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June 25, 2017

Conservative Republican opponents of the GOP's health-care proposal in the Senate have labeled the ObamaCare replacement package "ObamaCare lite," but the bill is taking fire from the center and left, too.

A group of moderate Republican senators are raising concerns about proposed Medicaid changes that would mean significantly less federal funding in their states. The fifth Republican senator to announce his opposition to the bill, Nevada's Dean Heller, specifically cited Medicaid in his Friday announcement that his vote is currently a "no." Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) have not formally opposed the legislation so far, but both centrist Republicans have mentioned similar considerations.

Meanwhile, progressive critics warn the legislation could produce a "death spiral" in insurance markets in which premiums rise as healthier people — no longer bound by ObamaCare's individual mandate — drop coverage, producing a cycle of even higher premiums and fewer insurance customers.

President Trump fired back at critics twice on Twitter Saturday, noting premium hikes under the current system and writing that he "cannot imagine that these very fine Republican Senators would allow the American people to suffer a broken ObamaCare any longer!" The health-care bill can't pass the Senate if more than two Republicans vote against it. Bonnie Kristian

11:47a.m.

"I think the evidence is overwhelming" that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the murder of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on Face the Nation Sunday. "I don't think we can sweep this under the rug."

Paul reiterated his push to end U.S. arms sales to the Saudi government in retaliation for Khashoggi's killing, decrying the administration's plan to sanction other parties involved. "I think sanctions are pretending to do something without really doing anything," the senator said.

"Most of these people [being sanctioned] are in prison, other than the crown prince," Paul continued. "We need to punish who ordered this, who's in charge. ... If the president wants to act strongly, he should cut off the arm sales" over Khashoggi and because of civilian deaths in the U.S.-supported, Saudi-led intervention in Yemen's civil war.

President Trump continues to express skepticism that MBS is implicated in Khashoggi's death, and he suggested in an interview airing on Fox Sunday he might keep a close alliance with the Saudi prince even if he is guilty of the journalist's murder. He has repeatedly resisted calls to end weapons deals with Riyadh, claiming the economic toll on the United States would be too high.

Watch Paul's comments in context below. Bonnie Kristian

11:30a.m.

President Trump discussed possible changes among his top staff, the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and more in a Fox News Sunday interview with Chris Wallace set to air at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern.

"I have three or four or five positions that I'm thinking about [changing]," Trump said of his Cabinet lineup. "Of that, maybe it's going to end up being two. But I need flexibility." He suggested dissatisfaction with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in particular.

On Khashoggi's death, Trump maintained his skepticism despite Friday's report that the CIA has concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the murder. Even if MBS lied to his face, Trump said, "I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good." After all, Trump mused, "Who could really know [whether MBS lied]? But I can say this, he's got many people now that say he had no knowledge."

And asked by Wallace to grade his own presidency, Trump gave himself an A+ and inquired if a better mark is possible. "Look, I hate to do it, but I will do it," he said. "I would give myself an A+. Is that enough? Can I go higher than that?" Watch that clip below. Bonnie Kristian

11:04a.m.

Rain is forecast for areas affected by California's deadly Camp Fire in the coming week, with mixed effects anticipated.

The water may help contain the wildfire, which has claimed 76 lives and burned more than 100,000 acres. However, areas already burned lack live plant cover on uneven ground. "It'll bring much-needed relief to the firefighters and to the air quality," Patrick Burke of the National Weather Service told Reuters, "but there's a potential for dangerous mudslides wherever vegetation is burned away on slopes and hills."

More than 1,000 people are listed as missing in connection to the fire, but authorities say that list may contain duplicate names. Some of those listed as missing have called the police to say they are not in any danger, and the total missing count is expected to shrink as further information becomes available. Bonnie Kristian

9:57a.m.

Some of the Central American migrants traveling by caravan across Mexico toward the United States have reached the border city of Tijuana and stalled, uncertain of their next steps. Many have already been denied entry to the U.S. and are considering their alternatives, like accepting Mexico's offer of jobs and basic resettlement assistance.

"If we had work, we would stay. This has been very tiring," Orbelina Orellana, a mother from Honduras, told Reuters. "I cry a lot to not be able to feed them as I’d like," she said of her three children. "I just want an opportunity."

Complicating the decision is a newly hostile attitude toward migrants in Tijuana, which now has a conservative mayor who has argued "human rights should be reserved for righteous humans," a category from which he excludes the caravan migrants. Some Tijuana residents have scuffled with the migrants and plan to rally against their presence in the city Sunday. Bonnie Kristian

9:46a.m.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) is among many who have called for the resignation of a local official, Leavenworth County Commissioner Louis Klemp, for a remark in which he used the phrase "master race," a concept from Nazism.

Klemp, who is white, told consultant Triveece Penelton, who is black, they were together "part of the master race" because they both have a gap in their teeth. "I don't want you to think I'm picking on you, because we're part of the master race," Klemp said. "You know you've got a gap in your teeth. You're the master race. Don't ever forget that."

Klemp has defended the comment as a joke, and another Leavenworth County official said Klemp has repeatedly used the phrase about gapped teeth in the past. However, Leavenworth's mayor said Klemp has been more inappropriate at other public occasions and this remark demonstrates a lack of "common decency."

"Racial and discriminative language have no place in our society,' Colyer said Saturday, "and most especially when spoken by someone holding public office." Bonnie Kristian

9:31a.m.

One person was accidentally killed and more than 200 injured in large-scale protests against higher fuel taxes in France on Saturday.

An estimated 250,000 people, many wearing yellow safety vests, turned out in about 2,000 locations around the country to block roads and highways. The new tax was supported by French President Emmanuel Macron, and demonstrators called for his resignation. Macron's approval rating was at a dismal 21 percent as of October.

"We are not political people; we do not belong to a union; we are citizens," said one protester near Paris, Didier Lacombe. "The taxes are rising on everything. They put taxes on top of taxes. It is not the tax on gas; it's everything. The injustice is greater and greater."

"The price of fuel is as politically and sociologically sensitive as the price of wheat in the ancient regime," French public opinion researcher Jerome Fourquet told The New York Times. High wheat prices were among the factors leading to the French Revolution. Bonnie Kristian

7:30a.m.

Steve Carrell hosted Saturday Night Live for the third time, and after much teasing over whether he'd ever reboot The Office, he got down to the business of the evening: mocking President Trump in character as Amazon's Jeff Bezos.

"As you know, Amazon just announced the location of its two new headquarters in New York and Virginia, and everyone — except for the people who live there and the people who live in all the places we didn't choose — is thrilled," Carrell as Bezos began.

He quickly shifted to address the rumors head on: Did he choose these locations, one where Trump grew up and one close to the White House, to overshadow the president? "That's simply not true," SNL's Bezos said. "I chose our locations because they were ideal for growing business, not just to make Donald Trump think about how I'm literally 100 times richer than he is."

And the new locations aren't Amazon's only exciting news, Bezos noted. The company is also debuting delivery drones humanized by suspiciously Trumpian wigs, as well as Amazon Caravan, a special new delivery service exclusive to Trump properties. Watch the full sketch below. Bonnie Kristian

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