Caitlin MacNeal

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Articles by Caitlin

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that the Senate would not vote on a GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, delaying the process until after Congress’ July 4 recess so Senate Republicans can discuss “the differences that we have” on health care.

McConnell repeatedly stressed that it’s a complicated issue in an apparent attempt to frame it as no surprise that the Senate needed more time—even though GOP leadership insisted earlier this week that they would push ahead with a vote before July 4, which would have given the public and most Senate Republicans just a week to grapple with a draft of the legislation and mere days to digest a Congressional Budget Office report on it.

“We’re continuing to talk about it. It’s a very complicated subject,” he told reporters. “We’re still optimistic we’re going to get there.”

McConnell emphasized that it’s a “big, complicated subject,” noting that Democrats spent a great deal of time trying to reach consensus on Obamacare in 2009.

“They’re hard to pull together and hard to pass,” he said of bills addressing complex issues like health care.

McConnell said that Senate Republicans “have a number of different discussions going on” but did not detail what changes might be made to the legislation before leadership deems it ready for a vote.

The majority leader confirmed that the Republican caucus would head to the White House later Tuesday afternoon to meet with President Donald Trump. McConnell said that Trump has been involved in the process in the last week, and said that Trump’s involvement would be especially helpful as Republicans embark on a final push to secure enough votes for the bill’s passage.

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After Senate Republican leaders abruptly decided Tuesday to delay a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare until after the July 4 recess, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said that she has a hard time seeing what tweaks to the legislation would prompt her to back the bill.

“I will say that I have so many fundamental problems with the bill that have been confirmed by the CBO report that it’s difficult for me to see how any tinkering is going to satisfy my fundamental and deep concerns about the impact of the bill,” Collins told reporters.

Collins said that she would still attend a meeting of the Senate Republican caucus with President Donald Trump at the White House later Tuesday afternoon, despite her doubts that GOP leaders could persuade her to back the bill.

The senator announced Monday night that she could not support the bill as written. Opposition to the bill from Collins and several other senators cast doubt on the notion that Republicans had enough support to pass the bill this week.

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) on Tuesday indicated that side deals offered to skeptics of the Senate’s Obamacare repeal bill from Republican leaders would not be enough to make up for the legislation’s funding cuts to the health care system, particularly to the Medicaid program.

During a joint press conference with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in Washington, D.C., Kasich said that he told Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) that a “few billion” dollars for opioid addiction treatment in their state would be like “spitting in the ocean,” given the bill’s deep cuts to Medicaid.

The governor stressed that he sees the legislation’s main issue as a lack of resources.

“I think the bill is inadequate,” Kasich said at the National Press Club.

He said that while the Senate bill does have what he views as some good components, none of those improvements would help without sufficient funding. He said he was concerned about millions losing their health care coverage as a result of the bill, as well as the deep cuts to Medicaid and reduced funding for health insurance subsidies in the legislation.

“The problem is the resources have been significantly cut,” he said, noting that the Senate bill eliminates taxes imposed by Obamacare that provided more revenue for the health care system.

Kasich used the press conference to call on Democrats in the Senate to work with Republicans on a bill to fix issues with Obamacare.

“Today I would call on Democrat senators to hold a press conference and to state that they are willing to sit and work and constructively engage with Republicans in coming up with a sustainable solution,” he said. “If the Democrats don’t want to participate that way, shame on them, and they’re playing party politics over what’s good for our nation.”

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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, on Monday said that he can do whatever he pleases as chair of the panel, even though he has stepped aside from the Russia probe for the time being.

“I can do whatever I want, I’m the chairman of the committee,” Nunes told CNN. “I voluntarily, temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation.”

He told CNN that he is “fully read-in” on the committee’s Russia probe.

“When I temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation, that’s exactly what it means: It doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be involved, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be fully read in,” he said.

Though he’s stayed informed on the investigation, Nunes said that he has not attended hearings and briefings related to the probe. But he said that he could decide to take over the reins in the investigation at any time.

“Every decision I make is my own,” he told CNN. “I can go back right after this conversation and take the investigation over. Although I think everybody’s learning there’s not really much there because there’s no collusion — which is what I had said several months ago, I hadn’t seen any evidence.”

He also stressed that he never said he was recusing himself from the committee’s probe. Nunes announced his decision to temporarily step aside from the Russia investigation in April, after the House Ethics Committee said it was looking into complaints against him. Several groups charged that Nunes disclosed classified information when he publicized his claims that the Obama administration requested the unmasking of Trump team members whose names were incidentally collected in intelligence reports.

“I temporarily stepped aside, just to make sure there was no issue at all, just to give everybody assurance there was no ethical issues at all,” he told CNN. “That is not withdrawing, that is not recusing myself from an investigation.”

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Vice President Mike Pence has invited several conservative Republican senators to dinner Tuesday night as Republican leaders push for a vote in the Senate this week on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, Politico reported Monday evening.

Pence has invited conservative senators like Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who is skeptical of the Senate bill, as well as Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), according to Politico.

The dinner was not listed on Pence’s public schedule released Monday night. He will attend a weekly lunch with the Senate Republican caucus on Tuesday and will hold meetings with several lawmakers in the afternoon, per the schedule released by the White House.

Several Republican senators have said that they will not support legislation as written this week, endangering the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Republican leaders are now scrambling to come up with changes and deals that could earn the support of the 50 senators needed to pass the bill. Senate Republicans can only afford two defections from their 52-member caucus.


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President Donald Trump quickly latched onto the news that three CNN employees resigned after the network had to retract a story about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe.

Trump published a tweet early Tuesday morning blasting CNN as “fake news.”

Trump returned to the topic a couple of hours later, declaring that several other media outlets are also “fake news.”

CNN published a report Thursday that the Senate Intelligence Committee was looking into a Russian investment fund, citing one anonymous source. Anthony Scaramucci, a member of Trump’s transition team, met with the chief executive of the fund earlier this year. CNN retracted the story late Friday, saying that the story did not meet the network’s editorial standards.

The network then announced Monday that the reporter who wrote the story and two editors would resign.

This post has been updated.

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Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), a vocal opponent of Senate Republicans’ rushed process to vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Monday night that he will vote to block the bill from proceeding if leaders push for a vote this week.

Johnson was the third Republican senator to announce opposition to the bill as written on Monday night after the Congressional Budget Office released its score of the bill. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) also said Monday evening that they would oppose a vote this week to allow the Senate bill to proceed. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) announced last week that he would oppose the bill in its current form.

Senate Republican leaders can only afford to lose two Republicans in the chamber and still pass the legislation. Leaders are reportedly already working on changes to the bill and side deals that may persuade the holdouts to back the legislation.

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The National Association of Medicaid Directors on Monday criticized the deep cuts to Medicaid proposed in the Senate’s draft legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare as “unworkable.”

The group approved of certain provisions in the bill, like greater flexibility for the types of waivers from the law for which states can apply. But the group blasted the cuts the draft bill would impose to Medicaid.

“However, no amount of administrative or regulatory flexibility can compensate for the federal spending reductions that would occur as a result of this bill,” the group said in a statement. “Changes in the federal responsibility for financing the program must be accompanied by clearly articulated statutory changes to Medicaid to enable states to operate effectively under a cap. The Senate bill does not accomplish that. It would be a transfer of risk, responsibility, and cost to the states of historic proportions.”

The group refrained from offering an opinion on per capita caps and block grants, the two options states would have for Medicaid funding under the Senate bill. However, it argued that the rate at which the caps on federal Medicaid spending would grow over time under the Senate bill is “insufficient and unworkable.”

The group urged the Senate to leave Medicaid alone for now and to focus solely on the individual marketplace.

Read the group’s statement below:

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The American Medical Association, the largest advocacy group for doctors in the United States, on Monday announced its opposition to the Senate’s bill to replace Obamacare.

“Medicine has long operated under the precept of Primum non nocere, or ‘first, do no harm.’ The draft legislation violates that standard on many levels,” James Madara, AMA’s CEO, wrote in a letter to Senate leaders.

Madara wrote that provisions in the Senate’s draft legislation, like less generous subsidies and broader waivers for states, “will expose low and middle income patients to higher costs and greater difficulty in affording care.” The group is also concerned about the deep cuts to Medicaid that the Senate’s draft bill imposes.

“We sincerely hope that the Senate will take this opportunity to change the course of the current debate and work to fix problems with the current system. We believe that Congress should be working to increase the number of Americans with access to quality, affordable health insurance instead of pursuing policies that have the opposite effect, and we renew our commitment to work with you in that endeavor,” Madara concluded in the letter.

Read the letter:

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Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), one of four conservative senators who issued a statement last week opposing the Senate Obamacare repeal bill as written, wrote in a Monday New York Times op-ed that the bill does not adequately fix the issues he sees with the Affordable Care Act.

“Our priority should be to bring relief, and better, less expensive care, to millions of working men and women,” Johnson wrote in the New York Times. “Unfortunately, the Senate Republican alternative, unveiled last week, doesn’t appear to come close to addressing their plight. Like Obamacare, it relies too heavily on government spending, and ignores the role that the private sector can and should play.”

Johnson called for “consumer-driven, free-market competition” in the health care market, which he argued would “restrain (if not lower) costs while improving quality, access and innovation.”

“Loosen up regulations and mandates, so that Americans can choose to purchase insurance that suits their needs and that they can afford,” Johnson wrote.

“Like many other senators, I had hoped that this was where things were headed during the last several weeks as the Republican bill was discussed,” he continued. “We’re disappointed that the discussion draft turns its back on this simple solution, and goes with something far too familiar: throwing money at the problem.”

Johnson ended his op-ed by noting that Republican leaders in the Senate have emphasized that the bill released last week is a discussion draft open to negotiation.

“I look forward to working with Senate leadership and the president to improve the bill so it addresses the plight of the forgotten men and women by returning freedom and choice to health care,” the senator wrote.

Johnson has previously criticized leadership for rushing the bill through the chamber, arguing that senators need more time to assess the legislation.

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