With his first 100 days as president coming to a close tomorrow, President Trump faces yet another major defeat as his efforts to make good on a key campaign promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act once more are on hold. Congressional vote counters agree that, while it appears the conservative Freedom Caucus is on board with the revised plan, they have failed to secure enough moderates who can still support it. Presently, there are 15 moderate members of the party still balking at its terms and refusing to vote for it, with another 20 leaning no or still undecided.
Without a single Democrat in support, the revised Republican Healthcare bill can only afford to lose 22 GOP votes, and as of Thursday, 21 had come out against it. In a late-night huddle last night, House Speaker Paul Ryan and his lieutenants decided to delay a vote until next week.
Seven current and former U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed with Reuters the existence of two confidential documents obtained from a Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin. Those documents respectively reveal a plan to assist Donald Trump in winning the 2016 presidential election and a subsequent effort to undermine faith in the American electoral system.
Putin has long denied accusations of interference in the U.S. election, but the existence of these documents belies those denials.
Democrat John Ossoff very nearly pulled off a complete victory in Tuesday’s special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, besting his rivals with 48.1 percent of the vote, his nearest GOP competitor (Karen Handel) a distant second at 19.8 percent with all 210 precincts now reporting.
Still, Democrats had been hoping for an outright victory with more than 50 percent of the vote in order to avoid a run-off, a prospect that had grown more tantalizing and possible as Ossoff’s momentum grew with his popular anti-Trump messaging. Republicans were so concerned at this possibility that even the president began to weigh in via Twitter, taking more than a few swipes at Ossoff. “Just learned that Jon @Ossoff, who is running for Congress in Georgia, doesn't even live in the district,” Trump warned, “Republicans, get out and vote!”
North Carolina can’t leave well enough alone. Just days after announcing a “compromise” bill to end the effect of HB2, the controversial anti-LGBT law that drew ire and boycotts from everyone from the NCAA to major corporations, conservative lawmakers in Raleigh are proposing a new law that declares marriage to be limited to heterosexuals, according to a report by the Charlotte Observer. The proposal law lies in direct defiance of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Obergefell decision, which struck down such laws and granted same-sex couples the same marriage rights as heterosexual ones.
The bill, filed by four Republican members of the North Carolina House, would restore the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages as well as forbid civil unions. HB 780 is entitled the “Uphold Historical Marriage Act” and specifically states that the United States Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell that legalized same-sex marriage is “null and void in the State of North Carolina.” The bill quotes Bible passages, saying “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
United wasn’t having a great day. Two separate videos--one showing aviation security officials dragging a passenger out of his seat and down the aisle, and the other revealing him bleeding and disoriented after the ordeal--went viral on the Internet. As the social media clamor rose, United’s CEO issued a statement regretting the need to “re-accommodate” passengers, which served only to worsen the matter by adding tone-deafness to brutality as descriptors for the airline.
The incident left many wondering what legal recourse passengers actually have in such a circumstance. There are also some who are starting to wonder whether United acted within its legal rights at all. The Department of Transportation is now reviewing the entire incident, saying
President Trump is preparing to sign a new Executive Order today banning travel for a 90-day period from six countries, including Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iran and Libya but excluding Iraq, according to a fact sheet provided to Congress. Iraq apparently was removed after Pentagon and State Department officials expressed concern that keeping Iraq on list would undermine the fight against ISIS, which requires local coordination with Iraqi officials. The ban is effective March 16.
The prior Executive Order’s provision on refugees was also amended. The new order is far more expansive, putting a temporary halt on all refugees entering the United States for 120 days, rather than singling out Syrians. (The first order included a 120-day stoppage on all refugees except Syrians, who were indefinitely banned under its terms.) It also caps the total number of refugees admitted per year at 50,000, down from 120,000.
Much-reviled pharma-CEO, Martin Shkreli, has been ousted from his position as chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, according to the New York Times. A Turing spokesperson acknowledged Shkreli’s resignation following his arrest, after being charged with securities fraud and conspiracy.