MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Republicans Delay Vote on Health Care Bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In a major blow to President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, the House vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which was slated for Thursday, has been postponed.</p> <p>The delay comes just hours after a failed emergency meeting between Trump and members of the House Freedom Caucus, hard-line conservatives who demanded the American Health Care Act eliminate Obamacare's so-called <a href="" target="_blank">essential health benefits</a>. The potential concession to the Freedom Caucus' demands reportedly <a href="" target="_blank">alarmed more moderate-leaning Republicans</a>.</p> <p>It's unclear when a rescheduled vote will take place.</p> <p>As of Thursday afternoon, <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=b-lede-package-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">47 House Republicans</a> remained undecided about their vote on Ryan's health care legislation; 31 Republican lawmakers said they would reject the proposal. With all Democrats voting no, the bill can only afford to lose 22 Republicans to secure passage.</p> <p><em>This is a breaking news post. We will update as more information becomes available. </em></p></body></html> Politics Donald Trump Health Care Thu, 23 Mar 2017 20:09:46 +0000 Inae Oh 328696 at Lunchtime Photo <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Beware the tree of death. It awaits multitudes if Republicans pass Trumpcare.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_tree_sunset_orange.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 0px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 23 Mar 2017 20:05:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 328701 at Conservatives Demand End to Pre-Existing Conditions Ban <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I guess I was wrong last night. The <em>New York Times</em> says President Trump has caved into demands to repeal the <a href="" target="_blank">minimum set of required benefits for health care insurance:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>President Trump agreed to the demands of conservative House Republicans to remove federal requirements that health insurance plans provide a <strong>basic set of benefits like maternity care, emergency services, mental health and wellness visits</strong> as he struggles to round up enough votes to pass a broad health care overhaul.</p> </blockquote> <p>But the <em>Washington Post</em> reports that <a href="" target="_blank">this still wasn't enough:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Conservative House Republicans rebuffed an offer by President Trump on Thursday to strip a key set of mandates from the nation&rsquo;s current health-care law, raising doubts about whether House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has the votes to pass the bill.</p> <p>....Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), asked whether the White House had made its final negotiating offer, said that if that&rsquo;s the case, <strong>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re not going to pass the bill.&rdquo;...</strong>As of mid-afternoon Thursday, 37 House Republicans &mdash; mainly Freedom Caucus members &mdash; had announced their opposition to the bill, known as the American Health Care Act.</p> </blockquote> <p>So what do conservatives want? Here's the <em>Post</em> again:</p> <blockquote> <p>Conservative lawmakers have asked to eliminate much of [Obamacare&rsquo;s] Title I, which....bars companies from setting insurance rates based on a person&rsquo;s sex, <strong>medical condition,</strong> genetic condition or other factors.</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, insurers could charge you more if you have a pre-existing condition. That would effectively kill off the Obamacare provision that requires insurers to cover everyone who applies. They'd simply price policies out of reach for people with expensive pre-existing conditions and that would be that.</p> <p>Would this pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian, who has to agree that repealing Title 1 "directly affects" the budget? I doubt it. Would Mike Pence go ahead and overrule her? Maybe. Is this whole thing a debacle beyond imagining? Oh yes.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> It's worth pointing out that if Republicans go down this road, they've essentially killed the filibuster completely. Basically, they would have set a precedent that anything can be added to a reconciliation bill&mdash;which can't be filibustered&mdash;and the vice president will overrule the parliamentarian and declare that it's OK. At that point, the Senate can include reconciliation instructions for just about anything in its annual budget resolution. As long as the president and vice president are from the same party, they can then pass anything they want with 51 votes.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 23 Mar 2017 19:37:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 328686 at What's Missing From This Photo of Politicians Deciding the Future of Women's Health? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>President Donald Trump met with the arch-conservative House Freedom Caucus at the White House Thursday to try to hammer out a deal on Obamacare repeal. A major question in the final negotiations? Whether or not maternity care and mammograms should be considered "essential" treatments covered by all health insurance policies under the Republican proposal. ("I wouldn't want to lose my mammograms," <a href="" target="_blank">quipped</a> Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who supports scrapping the requirement. He apologized.)</p> <p>The White House happily snapped a photo of the gathering that will go a long way toward deciding the future of women's health in America, and EMIILY's List, the group that works to elect pro-choice Democratic women to Congress, also blasted out a photo of the event to reporters. Notice anything?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Lengthy standing ovation from the Freedom Caucus when <a href="">@POTUS</a> walked into the Cabinet Room just now. Big momentum toward <a href="">#RepealAndReplace</a>. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Cliff Sims (@CSims45) <a href="">March 23, 2017</a></blockquote> <p><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>Here's another angle:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Appreciated joining <a href="">@POTUS</a> for meeting with the Freedom Caucus again today. This is it. <a href="">#PassTheBill</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Vice President Pence (@VP) <a href="">March 23, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p><strong>Update:</strong> Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray has weighed in:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">A rare look inside the GOP&rsquo;s women&rsquo;s health caucus. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) <a href="">March 23, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Politics Health Health Care Thu, 23 Mar 2017 19:36:14 +0000 Tim Murphy 328691 at Oil Will Start Flowing Through the Dakota Pipeline Any Moment Now <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>This story was originally published by </em><a href="" target="_blank">High Country News</a><em> and is reproduced here as part of the </em><a href="" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a><em> collaboration.</em></p> <p>As of this week, Bakken oil is expected to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. This development comes as court proceedings continue over the high-profile battle over the pipeline that drew thousands of protestors to North Dakota last year. As law enforcement officers and Indigenous activists faced off near the construction site, the conflict played out in real time on social media, capturing international attention.</p> <p>A District of Columbia court has yet to rule on the <a data-linktype="external" data-val="" href="" target="_blank" text="Standing Rock Sioux">Standing Rock Sioux</a> and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes' claims that the Army Corps of Engineers <a data-linktype="external" data-val="" href="" target="_blank" text="violated environmental, historic preservation">violated environmental, historic-preservation</a> and religious-freedom laws in its approval of the pipeline. A ruling is likely still several weeks away. The tribes have tried for temporary restraining orders to stop the flow of oil until the case is decided, but judges have rejected those as well. Dakota Access, LLC, is required to update the court weekly on whether the pipeline operations have begun; on March 20, the company said they expected oil to flow this week.</p> <p>The fact that the pipeline's backers, Energy Transfer Partners, appears to be prevailing is not surprising. Although the Obama administration had <a data-linktype="external" data-val="" href="" target="_blank" text="put DAPL on hold">put DAPL on hold</a> in December and called for further environmental review, then-President-elect Donald Trump vowed to push the project through once he took office. But national attention the protests brought to the flaws of the current consultation process&mdash;the federal government's responsibilities to consult with tribes before approving major infrastructure projects that affect tribal lands&mdash;may still bear fruit on future disputes. And recent legal proceedings remind us how difficult it is for tribes to argue for religious freedom in court.</p> <p>Following Trump's late-January <a data-linktype="external" data-val="" href="" target="_blank" text="executive order">executive order</a> to allow the pipeline to be finished, the Cheyenne River Sioux, located just south of the Standing Rock Reservation, filed a motion for a restraining order against the pipeline. Unlike the Standing Rock Sioux complaint based more around environmental and historic preservation violations, Cheyenne River's argument claims the government violated the Religious Freedom Reformation Act (RFRA). "The Lakota people believe that the mere existence of a crude oil pipeline under the waters of Lake Oahe will desecrate those waters and render them unsuitable for use in their religious sacraments," <a data-linktype="external" data-val="" href="" target="_blank" text="court documents">court documents</a> say.</p> <p>RFRA has an unreliable track record for tribes in court. Congress created the law in 1993 in part as a response to two cases in which courts sided with the government. In 1988 <em>Lyng vs. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association</em> allowed the Forest Service to construct a logging road in California that would have disrupted an area sacred to several tribes. In 1990 <em>Employment Division vs. Smith</em> allowed two Native Americans in Oregon to be fired for failing a drug test because they had used peyote as an element of religious ceremony. But experts say RFRA's original intention, to protect tribes from similar infringements, isn't really bearing out in court. The most recent major failure was the case of the<a data-linktype="external" data-val="" href="" target="_blank" text=" Snowbowl ski resort "> Snowbowl ski resort </a>in Arizona in which reclaimed wastewater was being used to make snow on mountains sacred to several tribes. The tribes argued a violation of RFRA and ultimately lost.</p> <p>RFRA has, however, worked for corporations such as Hobby Lobby. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled family-owned corporations should not be required to cover employees' contraception because doing so may infringe on a company's religious beliefs. Part of the challenge for tribes, says University of Colorado law professor Charles Wilkinson, is one of translation. "Most Americans are not used to the nature of tribal religions, of having ceremonies on particular land areas as being significant to their religion," Wilkinson says. <a data-linktype="external" data-val="" href="" target="_blank" text="Court documents ">Court documents </a>show Cheyenne River's attorneys explaining how the tribe views the pipeline:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Although there can be no way of knowing when this prophesy emerged into the Lakota worldview, Lakota religious adherents now in their 50s and 60s were warned of the Black Snake by their elders as children. The Black Snake prophecy is a source of terror and existential threat in the Lakota worldview&hellip;. Lakota adherents believe that the Black Snake poses an existential threat because it will cause critical imbalance in an essential resource of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe: the natural, ritually pure waters of Lake Oahe."</p> </blockquote> <p>"You can kind of get that sense, there's some question raised in opposing parties arguments of 'Do they really believe this,'" says Monte Mills, a University of Montana law professor. In court in February, Judge James Boasberg reportedly questioned how a pipeline would desecrate the Missouri River if the oil itself never touched the water.</p> <p>The most lasting impact of the Dakota Access battle might be greater federal attention to the process through which the U.S. government is supposed to consult tribal governments about proposed infrastructure projects that might impact those nations, says Wilkinson. "(Tribes) see consultation as almost a four-letter word," Wilkinson says. "It's so often just checking a box." A <a data-linktype="external" data-val="" href="" target="_blank" text="38-page memo">38-page memo</a> from former Obama administration Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins in December described in detail the ways in which the government failed to consult tribes that may be affected by the pipeline. At one point, Tompkins notes that a draft Environmental Assessment for DAPL "failed to even identify the reservation on its maps and incorrectly said the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had no issue with the project." (The Trump administration suspended the memo and removed it from the Interior website in February.)</p> <p>Similarly, a <a data-linktype="external" data-val="" href="" target="_blank" text="73-page report ">73-page report </a>released in January by the Corps of Engineers, the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior about consultation&mdash;not limited to DAPL&mdash;highlighted flaws in the process, after seeking comment from 59 tribes across the country. The report includes problems with the way the federal government "tends to look at (infrastructure) projects in a segmented way&hellip;For example, in the Dakota Access Pipeline review, four different states, three separate districts of the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Fish and Wildlife Service each looked at different parts of the project, but did not coordinate the impacts to Tribes." That report requested further action from several federal agencies by April 2017, in establishing better consultation processes.</p> <p>"Many federal statutes require consultations with states, counties and tribes," Wilkinson says. "Maybe one way or another Standing Rock could be valuable as raising that issue."</p></body></html> Environment Climate Desk Donald Trump Energy Regulatory Affairs Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:57:40 +0000 Tay Wiles 328542 at New Charges for Cop Who Killed Laquan McDonald <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Prosecutors have <a href="">announced</a> that Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke will face additional criminal charges in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old <a href="" target="_blank">Laquan McDonald</a> in October 2014. Van Dyke, 38, was indicted last week on 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm&mdash;one count, apparently, for each bullet he fired at McDonald. The charges were returned by a grand jury and unsealed on Thursday morning. The new indictment&mdash;which also includes charges of first-degree murder and misconduct&mdash;replaces the original indictment.</p> <p>Van Dyke was initially charged in late 2015, more than a year after the shooting, after a judge ordered the release of police dash-cam footage. Protests rocked Chicago for days. Last August, Chicago's police chief Eddie Johnson <a href="" target="_blank">recommended</a> that several officers be fired or suspended over their conduct involving the McDonald shooting and investigation.</p> <p>Last November, Chicago's former top prosecutor Anita Alvarez&mdash;whose handling of the case may have <a href="" target="_blank">cost her</a> her job&mdash;turned the case over to special prosecutor Joseph McMahon. Van Dyke's lawyers have tried to have the original charges against him dismissed, <a href="">arguing</a> that Alvarez tainted the original grand jury proceedings with "irregularities" while under intense pressure from the public and city officials to secure charges. On Thursday, the officer's lawyers <a href="" target="_blank">said in court</a> that they saw the special prosecutor's decision to replace the original indictment as acknowledgement that the grand jury process was riddled with problems<em>. </em>They also <a href="">said</a> they would file a motion to dismiss the new indictment. Van Dyke's next court date has been set for April 20.</p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:48:40 +0000 Brandon Ellington Patterson 328666 at 2014 Donald Trump Landed A Sick Burn On 2017 Donald Trump. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>FAST FACTS ABOUT TODAY, MARCH 23, 2017:</p> <p>1) Congressional Republicans are <a href="" target="_blank">supposed to vote on the American Health Care Act</a>, which would repeal Obamacare and be <a href="" target="_blank">disastrous for millions of people</a>.</p> <p>2) <a href="" target="_blank">Donald Trump is President</a>. President Trump strongly supports the American Health Care Act, which would <a href="" target="_blank">be disastrous for millions of Americas </a>(see item 1).</p> <p>3) It is a Thursday.</p> <p>Why is 3 important? Well, I'm glad you asked, my attractive friend!</p> <p>Via my colleague Tim Murphy:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">It&rsquo;s Thursday. How many people have lost their healthcare today?</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">January 9, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Trump tweets are like Shakespeare quotes: there's one for every occasion.</p></body></html> MoJo Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:27:23 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 328681 at McCain Says Pressure for an Independent Trump-Russia Commission Is Growing <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday called for an independent commission to investigate Russian interference in the presidential election, comparing the current situation to the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when his initial requests for an independent commission were blocked but then gained steam.</p> <p>"Back after 9/11, Sen. [Joe] Lieberman and I said we ought to have a select commission, and nobody wanted it, and then eventually it happened," McCain told reporters in the Capitol. "The pressure will grow, particularly in light of the events of the last 24 hours."</p> <p>McCain was referring to the actions of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who drew criticism Wednesday for telling the press and President Donald Trump that the intelligence community may have unintentionally collected communications by Trump and his aides during the transition. Nunes did so without consulting his colleagues on the committee, and he <a href="" target="_blank">may have disclosed classified information</a>. His move has led Democrats and others to question his ability to oversee his committee's investigation of the Trump-Russia scandal and Moscow's hacking of the 2016 campaign. Nunes' actions, McCain said, are "another reason for a select committee." (A select committee is a special panel established by Congress to investigate a particular matter. Such a committee might have more independence and function in a more bipartisan manner than a traditional committee. It differs from a select commission, whose members are chosen by congressional leaders of both parties and the president and which operates outside the congressional system.)</p> <p>Nunes <a href="" target="_blank">apologized</a> to his colleagues on Thursday. But criticism continued to mount. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections, told reporters in the Capitol, "Not telling his members and briefing the president does not meet my definition of doing textbook, bipartisan oversight."</p> <p>"I think the actions of the House chair yesterday certainly call into question the ability of that committee to perform an independent investigation," Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), another member of the intelligence committee, told <em>Mother Jones</em>. "But I don't think that applies to the Senate committee. So far we are working on a bipartisan basis and I think we can get to the bottom of this."</p> <p>He added, "If we can't, I'll say so."</p></body></html> Politics Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:22:10 +0000 Pema Levy 328671 at GOP Senator Scoffs at Trumpcare's Potential Cuts to Women's Health <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>With Republican support for the American Health Care Act in jeopardy, President Donald Trump held a last-minute meeting with House Freedom Caucus members Thursday to discuss the possibility of eliminating one of Obamacare's signature elements: the requirement that insurance policies cover 10 so-called essential health benefits.</p> <p>One of those benefits is preventive services, which include cancer screenings such as mammograms. <a href="" target="_blank">According to a January report</a>, more women across all income and education levels used mammograms under Obamacare than before the health care law was enacted.</p> <p>But preserving affordable access to these types of benefits doesn't seem to be a major concern for Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). Asked on Thursday if he supported abandoning Obamacare's essential health benefits, Roberts reportedly scoffed, <a href="" target="_blank">"I wouldn't want to lose my mammograms."</a></p> <p>Under fire for the comment, Roberts later tweeted that he regretted his remarks:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">I deeply regret my comments on a very important topic. Mammograms are essential to women's health &amp; I never intended to indicate otherwise.</p> &mdash; Pat Roberts (@SenPatRoberts) <a href="">March 23, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>The joke, which appears to make light of the fact that as a man he doesn't need the breast-screening test, came just hours before the House is slated to vote on Republicans' plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Republicans are reportedly scrambling to get the bill passed, and its <a href="" target="_blank">fate remains in doubt</a>.</p> <p>As Trump met with Freedom Caucus members Thursday, White House official Cliff Sims tweeted the following image, in which the only woman present in the room appeared to be Kellyanne Conway:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Lengthy standing ovation from the Freedom Caucus when <a href="">@POTUS</a> walked into the Cabinet Room just now. Big momentum toward <a href="">#RepealAndReplace</a>. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Cliff Sims (@CSims45) <a href="">March 23, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center></body></html> Politics Donald Trump Health Care Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:04:37 +0000 Inae Oh 328656 at Republican Health Care Bill Has 17% Approval Rating <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Quinnipiac reports today</a> that public approval for the Republican health care bill is a dismal 17 percent. Allow me to put this into perspective with a bar chart:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_approval_various_healthcare.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Sad.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 23 Mar 2017 17:06:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 328651 at