The BCRA and the Repeal Bill aren’t dead yet, though that might not make a difference

Okay so maybe I spoke too soon. 

Currently the Republican senate (seeing as they still refuse to cooperate with the Democrats, who still refuse to cooperate with the Republicans so long as repeal is on the table) is moving forward with two bills (technically four), the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA 2.0 with the Cruz Amendment) and its subsidiaries (the original, and 2.0 without the Cruz Amendment), and the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (ORRA), both (all) of which lack the votes necessary to pass. This is especially true with John McCain’s recent diagnosis of brain cancer, leaving it in doubt whether he will be returning to the Senate for next weeks session or beyond.

As such it must be noted that for each bill Republicans can only afford to lose one senator, and each bill currently has at least three guaranteed no votes – the BCRA has Senators Collin, Lee, Moran and Paul, with the ORRA has Senators Collin (again), Capito, Murkowski and possibly more, given the context of this particular piece.

To explain, the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act was passed and sent to the Oval Office before, this was just in 2015 when Obama was in office. Naturally it was vetoed as everyone expected, Obama was certainly never going to dismantle his signature legislation. The difference now is there’s a Republican President in office, which means now there are actually consequences if this bill passes. So naturally some people are skittish about a bill that would leave 32 Million people without healthcare actually passing.

So Trumpcare ain’t dead yet. Still there’s currently no real option regarding the healthcare situation, certainly none with any real chance of passing right now, so there’s every chance that these bills (one of them anyway) may be sent to the senate floor simply to die.


Vox: A guide to the Healthcare Bill

BCRA is dead, and it looks like the repeal bill will fail too

So, yesterday in addition to the earlier holdout Senators Collins and Paul, two additional Senators, Lee (the arch-conservative) and Moran from Kansas, detailed their opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act and sunk the Bill. Accordingly Trump and McConnell responded with plans to issue the 2015 repeal bill that then-president Obama vetoed and simply get rid of Obamacare altogether. Ignoring the fact that removing a sweeping healthcare bill with facets involving Tax law, Medicare, Insurance and subsequent regulations and individual state laws is simply too difficult to be realistically passed, it looks like said bill will simply fail as well.

Well McConnell, this is what happens when you don’t include the women in your caucus into your little legislative tea party.

Yes, the three Senators who have immediately signaled their opposition to the 2015 repeal bill are Senators Collin (of Maine), Capito (of West Virginia) and Murkowski (of Alaska). And all three were also not included in the crafting of the bill, you know the one that went out of its way to defund Planned Parenthood for a year, massively reduce the numbers of insured citizens and repealed the Medicare Expansion that all of their states used. Cause reasons.

So, the BCRA is dead, Repeal is dead, and now Trump is saying he’ll simply let Obamacare fail, and he will somehow not be blamed for it. Just Price (his health secretary) for sabotaging it, McConnell for not repealing and replacing it, anybody involved in the crafting of the one bill that tried like his Vice President Pence. Oh, and yes Trump, because of course he would be blamed for letting and encouraging it to fail. 

Honestly I imagine most republicans are glad that this is done now. Maybe now they can move onto taxes? Surely that’ll end well. (heh)



The Atlantic: McConnell Calls for Repeal Vote
Vox: The Ladies Have It

Senate bill Currently DOA

It ain’t looking good for McConnell. 

With Senator McCain currently recovering from surgery in Arizona (an eye clot above his eye was removed) there are currently (at best) 49 senate votes to debate on the current Bill. Which means that the bill wouldn’t even get a basic debate before being abandoned.

Further, Senators Collin and Paul remain firmly against the current state of the bill, with Collins estimating “between eight and ten” senators being unwilling to vote for it in its current form, she said on ABC’s “This Week”. How accurate that is I’m not sure, but regardless McConnell has pushed back the vote again in light of McCain’s recovery time.

At this stage it is looking increasingly unlikely the bills gonna go anywhere, to the point that Michael Needham, President of the Conservative Heritage Action for America, estimated only 20 senators were actually willing to vote for the bill, and that the Republican party was not serious about repeal. Personally I think they weren’t serious about repeal and replace, but at this stage that’s splitting hairs.

I’m not sure how McConnell will work his way out of this one, but I’m still not about to count him out; he still has that $200 Billion to work with (or whats left of it)


Politco: Senate Healthcare Bill Stalled

Trumps Bastille Day

Presidents Trump and Macron appeared to be in good spirits during the Bastille day parades, appearing to attempt a reset of the French and american relationships that had been troubled in the wake of their previous meeting. Given the aftermath of that was Trumps departure from the Paris Accord, god knows where this will end.

Still if the attempt on Macrons part was to reestablish the relationship between the two nations it appears to have succeeded, and given his preoccupation with military advancement within Europe and NATO, there’s a fair chance there might be some cooperation down the line in Syria and beyond.

Wonder how the dinner went.

Politico: Macron and Trumps Mano-a-Mano becomes Tete-a-Tete

Senate bill Struggles

After returning from the July break perhaps Republicans were hoping, in the wake of Trump and his sons latest scandal, for a bit of breathing room in regards to the BCRA. Given the current resistance to the bill by nearly a dozen lawmakers, the sudden redrafting of the bill to produce two versions, one with the Cruz amendment and one without, and sending both to the CBO, and the current resistance to a debate (much less the actual vote) it’s safe to say that hope has been lost.

I would say there are two problems currently plaguing the Senate leadership: first the lack of transparency. Regardless of their reasoning, at no stage were any senators much less the voting public going to accept a bill they had not seen nor thoroughly vetted, not even on a party line basis. Expecting as much, especially in the face of what amounts to the entire history of the senate, was foolish and frankly I expected better from McConnell.

Secondly, the speed of the bills process, which is unprecedented and stupid. This can be traced to two things: firstly the expectation that a republican president would sign a repeal bill (which they already had) and leave any replacement either for later or for the states, allowing them to move swiftly to tax reform. When Trump won and then claimed that his bill would (functionally) be a repeal and replace bill, the party scrambled, knowing they had little time to move forward with their priorities and expecting something different.

Which is in turn the second point: Republicans don’t deal with healthcare. They focus on taxes and deregulation, and suddenly having to develop a replacement bill for a plan they loathed (or positioned themselves politically opposed to) with no knowledge or experienced hands to call on, and the need to work fast to move forward on their preferred legislation limited their options.

With no real experience to draw on, no willingness to lean on any conservative plans that weren’t hard right (as any external conservative healthcare plan is closer to the center than the ideologues are comfortable with) and the need to use the reconciliation rules to pass any bill on party lines,  has basically crippled any attempt to pass a repeal and replace bill.

There’s still a chance the bill could pass of course. But at this stage the options are fast closing, and I very much doubt republicans want their time as the legislative majority dominated by healthcare.


Politico: Senate Moderates Sidelined in New Repeal Bill

Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Signed

Yes, that’s the title of the newest draft treaty voted on by the General Assembly of the United Nations (which New Zealand voted for! Hah!). It was voted on Friday 7 June 2017 by a margin of 122-1, with the dissenting vote belonging to the Netherlands.

Now this doesn’t mean any of the Nuclear states actually voted or agreed to this treaty (they didn’t), nor does this mean any of them will actually follow the guidelines and expectations of the treaty. In fact they have publicly rebuked it, claiming

“We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it. Therefore, there will be no change in the legal obligations on our countries with respect to nuclear weapons.”

So that’s disappointing, if unsurprising.

Still what this represents is significant, if admittedly symbolic. All 122 nations involved have firmly claimed their position as fighting for a world free of Nuclear Weapons, and in turn rebuking nations such as the US, Russia, China, France and Britain of their failure to follow the laws and agreements they signed in regards to disarmament commitments. That all of these nations have collectively agreed to such a statement is significant, they represents a substantial part of the political and economic spheres, and while this will undoubtedly be ignored by said Nuclear powers, it remains a reaffirmation of many nations commitment to the end of Nuclear weapons.

This ban, which will be signed on September 20, 2017, may even be capable of having an impact on international law, or at least on the norms of the world in regards to Nuclear weapons, says International Human Rights Lawyer Bonnie Docherty. This in turn could impact international law, if further built upon.

So hey, nice to see some of us can get along huh?


United Nations documents: Draft Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Politico: UN signs Nuclear Prohibition treaty

Trump-Putin meeting summary

Well, that happened.

So, Trump and Putin met; it was apparently a quiet, closed meeting between them, Tillerson, his Russian counterpart Lavrov and two interpreters. It was interesting to say the least, from what little I know.

So, firstly the meeting itself lasted two hours, that’s one and a half longer than what was expected and prepared for, so clearly there was a long discussion. Secondly, both presidents came out with an agreement on a ceasefire in Syria, so some progress was actually made. Finally the diverging reports regarding the meeting ere presented by each party, Trumps side claiming they repeatedly pressed Putin on the election manipulations, Putin’s claiming Trump accepted his initial response with little comment. The differences aren’t surprising, the fact that neither side agreed to a script is. Normally both sides agree to a particular interpretation to give to the media, to coordinate on message. That this didn’t happen most likely reflects on the novices lack of awareness to certain facts, and Putin’s willingness to use that. Oh, and both sides agreed to a joint cyber security partnership.

That’ll end well. Or quickly, one or the other.

With regards to Ukraine, apparently (according to Lavrov) there was some common ground to work on, though how that’ll play out is anyone’s guess. Doubt even Tillerson knows at this point.

Wonder how long that Syria ceasefire will last?


The Atlantic: Trump Putin Meeting