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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

The relationship between Donald Trump and Felix Sater is the kind of sordid connection that would have done in almost any past presidential candidate. But many of the details of their relationship remain elusive. In a series of interviews with TPM’s Sam Thielman in recent days, Sater has opened up about his past and his relationship with the president who now keeps his distance. Must read.

Please read Tierney Sneed’s account of being in the Senate chamber last night as it became apparent – in slow, excruciating fashion–that John McCain was going to block Obamacare repeal.

Big props to Tierney, Alice Ollstein, Cameron Joseph and the whole TPM team on covering this unprecedented legislative rollercoaster over the last several weeks and months. They work longer and harder and with more good humor than you can possibly know.

We’ve been slogging through the evening toward what was seeming like an inevitable passage of a godforsaken Obamacare repeal bill that not even most Senate Republicans liked or wanted to see become law. But in the last several minutes things have ground to a halt on the Senate floor, and it is increasingly looking plausibly like Mitch McConnell lacks the votes to pass the so-called skinny repeal bill. TPM’s Tierney Sneed is in the Senate chamber and from her vantage point things look amiss. It’s easy to read way too much into minor things, but at the moment Senate business has stalled. McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence and other key Republicans are all on the Senate floor, and the presumed no votes are being worked hard, Tierney reports. Among the possible no votes is John McCain. Pence has been talking to McCain for 20 minutes, Tierney reports. Stay tuned …

Late Update: As of 1:25 a.m. ET, voting has begun on the skinny repeal bill.

Four GOP senators demand some kind of assurance from the House that if the Senate passes “skinny repeal” of Obamacare, the bill will go to conference – and not simply be passed by the House.

The problem, one of many, actually, is there’s no formal mechanism for the House to assure the Senate that it won’t pass a bill the Senate just passed! This isn’t how it works!

Three senators with the capacity and perhaps the propensity to blow up the Senate GOP’s march toward passing a so-called skinny repeal of Obamacare are about to hold a hastily arranged press conference on the Hill. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Ron Johnson. Stay tuned …

The vote is being kept open as the Senate awaits John McCain’s arrival. He flew into DC from Arizona a short time ago. If the vote goes as expected, he’ll be the 50th vote, creating a tie that Vice President Mike Pence will break.

The final gavel has not fallen yet, but the only two GOP no votes right now are Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME). The only other GOP senator who hasn’t voted yet is Ron Johnson (WI). It’s not clear why Johnson hasn’t voted yet. He and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are currently talking on the Senate floor.

The scene of a dramatic return by McCain seems by design, perhaps to cloak the bizarre process in some seriousness.

Update: McCain cast 49th yes vote, and Johnson cast the 50th. No final gavel yet. But should be soon.

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Key movement in the last few minutes that suggests the motion to proceed on Obamacare repeal is likely to pass later this afternoon. We don’t have all the undecideds nailed down yet, but a key senator in the saga–Dean Heller (R-NV)–just came out with a statement saying that he will vote for the motion. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who were seen as likely to move in tandem, have also just come out in support of the motion to proceed.

Just to give you a sense of the feel of things, via our reporters on the Hill: This has seemed to be moving in the direction of passing the motion to proceed. That’s the general sense from talking with senators, mainly because aside from Susan Collins, the moderate Republican from Maine, no other senators are taking a firm line against proceeding.

Senators are already spinning “skinny repeal” (what an awful phrase) as a legit option.

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The Obamacare repeal effort is the most chaotic, rudderless, un-Senate-like piece of legislating since … the House revived its bill back in May. But snark aside, the level of confusion and the lack of a real plan for getting the bill (which bill??!) through the Senate is probably unprecedented. At least nothing like it in recent memory.

Tierney Sneed, Alice Ollstein and Cameron Joseph are all over it for us on the Hill today as the key procedural vote is expected this afternoon.

Here’s the very latest: an emerging possibility that the Senate will pass the narrowest of repeal bills and punt the whole process to conference committee.

What that means isn’t entirely certain, but lacking the votes to pass much of anything at this point, McConnell is trying to buy time AND muddy the waters. Once he gets to conference committee, they can remake a bill in negotiations with the House and then give muscling reluctant senators into compliance another shot later.

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