July 16, 2014
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Wednesday was not a good day for government agencies that deal with infectious agents.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was in the hot seat during a hearing held by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. Frieden was grilled about unsafe practices at the CDC, which resulted in employees being exposed to anthrax spores and other dangerous samples.

Last month, the anthrax was sent from one lab to another without being killed off, and could have infected people along the way. It was a "tipping point," Friedan said, showing the CDC that it needs to take a hard look at safety procedures. A memo by the subcommittee stated that employees did not know how to decontaminate the laboratory, physical exams were delayed, and the amount and location of the anthrax bacteria weren't recorded. A molecular biologist, Richard H. Ebright, testified that it is a conflict of interest for the CDC to fund and conduct research while overseeing its safety practices. He suggested that an independent agency regulate the research instead.

Officials also announced that the vials of freeze-dried smallpox found in a Food and Drug Administration lab on July 1 were part of a larger collection that included 327 vials of dengue, influenza, Q fever, and other infectious agents. While a few of the vials were destroyed, most were sent to the National Bioforensic Analysis Center, and officials said they were not sure if any of the materials ever posed a threat. Catherine Garcia

9:28 p.m. ET
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Tennis superstar Serena Williams is not to be messed with, on or off the court.

Over the weekend, John McEnroe, while promoting his new memoir, But Seriously, told NPR he believes Williams is the best female player ever. When asked why he didn't refer to her, like others have, as the best player in the world, McEnroe responded that while she is "incredible," if Williams "played the men's circuit, she'd be like 700 in the world."

Williams waited until Monday to tweet a message right to McEnroe. "Dear John," she wrote. "I adore and respect you but please, please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based." That wasn't all; Williams went on to add, "I've never played anyone ranked 'there' nor do I have time. Respect me and my privacy as I'm trying to have a baby. Good day, sir." Williams is engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and they are expecting their first child. Catherine Garcia

8:38 p.m. ET
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Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, was questioned by FBI agents five times in March regarding his contacts with Russians and communications with the Trump campaign, several people with knowledge of the investigation told The Washington Post.

When asked about claims that he acted as a middleman between the campaign and Russian officials, Page denied any wrongdoing, a person familiar with the case said. Page told the Post he had "extensive discussions" with FBI agents in March, but would not say if he has had any follow-up meetings. He did reveal that he met with the agents without an attorney, and said he wasn't concerned about not having a representative with him because he told the truth.

The Post reports Page was also asked about the claims made against him in a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer, which came to light earlier this year. The dossier states that Page met in July 2016 with Igor Sechin, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Igor Divyekin, a senior Kremlin official, and he was part of a "well-developed conspiracy of cooperation between [Trump associates] and the Russian leadership." Page said he never met Sechin, and hadn't heard of Divyekin until the dossier came out. Catherine Garcia

7:25 p.m. ET
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Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) tweeted Monday evening that she will vote no on a motion to proceed the Senate health-care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

Collins made the announcement a few hours after the Congressional Budget Office released its preliminary analysis of the Senate Republicans' health-care proposal, which estimates that in 10 years, if the plan passes, 22 million more people would be uninsured than if the Affordable Care Act remained the law. "I want to work with my GOP and Dem colleagues to fix the flaws in ACA," she tweeted. "CBO analysis shows Senate bill won't do it. I will vote no on mtp," meaning motion to proceed.

"CBO says 22 million people lose insurance," she continued. "Medicaid cuts hurt most vulnerable Americans; access to health care in rural areas threatened. Senate bill doesn't fix ACA problems for rural Maine. Our hospitals are already struggling. 1 in 5 Mainers are on Medicaid." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who wants a vote on the BCRA this week, cannot afford to lose more than two votes, and now six GOP senators have shared their displeasure with the bill. Catherine Garcia

6:39 p.m. ET

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released on Monday its preliminary analysis of the Senate Republicans' health-care proposal, estimating that by 2026, 22 million more people would be uninsured under the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

The Senate Republicans decided to jump on one bit of information in the analysis — that "the draft bill would lower premiums by 30 percent when compared with current law," the Affordable Care Act. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, also said the CBO report "confirms that the Senate health-care bill will soon start lowering premiums for millions of Americans relative to the unsustainable premium increases under the broken ObamaCare system."

They're not exactly on the same page as the Republican National Committee, which released its own statement saying, "Remember, the CBO has a long track record of being way off in their modeling, with predictions often differing drastically from what actually happens." So, depending on which Republican you ask, either the CBO report is completely accurate, or it can't be trusted. Catherine Garcia

5:16 p.m. ET

On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its appraisal of Senate Republicans' health-care bill, dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The CBO estimated that were the BCRA to become law, 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 than if ObamaCare were to remain the law of the land.

As ProPublica's Charles Ornstein pointed out, that's effectively the populations of these 17 U.S. states combined:

The Senate's bill does make out slightly ahead of the bill House Republicans passed early last month, which the CBO estimated would result in 23 million more uninsured by 2026 than ObamaCare.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pushing for a vote on the BCRA this week. Read the CBO's full report here. Kimberly Alters

5:10 p.m. ET

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday that Senate Republicans' health-care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would slash Medicaid spending by $772 billion over the next 10 years. That would mark a 26 percent cut in spending on Medicaid by 2026, compared to under ObamaCare.

President Trump has repeatedly pledged to not cut Medicaid funding. Just the day before the CBO released its cost estimate score of the BCRA, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted there were "no cuts to Medicaid" in the bill.

Right now, there are more than 70 million people enrolled in Medicaid. The New York Times reported that Medicaid "pays for most of the 1.4 million people in nursing homes" and "covers 20 percent of all Americans and 40 percent of poor adults."

Overall, the CBO estimated that the BRCA would leave an additional 22 million people uninsured in 2026 compared to ObamaCare, but would reduce the federal deficit by $321 billion over the next decade. Becca Stanek

4:40 p.m. ET
Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Monday released its cost estimate of Senate Republicans' health-care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The CBO score revealed that by next year, 15 million additional people would be uninsured under the plan, as opposed to under ObamaCare, the current law. The CBO attributed this steep drop to the fact that the "penalty for not having insurance would be eliminated" under the BCRA.

By 2026, 22 million more people would be uninsured under the BCRA, the CBO said. The organization had predicted 23 million more individuals would be uninsured under the House GOP's health-care bill than ObamaCare; the BCRA is the Senate's version of the House measure, which passed early last month.

The CBO also estimated that the BCRA would reduce the federal deficit over the next decade by $321 billion — $202 billion more in savings than the estimate for the House bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pushing for a vote on the BCRA this week. Five Republican senators have already announced their opposition to the bill unveiled last week; Republicans can only lose two votes and still pass the bill. Becca Stanek

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