First Read's Morning Clips: McCain's Surgery Delays Health Care Vote

Image: McCain speaks with reporters about the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn
Sen. John McCain speaks with reporters on the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 14 in Washington.Win McNamee / Getty Images

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TRUMP AGENDA: McCain's surgery delays Senate health care vote

The big health care development over the weekend: John McCain's recovery from surgery means Republicans will have to wait to move the bill forward.

The New York Times: "Mr. McCain's surgeons are not giving interviews. His communications director, Julie Tarallo, said more information would be released when it became available. Aides to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said it was unclear how long the delay would last."

The Washington Post notes that GOP opponents of the bill are energized by the delay.

The Wall Street Journal: "In his latest attempt to rewrite President Barack Obama's signature health-care law, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) retained a 3.8% investment-income tax and a 0.9% payroll tax that apply to individuals earning more than $200,000 and married couples earning more than $250,000. The decision to keep the taxes instead of repealing them satisfied senators such as Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee who were worried about losing revenue sources and about the optics of reducing taxes on high-income households. But it infuriated conservatives who see the taxes as a drag on economic growth and view removing them as an important part of repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act."

Republicans are starting to admit that they badly misjudged the challenges of the repeal effort, POLITICO notes.

Some governors weren't happy with Mike Pence for taking a "factually challenged jab Friday at Ohio and Gov. John Kasich," the Columbus Dispatch notes.

One of us(!), on our unique new NBC/WSJ poll. "President Donald Trump's job approval rating in the American counties that fueled his 2016 victory stands at 50 percent, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of these "Trump counties." Fifty percent of adults in these counties — consisting of Republicans, Democrats and independents — approve of the president's job performance (including 29 percent who strongly approve), while 46 percent disapprove (including 35 percent who do so strongly)."

Another new poll from the Washington Post and ABC News shows Trump's overall approval rating at just 36 percent.

Donald Trump's lawyer insists that nothing "nefarious" happened in Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer last year — and he questioned why the Secret Service "allowed these people in."

Outgoing ethics chief Walter Shaub Jr. gave a two-hour interview to the Washington Post to urge an overhaul to the federal ethics system.

NBC's Dartunorro Clark writes on how a bipartisan voter data organization is shaming the Trump voter fraud commission.

New American Economy executive director Jeremy Robbins writes that Republicans could get a big (and unexpected) legislative victory this year — on immigration reform.

The Washington Post: "The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials."

OFF TO THE RACES: The Battle in 'Bama

AL-SEN: Alex Seitz-Wald takes a big look at the GOP civil war to replace Jeff Sessions. notes that the Alabama GOP Senate candidates are pushing for straight repeal of the ACA.

CA-SEN: Caitlyn Jenner is considering a Senate run, the LA Times reports.

FL-GOV: Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala will announce his gubernatorial plans on August 16, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

MD-GOV: Democrat Richard Madaleno is getting in the race today.

WI-SEN: "A state's veterans board member and potential U.S. Senate candidate didn't directly respond to safety concerns that critics raised to him about Wisconsin's largest veterans home over the past four years, a Journal Sentinel review of his emails shows. The first documented action on King home taken by former Marine Kevin Nicholson is a request he made in March for a report on the state home in Waupaca County, which followed months of critical news stories about it."