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Mitch McConnell says Senate Republicans might revisit Obamacare repeal

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Republicans could try again to repeal Obamacare if they win enough seats in U.S. elections next month, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday, calling a failed 2017 push to repeal the healthcare law a “disappointment.”

In a forecast of 2019 policy goals tempered by uncertainty about who will win the congressional elections, McConnell also blamed costly social programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, for the fast-rising national debt.

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On Nov. 6, Americans will vote for candidates for the Senate and the House of Representatives.

McConnell’s Republicans now hold majority control of both chambers. Democrats will try to wrest control in races for all 435 House seats and one-third of the 100 Senate seats.

Despite their dominance of Congress and the White House, Republicans dramatically failed last year to overturn former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, known as Obamacare. McConnell called it “the one disappointment of this Congress from a Republican point of view.”

He said, “If we had the votes to completely start over, we’d do it. But that depends on what happens in a couple weeks… We’re not satisfied with the way Obamacare is working.”

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President Donald Trump also favors ending Obamacare, which Republicans criticized as a costly and unneeded intrusion on Americans’ healthcare. About 20 million Americans have received health insurance coverage through the program, a landmark legislative achievement for Obama and Democrats.

On social programs, McConnell said in an interview with Reuters: “Entitlements are the long-term drivers of the debt.”

Social programs that help the poor, the aged, the unemployed, veterans and the disabled are often referred to as “entitlements” in Washington. These also include Medicaid.

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“We all know that there will be no solution to that, short of some kind of bipartisan grand bargain that makes the very, very popular entitlement programs be in a position to be sustained. That hasn’t happened since the ‘80s,” he added.

“But at some point we will have to sit down on a bipartisan basis and address the long-term drivers of the debt.”

The Treasury Department this week reported a 2018 budget deficit of $779 billion, the highest since 2012.

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The report cited higher military spending as a reason for the increase and showed government revenues were flat after deep tax cuts pushed through late last year by Republicans, despite a growing economy and rising spending levels.

McConnell said Republicans would take a hard look at funding for discretionary domestic programs next year, saying he reluctantly agreed to increased discretionary spending this year to get Democrats to accept more military spending.

“We had to negotiate with the Democrats and spend more on the domestic side than I would have preferred,” McConnell said.

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“We’ll have to sit down again and decide what we’re going to do with our annual discretionary spending after the first of the year and see what kind of agreements we can reach.”

Trump on Wednesday asked his cabinet for proposals to cut their budgets by five percent.

Reporting by David Morgan. Additional reporting by David Shepardson, Richard Cowan, Amanda Becker, Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Alistair Bell


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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GOP will struggle to fight impeachment when the key piece of evidence is Trump’s own words: CNN commentator

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On Tuesday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," Washington Post reporter David Swerdlick noted a key problem Republicans will likely run into when the public impeachment hearings start this week.

"Will this hearing give Republicans, potentially, some opportunities to find cracks in the Democrats' case?" asked anchor Wolf Blitzer.

"If Democrats handle these hearings like they handled the last hearing with Cory Lewandowski, or if they handle it like that last hearing where Robert Mueller testified, then yes, Republicans will have opportunities, because Democrats, tactically, did not do a good job of laying out a story that was easy for the viewer at home to follow," said Swerdlick. "That being said, on the substance, I think it'll be tough for Republicans to poke holes in Democrats' case, because the central piece of evidence that Democrats will be putting forward is that partial transcript that the White House itself released of the July 25th call between President Trump and President Zelensky. And the rest of the witnesses are corroborating the basic narrative that Democrats want."

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Republicans asked for a witness to undermine impeachment — but she wants to call their ‘bluff’

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Devin Nunes

Since Republicans have no substantive defense of President Donald Trump’s effort to extort political investigations out of the Ukrainian government, their big hope in protecting the White House from the impeachment inquiry relies on kicking up enough dirt and throwing up red herrings to distract voters and keep Republicans united.

As part of this effort, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) proposed nine witnesses from the GOP side for the forthcoming impeachment hearings, many of whom aren’t relevant to the central questions of the inquiry.

One of those names is likely unknown the vast majority of the American public: Democratic National Committee consultant Alexandra Chalupa. But Politico revealed Tuesday with a new interview that Chalupa is actually willing to testify — and wants to call the Republicans’ “bluff.”

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Nikki Haley’s plan to defend Trump is accidentally backfiring — and cratering her own credibility

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Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations has launched an effort to become relevant again as she promotes her new book, and in the process, she’s dashing the hopes of those who believed she could be the reasonable Republican alternative to President Donald Trump. She’s embracing the president and casting herself as one of his brave defenders — but her effort is actually just diminishing them both.

Her big bombshell tease from the new book, “With All Due Respect,” is that former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — both chosen by Trump — approached her while she was serving as ambassador to “save the country” from the president.

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