacare has failed. Premiums are higher than ever and the options on insurance marketplaces are dwindling. In the meantime, the employer mandates still create a disincentive against hiring full-time employees and Medicaid expansion is bankrupting state budgets.
Manning concluded, “The American people have become all too accustomed to politicians who say one thing and do another. The Senate Six have proven that the public’s cynicism about politicians is well-placed, for if they had just kept word, Obamacare would be history. The days ahead will prove whether the GOP majority in the Senate is able to keep their election promises. If they fail, fantasies of a 60-vote Republican Senate will be replaced by fears of a Democrat majority.”
Trump: Sessions should have told me about recusal, ‘I would have picked somebody else’
President Trump criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an interview Wednesday for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, calling the move “very unfair to the president” and expressing regret that he nominated Mr. Sessions.
In an interview with The New York Times, the president said Mr. Sessions’ decision in March led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, a development that Mr. Trump said shouldn’t have happened.
“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Sessions recused himself from overseeing any investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia, saying it was improper in part because he helped on the campaign, and because he neglected to disclose at his Senate confirmation hearing that he had met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice during the campaign.
More than four months after Mr. Sessions’ recusal, Mr. Trump showed he is still frustrated by the decision of one of his earliest campaign supporters.
“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” Mr. Trump told the Times. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”
The president also blamed Mr. Sessions for his testimony during the Senate confirmation hearing for overlooking his meetings with Mr. Kislyak.
“Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers,” the president said. “He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t.”
Asked if Mr. Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded beyond Russia to look at Mr. Trump’s family’s finances, the president said, “I would say yes. I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.”
He also said he doesn’t think he is being investigated for potential obstruction of justice for firing FBI Director James B. Comey.
“I don’t think we’re under investigation,” he said. “I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Trump to stop CIA arming rebels in Syria: Report
President Trump has decided to end a CIA program to arm rebels in Syria, according to a new report.
U.S. support for rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad was a bipartisan, if controversial, plank of American policy in the country as recently as last fall. Former President Barack Obama began the shipments in 2013 and a GOP-led Congress eased restrictions on the program in 2016. But Russia and Turkey, a NATO ally, have accused the United States of backing terrorist groups.
“Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests,” according to the Washington Post, which first reported the move. “The shuttering of the program is also an acknowledgment of Washington’s limited leverage and desire to remove Assad from power.”
Russia has denounced U.S. support for the rebel groups throughout the civil war, accusing the U.S. of commiting a “hostile act” and claiming that the Obama team was trying to block a Trump-led rapprochement with Russia.
“Overall, it appears that the Authorization Act has been adopted by the outgoing Obama administration…to create problems for the incoming Trump administration and complicate its relations on the international stage, as well as to force it to adopt an anti-Russia policy,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in December. “We hope the new administration will be more sagacious.”
Trump’s decision to end might irritate the lawmakers who voted for the 2016 defense bill, however. Senate Intelligence Committee member James Lankford, R-Okla., for instance, recently praised U.S. intelligence efforts in Syria, albeit without naming any specific covert programs.
“The past few days of travel in the Middle East were another reminder that the United States of America has the best military and intelligence professionals in the world,” Lankford said in May. “We must work with allies in the region to destroy terrorist groups before they can bring additional terrorist strikes on Americans.”
The revelation follows a pair of meetings between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. The first meeting coincided with the announcement of a cease-fire in southern Syria, brokered by the U.S., Russia, and Jordan. The details of the second meeting, which was not announced publicly by the White House, are unknown; the presidents were attended only by a Russian translator. The decision predated the meeting, however.
“It’s probably a nod to reality,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former Obama administration official, noting how Russia and Assad have a strong position in Syria.
Relatively moderate rebel groups and Kurdish fighters have been the main U.S. proxies in the fight against ISIS and to prevent Russia and Iran from controlling critical swathes of Syrian territory that could be used to threaten Israel.
“This is a force that we can’t afford to completely abandon,” Goldenberg told the Post. “If they are ending the aid to the rebels altogether, then that is a huge strategic mistake.”
ctress Rosie O’Donnell certainly knows how to push conservatives’ buttons. And now she is drawing their ire by pushing her own button: one that makes President Trump jump off a cliff.
“Push Trump Off A Cliff Again,” O’Donnell tweeted Saturday in an apparent play on Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. The tweet links to a game in which the player can, as O’Donnell says, make the president jump off a cliff, again and again.
Conservatives expressed outrage as O’Donnell’s weekend tweet came to their attention.
Sean Hannity’s blog referred to the game as “gross” and “sick.”
“Sadly, violence has become an acceptable form of dissent for liberals these days,” said a post on Young Conservatives.
Obama’s Iran deal lives on – but its days are numbered
Iran-deal supporters rejoice: President Trump is signaling that his predecessor’s signature foreign-policy legacy is unassailable.
Or is he?
The Trump administration reported to Congress on Monday that Tehran is complying with the pact, just as it did back in April. Why? Two years ago, Congress passed legislation requiring the secretary of state to announce every 90 days whether he or she can say with certainty that Iran is complying.
Under President Barack Obama, certification was automatic. But Trump repeatedly promised on the campaign trail to “rip up” the deal, calling it a “disaster.”
Yet as the deal marks its two-year anniversary, Trump has for the second time certified Iranian compliance, thereby blocking Congress from imposing nuclear-related sanctions. The administration can’t start renegotiating, or telling allies it’s time to “snap back” to those international sanctions the Iran deal erased.
So the deal lives — temporarily.
According to numerous press reports, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis won an internal debate against Special Adviser Steve Bannon, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Trump. The latter group wanted — at the least — to say they can’t certify Iranian compliance, putting the deal in limbo and opening Iran up to nuclear sanctions without quite tearing up the whole thing.
The winning camp advised caution, reasoning that while Iran is certainly violating the deal’s spirit, it abides by its letter and raising fears of a clash with our global allies. In the end, while certifying compliance, the administration announced new sanctions on Iran for various non-nuclear offenses.
Both sides in the internal debate are right, says the Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano, who has advised Trump on world affairs during the transition period.
As Trump says, it’s a “bad deal,” Carafano told me. Yet the administration is yet to devise a “full regional strategy” to replace it. And yes, “our friends and allies clearly need to see where we’re going.”
The administration, indeed, is said to be working on an Iran policy “review” that’s due to be completed this summer. Afterwards, in three months — or six, or nine — it may well start to paint Iran’s deal violations in darker colors.
And those “marginal” violations, as they’ve been so far described, are numerous. Iran has habitually produced more uranium and heavy water than the deal allows. It has procured dual-use materiel and tested nuclear-capable missiles.
Meanwhile, Iran continues its aggressive behavior, attacking US ships in international waters and holding Americans hostage. It helps fuel regional wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen and arms and bolsters Lebanese and Palestinian terrorists.
The reason the mullahs do all that with impunity is that we have few tools left to confront them. We gave them everything — unfrozen assets, sanctions relief — up front. All we asked in return was that they do their part — nuclear restrictions, periodic on-site inspections — during a dozen-year stretch.
So Iran could decide to just pocket those perks and walk away now, declaring that America is violating the deal. In fact, they’ve already started the process.
The smarmy Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told CNN on Sunday that Trump is in “violation of not the spirit, but of the letter” of the deal. As the extreme anti-American wing of the all-powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps gains confidence, it may well force a collapse of the deal it’s been opposed to from the outset.
Problem is, some of our allies, and certainly China and Russia, may well buy the argument that America is at fault for the collapse.
Either way, far from the unassailable piece of state craftsmanship that the deal is widely advertised to be, Monday’s qualified certification indicates that its shaky foundations are beginning to crumble.
If so — and considering that, internal debates aside, the Trump administration is full of Iran hawks — Washington better soon start moving away from the Iran deal. It’s best we, not the mullahs or their global allies, control the process of its demise.