As the 115th Congress gavels into session Tuesday, one of the Republican Party's first orders of business will be beginning the process of dismembering the Affordable Care Act, the overhaul of the U.S. health care system crafted by Democrats in 2009 and 2010, with no public GOP plan to replace it. President Obama and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will meet Wednesday with their respective parties on Capitol Hill to discuss ObamaCare strategy, but on Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Republicans that if they repeal ObamaCare, they should be prepared for the fallout on their own. "It's the old thing of going into a china shop," she said: "You break it, you own it."
On CNN, Vice President Joe Biden had a similar message for Republicans, delivered in a very Joe Biden way. "I love these guys," he told Jake Tapper. "'We ran against the Affordable Care Act, how terrible it is, how premiums went up, we're going to repeal it!' Go ahead, repeal it. Repeal it now. See what happens. The idea that all of a sudden they can go back and start charging women more than men, pre-existing conditions don't matter." Obama and the Democrats "knew we had to improve the Affordable Care Act, knew from the beginning — we were looking for a partner," Biden said, using Social Security as an example of a program that was expanded and improved with bipartisan consensus.
In the Senate, Republicans are expected to rely on a procedure called budget reconciliation that will allow them to gut large portions of ObamaCare with just 51 votes, meaning they can lose two Republicans and still push the measure through. GOP leaders in the Senate are in favor of a lost "offramp" that would give them two years to come up with a replacement plan, but on Monday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) warned against a "repeal and delay" plan or a "partial repeal" of the bill. "If Congress fails to vote on a replacement at the same time as repeal, the repealers risk assuming the blame for the continued unraveling of ObamaCare," he wrote at Rare. "Partial repeal of ObamaCare will likely win the day, but when the insurance companies come to Washington crying for a bailout don't say that no one warned of this preventable disaster." Peter Weber
Snapchat is getting political. Well, kind of.
The short-term messaging app is partnering with TurboVote to encourage its young users to register to vote in time for the U.S. midterm elections, it announced Tuesday. Anyone over the age of 18 will now receive a voter registration link when they click into their profile, reports The Verge. Snapchat will also deploy in-app alerts, messages, relevant news stories linked through Snapchat's registration page, and a filter to promote National Voter Registration Day on Oct. 2.
In its latest move, the tech giant is following behind Instagram, which also partnered with TurboVote recently to mobilize its users. Historically, young voters have shied away from political participation, but Snapchat is hoping to reverse that by providing resources to its 100 million American users. Come November, Snapchat will be able to judge whether its efforts paid off. Read more at The Verge. Amari Pollard
Bill Cosby was sentenced Tuesday to at least three years in prison, a decision that was welcomed by many of the women who have publicly accused him of sexual assault.
After Cosby was sentenced as result of his conviction on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, at least one woman in the courtroom raised her fist in the air and said "Yes!" reports The Associated Press. Janice Dickinson, a former model who testified that Cosby assaulted her, threw back her head and laughed in the courtroom upon hearing the sentence, reports HuffPost. She reportedly looked at Cosby and said "See, I got the last laugh, pal."
The former comedian, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 60 women, was denied bail. Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said that "equal justice under the law" meant that Cosby should not be treated differently based on "who he is or who he was," reports BuzzFeed News' Julia Reinstein. O'Neill spoke directly to Cosby in announcing his sentence: "You claimed her silence was consent," he said. "That is not the law."
In a press conference following the sentencing, women who have come forward with allegations said they were glad to have achieved "justice." Chelan Lasha, who also testified during Cosby's trial, said she has "waited 32 years for this day, hoping my nightmare will go away." Representatives for Cosby maintained that he was wrongfully convicted, and said he was the victim of "the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States."
Cosby left the courtroom in handcuffs for his three- to 10-year sentence, which will begin immediately. Summer Meza
Although Disney dramatically fired writer-director James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the film will still tell the story he had planned.
The company has "every intention" of using Gunn's script for the upcoming movie, actor Sean Gunn, James' brother, recently told Tulsa World. Disney fired James Gunn from the project in July after offensive tweets he'd sent years ago, which included jokes about pedophilia, resurfaced. Disney said at the time that it was severing their relationship with him because his tweets were "indefensible," though critics who disagreed with Disney's decision pointed to the fact that Gunn had addressed the controversial tweets in the past, and that they were resurfaced in the first place by alt-right troll Mike Cernovich.
Either way, Gunn was fired from the project. But he had already fully completed his screenplay, leaving open the question of whether Disney would still make the movie using that script or start from scratch. The stars of the multi-billion dollar franchise were strongly in favor of Disney keeping Gunn's script, with Drax actor Dave Bautista saying he'd ask to be released from his contract if Disney didn't do so. The actors also put out a statement in July saying Gunn should be re-instated as director, though that door appears to be closed after Disney CEO Bob Iger recently doubled down on the decision to boot him in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Gunn will need to receive a writing credit if his script is retained. For now, production on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is on hold, and while nobody is quite sure when it will resume, Sean Gunn says Marvel has assured him that it still plans to make the film at some point. Needless to say, though, the previously-anticipated May 2020 release is now out of the question. Read more at Tulsa World. Brendan Morrow
After threatening to change its name for about a year and a half, Dunkin' Donuts has finally pulled the trigger.
The company announced Tuesday that starting in January, it will officially be known as just Dunkin'. A tweet posted to the official Dunkin' Donuts Twitter account said that "after 68 years of America running on Dunkin', we're moving to a first-name basis." Per CNN, this reflects the chain's efforts to re-brand itself as being "beverage-led," although the donuts are still staying on the menu. CEO David Hoffmann said the move is part of an effort to "modernize the Dunkin' experience for our customers," Business Insider reports.
This idea was first floated in April 2017, when a single location opened that was just called Dunkin', CBS News reported. Earlier this year, that name was applied to more locations, though the company clarified at the time that it would make a final decision about whether to roll the abridged name out nationwide at a later date, per Business Insider.
The decision has now been made, and you can expect the logo to start changing on signs across the country in a few months. And unlike that time IHOP briefly started calling itself IHOB, this decision appears to be permanent. Brendan Morrow
Bill Cosby on Tuesday was sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison for his conviction on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University women's basketball administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004. He was declared a "sexually violent predator," and will appear as such on a sex-offender registry for the rest of his life, reports The Associated Press.
The former comedian's defense lawyer argued that Cosby was no longer a threat to the public due to his age, 81, and the fact that he is legally blind. Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill decided that prosecutors had presented "clear and convincing" proof otherwise.
Constand submitted a victim impact statement in support of a strong sentence for Cosby. "Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it," she wrote. "He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others." Cosby opted not to make a statement when the judge gave him a chance to speak in court Tuesday.
Cosby was facing up to 30 years in prison for three counts of indecent aggravated assault. More than 60 women have accused him of sexual misconduct, but only Constand's report led to criminal charges. Cosby has been on house arrest since his conviction in April. Summer Meza
One of the Republican senators on the fence about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is ready to listen to his accusers.
In an interview with The New York Times on Monday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said that the vote on Kavanaugh is no longer about whether he is qualified to serve. Rather, she said, it's about "whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed." Christine Ford has accused Kavanaugh of forcibly groping her at a party when they were both in high school, while Deborah Ramirez alleges Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a drunken dorm party while they were both students at Yale University. Kavanaugh has denied both allegations, and he and Ford will testify before the Senate on Thursday regarding her accusation.
Murkowski told the Times that Ford's allegation disturbed her and that she's prepared to hear her out. "We need to be able to listen," she said. The senator also explained that she has been working over the past week to ensure that Ford's testimony didn't fall through because of her colleagues' "arbitrary timeline"; many Republicans insisted Ford had to testify Monday if at all. In a separate interview, Murkowski told CNN that Ramirez should come forward and "take the next step" like Ford so that her allegation can also be considered. At the same time, Murkowski made clear she will also listen to what Kavanaugh has to say.
Kavanaugh needs 50 votes in order to be confirmed, and there are 51 Republicans in the Senate. If Murkowski votes no, only one other Republican would have to break rank for Kavanaugh's nomination to go up in flames. There are reportedly up to seven Republicans undecided on the nominee — including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who told reporters Tuesday that "the hearing Thursday is an important one." Brendan Morrow
Amazon Prime announced Tuesday that its Thursday Night Football broadcasts would feature Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer as commentators. Sports Illustrated reports that they are the first-ever female broadcasting team providing analysis for NFL games.
Storm, an ESPN anchor, and Kremer, an NFL Network correspondent, will make their debut during this week's match between the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Rams. Amazon Prime will give viewers four options when they watch football through the streaming service — a Fox broadcast with commentators Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, a team of U.K. analysts, a Spanish-language broadcast, and the Storm-Kremer partnership.
The duo will offer play-by-play analysis for 11 NFL games this season, reports Yahoo Sports. Amazon Prime emphasized the history-making aspect of the decision, announcing that "bringing two female announcers together to call an entire NFL game has never been done before." The service additionally touted Storm and Kremer's "extensive knowledge of the game." Both journalists have won awards for their sports coverage and have worked for decades in the industry. Summer Meza