IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

First Read's Morning Clips: All Eyes on the Senate Health Care Rollout

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day.
Image: Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., (C) joined by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, (L) speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill on July 30, 2013 in Washington. FileJ. Scott Applewhite / AP File

TRUMP AGENDA: Here comes the Senate GOP health care bill…

NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell: “Republican senators are expected to learn the contents of legislation to overhaul health care on Thursday as their party leadership continues to work toward a vote on it before they leave town for the July 4 recess. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that he would release a "discussion draft" of legislation to both his Republican members and the public later this week, and he acknowledged for the first time that a vote would "likely" take place next week.”

The New York Times: “Middle Class, Not Poor, Could Suffer if Trump Ends Health Payments.” More: “For months, the Trump administration has threatened to stop billions of dollars in payments that lower out-of-pocket medical costs for nearly six million low-income patients. Mr. Trump’s hedging has created deep uncertainty in the Affordable Care Act markets, the impact of which may become clearer on Wednesday, the deadline for insurers to say whether they plan to sell next year on the federal marketplace created under the health law and to file rate requests….If the federal government stops reimbursing insurers, many insurers have said they will make up for it by raising premiums. Paradoxically, that will primarily hurt not poor customers but millions of middle-class people … who earn too much to qualify for premium assistance under the law and will bear the full brunt of any rate increase.”

POLITICO has more on the looming deadline for insurers — and how uncertainty is making them skittish.

From the Washington Post: “President Trump’s budget calls for sharply reducing funding for programs that shelter the poor and combat homelessness — with a notable exception: It leaves intact a type of federal housing subsidy that is paid directly to private landlords. One of those landlords is Trump himself, who earns millions of dollars each year as a part-owner of Starrett City, the nation’s largest subsidized housing complex. Trump’s 4 percent stake in the Brooklyn complex earned him at least $5 million between January of last year and April 15, according to his recent financial disclosure.”

The New York Times reports that Mike Flynn continued to receive briefings even after blackmail concerns surfaced. “Senior officials across the government became convinced in January that the incoming national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had become vulnerable to Russian blackmail. At the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — agencies responsible for keeping American secrets safe from foreign spies — career officials agreed that Mr. Flynn represented an urgent problem. Yet nearly every day for three weeks, the new C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, sat in the Oval Office and briefed President Trump on the nation’s most sensitive intelligence — with Mr. Flynn listening. Mr. Pompeo has not said whether C.I.A. officials left him in the dark about their views of Mr. Flynn, but one administration official said Mr. Pompeo did not share any concerns about Mr. Flynn with the president.”

The Wall Street Journal: “The Senate and House intelligence committees on Wednesday will hold two open hearings examining Russian hacking efforts during the 2016 election, featuring testimony from current and former Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials as well as state election directors.”

Jeff Sessions has retained a personal attorney.

One of us(!) looks at how Trump’s press conference record stacks up against his predecessors. (Spoiler: He’s lagging behind.)

OFF TO THE RACES: About the GOP’s big win last night

Alex Seitz-Wald has our dispatch from Georgia. “Republican Karen Handel won the special congressional election in Georgia on Tuesday, fending off a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff in the heavily Republican House district. Handel’s victory in the closely fought contest, which drew national interest and was the most expensive House race ever at over $50 million spent by both sides, comes as good news for President Donald Trump. Democrats had promoted the contest as a referendum on the president.”

Dave Wasserman, in the Cook Political Report: “Last night's results were far from a disaster for Democrats, and Republicans shouldn't be tempted to believe their House majority is safe. In fact, their majority is still very much at risk.”

The New York Times: “The surprisingly easy victory for Ms. Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state and Fulton County official, averted a humiliating upset for Republicans in an affluent, suburban Atlanta district — Georgia’s Sixth — that they have controlled for nearly 40 years. And it showed that Republicans skeptical of Mr. Trump remained comfortable supporting more conventional candidates from their party. The apparent success of relentless Republican attacks linking Mr. Ossoff to the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, and her “San Francisco values” also affirmed the efficacy of tying Democratic candidates in conservative districts to their brethren in more liberal parts of the country.”

And the Washington Post: “Ossoff chose civility and it didn’t work. How do Democrats beat Trump?”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on what Jon Ossoff will do next: “Ossoff, 30, now faces a vexing dilemma: Does he challenge Karen Handel in 2018, this time facing an entrenched incumbent in a race that won’t get nearly as much national attention? Does he run for state office? Or does he take a breather from politics? The Democrat has said that he would have to talk with his fiancée about whether he’d launch another grueling campaign for the U.S. House seat next year. And he’s scoffed at talk he’d join the crowded governor’s race. But in his concession speech late Tuesday he hinted his political career is far from over. He called his race the “beginning of something much bigger than us” and urged his supporters to stay involved in politics.”

And POLITICO notes that Trump is spiking the ball — and Republicans are relived.

And don’t sleep on the unexpectedly close results in South Carolina. From the Post and Courier: “Norman’s home county of York provided the final push he needed to carry the election, handing him around 54 percent of the more than 37,000 votes cast in the county, according to unofficial returns. But Parnell still came within about 3 percentage points of beating Norman in a district that Mulvaney won by 20 percentage points in November over Democrat Fran Person, a former aide to Vice President Joe Biden. Democrats worked to get turnout for their underdog. Parnell received more than twice the number of votes Tuesday than all of the ballots cast in the three-candidate Democratic primary in May. Norman received 15 percent more votes Tuesday than the entire seven-candidate GOP primary field last month.”