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First Read’s Morning Clips: Skinny Repeal Goes Down

TRUMP AGENDA: Skinny Repeal goes down to defeat

NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell, on last night’s failure of the GOP’s pared-down Obamacare repeal bill: “Senate Republicans failed to pass a pared-down Obamacare repeal bill early Friday on a vote of 49-51 that saw three of their own dramatically break ranks. Three Republican senators — John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — and all Democrats voted against the bill, dealing a stinging defeat to President Donald Trump who made repeal of Obamacare a cornerstone of his presidential campaign….Several Republicans said they did not know where McCain would fall, and there were audible gasps in the chamber when he turned down his thumb to indicate his decision. The renowned maverick had committed perhaps his most rebellious move ever, defying his party and president on the one issue that had united the Republicans for nearly a decade. He walked off the Senate floor saying little. “I thought it was the right vote,” he said a short time later while getting into his car.”

From McCain’s statement: “From the beginning, I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people. The so-called ‘skinny repeal’ amendment the Senate voted on today would not accomplish those goals. While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens. The Speaker's statement that the House would be ‘willing’ to go to conference does not ease my concern that this shell of a bill could be taken up and passed at any time.”

What next? The Washington Post: “The bold move by the nation’s most famous senator stunned his colleagues and possibly put the Senate on the verge of protracted bipartisan talks that McCain is unlikely to witness as he begins treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer.”

How it played in McCain’s home state, via the Arizona Republic: “Sen. John McCain torpedoes Republican health-care effort, kills 'skinny repeal' bill.”

Insurers are relieved by the bill’s failure but worried about what happens next. The Wall Street Journal: “Insurers had already been pressing for legislation aimed at stabilizing the marketplaces, an idea that is likely to now move into the spotlight with the apparent collapse of Republicans’ efforts to repeal the ACA, also known as Obamacare. But it’s not clear that any bill can move forward fast enough to affect the markets for next year, as insurers must file rates by mid-August and make final decisions about participation by late September.”

The Washington Post weighs in on how female senators are increasingly faced by criticism and even insults from their male colleagues.

POLITICO notes that Mitch McConnell is blaming Democrats for the loss: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed "regret" and "disappointment" immediately after the GOP failed to pass a minimalist Obamacare repeal bill early Friday, blaming congressional Democrats for not engaging "in a serious way" in the efforts to remedy the health care law.”

Meanwhile, Congress has overwhelmingly voted to impose new sanctions on Russia — but will Trump veto it?

House Republicans have approved $1.6 billion for the Trump border wall, writes the AP.

Of course, don’t miss Anthony Scaramucci’s profane rant to the New Yorker.

Republican strategist Alex Conant writes in POLITICO why Trump’s White House won’t stop leaking: “Trump’s White House is not leaky because of a few bad apples. The No. 1 reason why it leaks is because his team lacks unity. It’s not without irony that many of the leaks are about the very staff infighting that is causing the leaks… The leaks are also the result of deep disloyalty, for which the president has only himself to blame. Trump demands blind loyalty from his subordinates. But blind loyalty does not exist in politics, except among sycophants and people without principles—neither of whom make for trustworthy aides. If Trump wants loyalty from his Cabinet and staff, he must recognize that loyalty is a two-way street and show them more respect than he has to date. … Finally, even if the team is loyal and united, a political organization that does not promote self-discipline will always suffer from leaks. Washington is filled with journalists and lobbyists who built their careers trading information. The temptation to curry favor with powerful influencers is real, especially for aides with big egos or little experience. Obviously, this White House has plenty of both, which makes it even more important that Trump model the behavior he wants to see in others.”

Jeff Sessions says he’ll stay in the job as long as Donald Trump wants him to serve.

Another important story not to be missed, in the New York Times: “The Trump administration abruptly waded into the culture wars over gay rights this week, signaling in three separate actions that it will use the powers of the federal government to roll back civil rights for gay and transgender people.”

OFF TO THE RACES: GOP divide in Indiana

POLITICO asks. Could Seth Moulton be president?

AL-SEN: Mo Brooks says Mitch McConnell “has got to go.”

IN-SEN: “Associates of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence appear to be at odds over the best candidate to run for a hotly-contested U.S. Senate seat in Indiana,” writes the Indy Star. “For months, multiple people close to Pence, along with his brother Greg Pence, have thrown their support to Rep. Luke Messer as the Republican choice to run against Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly in the 2018 election. On Thursday, Rex Early, the Trump Indiana State Chairman, and Tony Samuel, the vice chairman, joined the fight, sending a letter suggesting support for Rep. Todd Rokita.”

MD-GOV: POLITICO: “Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) plans on bypassing runs for governor and reelection and has told associates he is seriously considering a bid for president in 2020, according to two Democratic sources. Five Democratic sources in the state said buzz about the Delaney's intentions for 2018 and 2020 has been building for weeks, with increasing chatter about a presidential bid. Delaney, who could self-fund a run for governor, will skip a challenge against popular GOP Gov. Larry Hogan. He will also leave Democrats to defend his district, which he nearly lost in 2014. Democrats in the state believe he will announce his plans in a Washington Post op-ed on Friday.”

NJ-GOV: Chris Christie says that a Democrat is leading the race to replace him because “People get tired of hearing no. They want to hear yes.”

Kim Guadagno has picked Marco Rubio’s New Jersey fundraiser as her running mate.

WV-SEN: What’s going on in West Virginia? Real Clear Politics looks at how the race is shaping up and why.