Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 26, 2017

The Senate rejects a comprehensive GOP bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, the House backs new Russia sanctions, and more


Senate rejects latest version of GOP bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare

The Senate soundly rejected a comprehensive Republican plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare on Tuesday, with 57 senators voting against it, after narrowly approving starting debate on the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pushed the proposal to the floor with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie, after two of the Senate's 52 Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — voted no. Protesters yelled "Kill the bill!" in the Senate chamber. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) made a dramatic return after his brain cancer diagnosis to support starting debate, calling for compromise across the aisle, and saying, "I will not vote for this bill as it is today. It's a shell of a bill right now." The Senate now moves forward with debate and amendments, then a final vote in the days ahead.


House backs bill Russia sanctions bill

The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill seeking to impose new sanctions on Russia for its meddling in last year's presidential election, and limiting President Trump's power to ease the penalties. The vote passed 419-3. "This is a strong, bipartisan bill that will increase the United States' economic and political leverage," said Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The legislation, which includes new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea over their weapons programs, now goes to the Senate. The bill's progress puts President Trump closer to having to choose whether to sign the popular legislation even though it could hurt his effort to reduce tensions with Moscow, which has condemned the proposed sanctions.


Trump: 'Time will tell' if Sessions stays on as attorney general

President Trump said Tuesday that "time will tell" whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions keeps his job. Trump has harshly criticized Sessions in recent days for recusing himself in the investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion by Trump associates. On Tuesday, the president turned up the heat, tweeting that Sessions had taken "a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes." With speculation rising that Sessions would be fired or forced to resign, some of the attorney general's former Senate colleagues came to his defense. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) called Sessions "a good and honorable man" who did "the right thing" by bowing out of the Russia investigation.


Texas Senate backs controversial bathroom bill

The Republican-controlled Texas Senate on Tuesday tentatively approved a bill restricting bathroom access for transgender people, with final approving looming by Wednesday. The measure would overturn local ordinances in Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas allowing transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding to their gender identity, rather than the one on their birth certificates. Conservatives who support the bill say it is needed to protect women and children. Civil rights activists say it is discriminatory. The push to pass the bill lost some strength earlier this year when North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature agreed to partially roll back a similar law after their state faced a boycott by entertainers and sports organizations.


Trump says Apple CEO promised 3 new U.S. factories

President Trump claims that Apple CEO Tim Cook has promised to build three factories in the U.S. "He's promised me three big plants — big, big, big," Trump said, according to a Tuesday report in The Wall Street Journal. Apple previously announced plans for a $1 billion fund to promote advanced manufacturing jobs in the U.S. The iPhone maker did not immediately comment on Trump's remarks. Apple supplier Corning last week said it would "immediately" invest $500 million and create 1,000 new U.S. jobs making glass for medical devices, and fellow Apple supplier Foxconn is considering making display panels in U.S. plants.


Senate committee drops subpoena of former Trump campaign manager

The Senate Judiciary Committee has dropped its subpoena for Paul Manafort, President Trump's onetime campaign chairman, to publicly testify Wednesday during a hearing on Russian election meddling because he has started submitting documents and negotiating over a transcribed interview, the committee said in a statement. Earlier Tuesday, the committee's chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and ranking Democratic member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), confirmed that a subpoena had been issued for Manafort after they had been "unable to reach an agreement for a voluntary, transcribed interview with the Judiciary Committee." Both Manafort and Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, met with the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday in a closed-door session that lasted several hours, detailing a meeting they attended in June 2016 with a Kremlin-linked attorney.


U.S. experts: North Korea could reach U.S. with missile in a year

U.S. intelligence agencies have sharply reduced their estimate of the time it would take North Korea to develop a missile that could carry a nuclear warhead to the continental U.S., The New York Times reported Tuesday, citing several administration officials briefed on the new assessment. As recently as a few weeks ago, the official estimate was that Pyongyang was still four years away from reaching that milestone, give or take a year. Now, after recent progress seen in a series of missile tests, U.S. experts believe North Korea could finish its effort to develop a weapon that could reach the mainland U.S. in one year.


S&P 500 sets another record ahead of Fed decision

The S&P 500 broke another in a string of records on Tuesday as Caterpillar and McDonald's reported quarterly earnings that beat analysts' expectations, brightening investor outlook in one of this earnings season's busiest weeks. "The majority of companies that have reported have beaten" Wall Street estimates, said Nick Raich, CEO of The Earnings Scout. "If there is a negative in these numbers, and this was expected, it is that the earnings growth rate has declined from the first quarter." On Wednesday, market watchers will be parsing the statement by Federal Reserve policy makers at the end of their two-day meeting. The Fed is not expected to raise interest rates, but it could give an indication of when it will begin unwinding assets it piled up to help stimulate the economy.


Barbara Sinatra, Frank Sinatra's widow, dies at 90

Barbara Sinatra, a philanthropist and widow of singer Frank Sinatra, died of natural causes at her home in Rancho Mirage, California, on Tuesday. She was 90. Barbara Sinatra, a former model and Las Vegas showgirl, was still married to Zeppo Marx, the youngest member of the Marx Brothers comedy team, when she started the relationship that turned into her 22-year marriage to Frank Sinatra, longer than any of the legendary singer's three other marriages. Barbara and Frank Sinatra founded a center for abused children that bears her name in 1986, and raised millions for the nonprofit through the years. Barbara Sinatra is survived by Robert Oliver Marx, her son from her first marriage, to singer Bob Oliver; his wife, Hillary; and a granddaughter, Carina Blakeley Marx.


All but 1 of 111 NFL players' brains examined had CTE

A study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that all but one of the 111 brains of deceased NFL players examined showed signs of the neurodegenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The brains were donated for scientific research, mostly by relatives who suspected the late players had exhibited symptoms of CTE — which can only be diagnosed with an autopsy — including memory loss, confusion, and depression. The players whose brains were examined spanned every position, from quarterbacks to running backs to linemen. Neuropathologist Ann McKee cautioned against making generalizations about the incidence of CTE in larger populations, but said the study made one thing clear: "It is no longer debatable whether or not there is a problem in football — there is a problem."


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