10 things you need to know today: July 15, 2017

Senate GOP health-care bill faces broad opposition, Trump Jr. meeting with Russian lawyer included former Soviet counterintelligence officer, and more

People protest the GOP health-care plan
(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

1. Senate GOP health-care bill faces broad opposition

Senate Republicans' revised health-care bill is facing long odds in advance of next week's vote. The American Academy of Actuaries on Friday concluded the amendment Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) proposed is unworkable. Cruz's amendment, which was folded into the revised version of the bill released Thursday, allows insurers to sell plans providing less coverage than ObamaCare requires if they sell at least one plan meeting ObamaCare standards. The bill has also come under fire from the American Medical Association and governors from both parties. Negative public perception is on the rise, and 61 percent of Americans now oppose the proposal.

The Hill American Academy of Actuaries

2. Trump Jr. meeting with Russian lawyer included former Soviet counterintelligence officer

Lobbyist and former Soviet counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin was present at Donald Trump Jr.'s June 2016 meeting with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Akhmetshin, who was implicated in a 2015 hacking scandal, denies any current association with Moscow, but confirmed his attendance to The Associated Press. Akhmetshin said Trump Jr. asked Veselnitskaya for "evidence of illicit money flowing to the Democratic National Committee," but Veselnitskaya said she "didn't have that information." Also present were a translator and an individual identified by Trump Jr.'s lawyer as a "friend of Emin [Agalarov]," an Azerbaijani pop star who once featured President Trump in a music video and who is represented by Rob Goldstone, who arranged the meeting.

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NBC News The Associated Press

3. Trump takes travel ban back to SCOTUS to appeal grandparents ruling

The Trump Department of Justice on Friday evening asked the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that the travel ban cannot be used to exclude grandparents of U.S. residents who hail from the six majority-Muslim nations the order targets. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said in his decision Thursday "common sense ... dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents." The DOJ argues Watson's ruling "empties the [Supreme] Court's [previous travel ban] decision of meaning, as it encompasses not just 'close' family members but virtually all family members."

Reuters NBC Bay Area

4. House passes $696.5 billion defense bill

The House of Representatives on Friday approved a $696.5 billion military spending package in a 344-81 vote. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an annual appropriations bill in which Congress funds Pentagon spending and makes defense policy. The 2016 NDAA, signed by then-President Obama, totaled $618.7 billion. This year's legislation, which still must pass the Senate, offers a boost to military spending beyond what President Trump requested. It allots $621.5 billion to the Pentagon's base budget, more than the $549 billion cap set by the 2011 Budget Control Act, which must be modified or repealed to pass the NDAA in its current form.

The Hill Washington Examiner

5. 3 dead in Hawaii apartment building fire

At least three people, two women and one man, were killed Friday when fire broke out in an apartment building in Honolulu, Hawaii, near the top of a 538-unit high-rise. The blaze started around 2:15 in the afternoon on the 26th floor of the Marco Polo Apartments, spreading to 12 units. More than 100 firefighters responded to the alarm; one was hospitalized along with four other injured people. The fire is believed to have spread in part because the apartment where it started did not have sprinklers.


6. ISIS Afghanistan chief confirmed dead

The Pentagon on Friday confirmed a U.S. raid killed Abu Sayed, the chief of ISIS-Khorasan, the Islamic State's branch in Afghanistan. The strike targeted Sayed in the terrorist group's Afghan headquarters in Kunar province on Tuesday. "The significance is you kill a leader of one of these groups and it sets them back," said Defense Secretary James Mattis. "It is obviously a victory on our side in terms of setting them back; it is the right direction." Sayed is the third head of ISIS in Afghanistan the U.S has killed in the past year.

Reuters CNN

7. German tourists killed in Egypt stabbing

Two German tourists were killed Friday in a stabbing attack at a popular Egyptian resort, the German government confirmed Saturday. "According to everything that we know, this act was aimed at foreign tourists — a particularly perfidious and criminal act that leaves us sad, dismayed, and angry," said a statement from the German foreign ministry. The two tourists, both women, were at the beach in Hurghada, a resort town on the Red Sea, when they were killed. The stabber injured four other people before he was tackled by hotel staff and arrested. His motives are under investigation.

The Associated Press BBC News

8. Venus Williams, Roger Federer return to respective Wimbledon finals

Venus Williams and Roger Federer will return this weekend to the Wimbledon singles' finals. Federer will make his 11th appearance in the Wimbledon finals, facing Croatian Marin Cilic on Center Court. Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, meanwhile, secured her spot in the women's finals Thursday. Williams will face 2015 Wimbledon runner-up Garbine Muguruza of Spain, also on Center Court. Williams plays Saturday at 9 a.m. ET and Federer plays Sunday at 9 a.m. ET.


9. Trump attends U.S. Women's Open at his New Jersey golf course

President Trump made an appearance Friday on the sidelines of the U.S. Women's Open at one of his properties, the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. "Left Paris for U.S.A.," he tweeted the morning of the event. "Will be heading to New Jersey and attending the #USWomensOpen, their most important tournament, this afternoon." Trump stayed inside a glass-enclosed patio at the clubhouse with his son Eric in tow. The U.S. Golf Association has come under criticism for not changing venues in response to several of Trump's remarks about women.

Golf Channel ESPN

10. Beyoncé debuts 1-month-old twins

Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z officially introduced their twins to the world early Friday in an Instagram photo of a veil-wearing Beyoncé surrounded by flowers and holding the babies. The caption announced the twins — one boy and one girl — were named "Sir Carter and Rumi," generating speculation about Sir Carter's full name. A later Instagram post from Beyoncé's mother, Tina Knowles, seemed to clarify it is simply "Sir Carter," not "Sir Carter Carter," as some observers wondered. Beyoncé and Jay-Z have one other child together, 5-year-old daughter Blue Ivy.

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of TheWeek.com. She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.