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Republicans — except for Rand Paul — vote to gut Obamacare in the dead of night

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The U.S. Senate on Thursday took a first concrete step toward dismantling Obamacare, voting to instruct key committees to draft legislation repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance program.

The final vote, which ended just past 1:30 a.m., was 51-48. The resolution now goes to the House of Representatives, which is expected to vote on it this week. Scrapping Obamacare is a top priority for the Republican majorities in both chambers and Republican President-elect Donald Trump.

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Republicans have said that the process of repealing Obamacare could take months, and developing a replacement plan could take longer. But they are under pressure from Trump to act fast; he said on Wednesday that the repeal and replacement should happen “essentially simultaneously.”

Some 20 million previously uninsured Americans gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is officially called. Coverage was extended by expanding Medicaid and through online exchanges where consumers can receive income-based subsidies.

Republicans have launched repeated legal and legislative efforts to unravel the law, criticizing it as government overreach. They say they want to replace it by giving states, not the federal government, more control.

But in recent days some Republicans have expressed concern about the party’s current strategy of voting for a repeal without having a consensus replacement plan ready.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said this week he wants to pack as many replacement provisions as possible into the legislation repealing Obamacare. But Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, also a Republican, said this could be difficult under Senate rules.

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The resolution approved Thursday instructs committees of the House and Senate to draft repeal legislation by a target date of January 27. Both chambers will then need to approve the resulting legislation before any repeal goes into effect.

Senate Republicans are using special budget procedures that allow them to repeal Obamacare by a simple majority; this way they don’t need Democratic votes. Republicans have a majority of 52 votes in the 100-seat Senate; one Republican, Senator Rand Paul, voted no on Thursday.

Democrats mocked the Republican effort, saying Republicans have never united around an alternative to Obamacare. “They want to kill ACA but they have no idea how they are going to bring forth a substitute proposal,” declared Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

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Trump said Wednesday he would submit a replacement plan as soon as his nominee to lead the Health and Human Services department, Representative Tom Price, is approved by the Senate. But Trump gave no details.

Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010 over united Republican opposition. Democrats say the act is insuring more Americans and helping to slow the growth in healthcare spending.

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But Republicans say the system is not working. The average Obamacare premium is set to rise 25 percent in 2017.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Nick Macfie)


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Big turnout for protest in Texas town known as a ‘haven’ for the Ku Klux Klan

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Protesters gathered in Vidor, Texas on Saturday for a rally against racism and police violence.

https://twitter.com/JordanJamesTV/status/1269366486189080576

The East Texas town has long had a reputation for racism.

Vidor is a small city of about 11,000 people near the Texas Gulf Coast, not too far from the Louisiana border. Despite the fact that Beaumont, a much bigger city just 10 minutes away, is quite integrated, Vidor is not. There are very few blacks there; it's mostly white. That is in large part because of a history of racism in Vidor, a past that continues to haunt the present," Keith Oppenheim reported for CNN in 2006.

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BUSTED: Key Trump aide caught pushing racist vigilantism on social media

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Video of a chainsaw-wielding Texas man threatening protesters while shouting the n-word went viral on Friday.

While many people were shocked by the video, one of President Donald Trump's top advisors supported the racism and vigilantism in documented in the video, according to a new report.

"President Donald Trump and his allies for years have amplified racist messages on Twitter while simultaneously reaching out to black and Hispanic voters, a dissonant balancing act that’s now rocking the GOP amid nationwide racial-justice protests," Politico reported Saturday. "The two competing forces collided Saturday on the Twitter feed of Trump campaign senior adviser Mercedes Schlapp, when she boosted a tweet that lauded a man in Texas in a viral video as he yelled the n-word and wielded a chainsaw to chase away anti-racism demonstrators."

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2020 Election

Trump may ‘fatally wound’ his reelection by snubbing North Carolina: CNN analyst

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President Donald Trump risks alienating voters in the key swing state of North Carolina if he moves his RNC convention speech to another state, political analyst James C. Moore explained for CNN.

"Of all the institutions the Trump presidency is harming, it's likely no one suspected the Republican National Convention might be one of them. But President Donald Trump's refusal to fully acknowledge the risks associated with the pandemic is creating a new political threat to his own candidacy," he wrote. "The Republican National Convention was slated to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, in August. But the pandemic struck, and the governor has insisted on a scaled down event with safety precautions that include social distancing and face masks. The President, who wants his huddled masses shoulder to shoulder as they shout their acclimations, is now looking to deliver his convention speech in another city."

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