Top 5 in Politics: July 10th- July 21st
1. Republican Healthcare Bill Fails
After getting the healthcare bill passed in the House of Representatives, it was clear that the Senate battle would become even more difficult. Several Republican Senators spoke out against the proposed bill immediately, and they ended up shutting it down entirely.
Senators Mike Lee and Jerry Moran surprised their party by voting against “Trumpcare” at the last minute on Monday, July 17th. Even after waiting for Senator John McCain to feel well enough to vote, it still was not enough. President Trump suggests a general repeal of Obamacare with an allowance of two years to come up with a new bill, which is favored by the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Many argue that the support will just not be there. Only four of the Republicans voted against the bill, but that was enough to lower the “yes” vote to 48, just under the 50 votes (plus Vice President Mike Pence’s tiebreaker vote) needed to pass.
2. Pay Raise to American Troops
The largest pay increase for American soldiers was passed in the House of Representatives on Friday, July 14th. The 2.4% increase will be applied to the 17,000 troops the bill hopes to add to the military, as well as those already there.
The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act was passed by a 344-81 vote, and also includes an increase in missile research and development. The “topline” for spending is about $696 billion dollars.
The bill will help fix ships, planes, and get much-needed equipment to soldiers. Supporters of the bill argue that the military has been handicapped due to budget restrictions, and note the growing threats facing the country.
3. Trump Talking to Putin Yet Again
At the recent summit in Germany, President Trump and President Putin had a lengthy dinner conversation, provoking the anger and suspicion of Trump’s aides. The aides suggest that timid relations continue with Russia and that Putin be held an arm’s length away.
President Trump, as per the usual, has disregarded that sentiment and has had multiple conversations with the Russian leader.
There is also confusion relating to the US President’s position on the country: on one hand, he accused them of hacking into the election and vehemently denies have relations with them during the campaign. On the other hand, President Trump seems intent on talking to the Russian leader, whether with the backing of his aides or not.
4. John McCain's Fight with Cancer
Last Friday, July 14th, six-term congressman John McCain went for surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye. Diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, the senator has warned his “sparring partners” in Congress that he’ll be back and swinging soon enough.
Senator McCain is 80 years old, with decades of experience in the Senate and even some experience running for president, though losing to Barack Obama in the 2008 election and to George W. Bush in the 2000 Republican nominations. His friends in the political spheres have commented on his tenacity, and expect to see him back before long.
5. New FBI Director: Christopher Wray?
He has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, but the Judiciary Committee has approved of President Trump’s pick 20-0. Wray has big shoes to fill after all the drama with former FBI Director James Comey who was fired in May by President Trump, but several senators from both the left and the right have expressed their support for him.
Before this, Wray worked in the Justice Department, served under George W. Bush, and continued in a private practice after that. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes to have him sworn in before the August recess.