Tuesday, 8 August 2017

News Snapshot: Healthcare vote, Sanctions

Healthcare Vote

What a month!

On the last episode of American Healthcare, we discussed the Senate's attempt repeal and replace Obamacare. Well about two weeks ago, Senate Republicans grew weary of trying to reassure skittish members and decided to try something, anything. They narrowly voted 51-50 to begin debate on the bill, the first step in a vote. Notice this meant two Republicans voted "no." One of them was Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who was later attacked by President Trump on Twitter: 

Since the Republicans couldn't agree on what to replace Obamacare with, the leadership decided to just go with the "repeal" part. Very few people expected the bill to pass, and it was evidence for the desperation of Republican leadership. The bill failed in the Senate 55-45, including seven Republicans who voted "No", as loud protests demanding the repeal to stop raged outside the Capitol Building.  

Next Republicans decided to pass a narrow skinny bill, which was a far cry from the original repeal and replace they promised on the campaign trail for seven years. It would repeal some parts of Obamacare without a replacement. The CBO ruled the bill would lead to 15 million more Americans uninsured by next year and a 20% increase in premiums. The American Medical Association, the AARP, and the health insurance lobbying group AHIP all came out against it. 

In a dramatic moment, the bill failed in the Senate 49-51, with the most important vote against cast by Republican John McCain, who recently received brain surgery. There were audible gasps in the room as we walked up to the vote counter and gave a thumbs-down.

With this vote, the Republicans have once again been foiled and will have to go back to the drawing board.

Heightening Tensions

In other news, Congress successfully passed a bill imposing increased sanctions (a kind of economic punishment) on Russia that also allowed them to bypass the President if he wanted to remove or loosen sanctions. Trump did not support the bill, but nonetheless, he signed it into law. The Russians reacted with disapproval and expelled American diplomats. 

Another country also received sanctions, North Korea, when the U.N. Security Council, made up of the most powerful nations in the U.N. including the United States, voted unanimously to increase sanctions on North Korea. China delivered them another slap in the face when they asked the North Koreans to stop the missile testing and said they would comply with the sanctions. Experts believe that North Korea is mostly holding on because China continues to do business with North Korea as the rest of the world sanctions them.