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10 things you need to know today: July 27, 2017

Trump bans transgender people from serving in the military, the Senate votes against a straight repeal of ObamaCare, and more


Trump bans transgender people from serving in military

President Trump on Wednesday announced a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military, an abrupt reversal of a policy by former President Barack Obama that allowed them to serve openly in the armed forces. The move ends years of policy changes that have slowly opened the ranks of the military to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Trump said the military can't focus on "decisive and overwhelming victory" if it is burdened with the "disruption" and cost of accommodating transgender troops. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) criticized the decision, saying, "There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military." Transgender soldiers said they had served their country with honor, and that being transgender does not affect anyone else.


The Senate rejects straight ObamaCare repeal, moves on to 'skinny repeal'

The Senate on Wednesday rejected a proposal to repeal most of ObamaCare's central elements without an immediate replacement. The proposal didn't come close to passing, with seven Republicans defecting and voting with Democrats. The bill's failure underscored the divisions among Republicans that are preventing the party from delivering on its vow to dismantle former President Barack Obama's health-care law, his signature domestic achievement. The vote increased the likelihood that Senate GOP leaders would next turn to a more modest, "skinny repeal" proposal that would throw out only a few key parts of ObamaCare, such as the individual mandate to buy insurance.


CBO: 'Skinny repeal' health law would leave 16 million more uninsured

Senate Republicans' "skinny repeal" bill to undo ObamaCare's individual and employer mandates could result in 16 million Americans losing their health insurance, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in a report issued Wednesday. The full contents of the "skinny bill" remain unclear, because it won't be released until after a voting session that is expected to start Thursday. A senior Democratic aide told The Hill that the CBO said if the bill includes defunding Planned Parenthood and repealing the Community Health Center Fund and the Prevention and Public Health Fund, premiums could rise by 20 percent every year over those anticipated under the current law. Senate Democrats released the CBO's estimate on Wednesday evening, after the Senate rejected in a vote of 45-55 a proposal to repeal ObamaCare without immediately replacing it.


Trump reportedly considering recess appointment to replace Sessions if he quits

President Trump, still upset with Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Department of Justice's Russia investigation, has been talking with his close advisers about possibly replacing Sessions through a recess appointment next month if Sessions resigns, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing four people briefed on the discussions. Trump has been raging at Sessions in public and via Twitter, and some advisers say he wants Sessions to resign rather than be fired, setting up a clear need for a replacement. Because Trump often changes his mind and floats ideas and hypothetical situations, some advisers told the Post they think he's not really contemplating making a recess appointment, and is only venting about his frustration with Sessions.


Lawmakers strike deal paving way for Senate to approve Russia sanctions bill

Lawmakers reached an agreement on Wednesday that could set the stage for the Senate to approve a bill to impose new sanctions on Russia over its election meddling as early as this week. The legislation, already passed by the House, also would prevent President Trump from easing them without congressional approval. "I am glad to announce that we have reached an agreement that will allow us to send sanctions legislation to the president's desk," Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement Wednesday evening. Russia has threatened to retaliate if the sanctions are put into effect, and the European Union has said a unilateral move by Washington against Russia could hurt its energy security. The bill also seeks to step up sanctions against Iran and North Korea over their weapons programs.


Trump to nominate Brownback as religious ambassador

President Trump plans to nominate Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) to serve as his ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, the White House said Wednesday. If confirmed by the Senate, Brownback, a social conservative former senator, will monitor and respond to global threats to religious freedom as head of the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom. Some conservative religious groups had pushed for the appointment, but Brownback, 60, is deeply unpopular in his home state, after he cut income taxes and created budget gaps that forced lawmakers to cut spending and raise taxes in a case of failed trickle-down economics.


Tillerson denies news reports that he might quit

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday dismissed news reports that he was considering stepping down, saying he was "not going anywhere." Tillerson, who served as CEO of energy giant ExxonMobil before becoming President Trump's top diplomat, said he would continue to serve in his position "as long as the president lets me." The so-called "Rexit" speculation began after Trump started publicly criticizing another Cabinet member, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, over his recusal from the investigation into Russia's election meddling.


Fed holds key interest rate unchanged

The Federal Reserve left its key interest rate unchanged on Wednesday after its two-day July policy meeting. The Fed signaled that as long as the economy continues showing improvement it would start "relatively soon" to gradually reduce the bond holdings it acquired as part of its efforts to stimulate the economy after the Great Recession. Fed leaders have said they plan to move carefully, as the job market strengthens but inflation falls farther from the U.S. central bank's 2 percent target rate.


Foxconn to build $10 billion factory in Wisconsin

Apple supplier Foxconn announced Wednesday that it planned to build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin. Republicans touted the news as a win for President Trump, who has made creating U.S. jobs a priority, as well as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and House Speaker Paul Ryan, in whose district the plant will be located. Walker said the factory, which will make flat-screen displays, will create 13,000 jobs, with average pay of $53,000 plus benefits. He said the state would offer $3 billion in economic incentives to pave the way for the deal. Democrats criticized the high cost of the plan.


1 dead, 7 injured in ride accident at Ohio State Fair

One person was killed and seven others were injured, three critically, on Wednesday when they were thrown from a ride at the Ohio State Fair. The victims were whipped away from the ride when their seats snapped off the "Fireball" ride, which lifts riders up and spins them. "At least two (people) flew through the air at least 20 feet before landing on their backs on the concrete," said witness Rhonda Burgess. An 18-year-old man died after being flung into the air. The ride passed a safety inspection earlier in the day. Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he was "terribly saddened by this accident" and the loss of the young man's life.


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