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First Read’s Morning Clips: What to Know About ‘Skinny’ Repeal

TRUMP AGENDA: What you need to know about ‘Skinny Repeal”

Benjy Sarlin, on what you need to know about “skinny repeal” : “By voting on a partial repeal bill, Republicans would avoid heated debates within their party over cuts to Medicaid, subsidies for private insurance, and which Obamacare regulations to change or eliminate. But that doesn’t mean skinny repeal would be a minor change, although it’s not clear how seriously to take the proposal, which could be a placeholder for a broader legislative plan down the road. … The most significant element is dropping the individual mandate to have insurance, which is among the most unpopular parts of Obamacare. Every Republican proposal in the House and Senate would eliminate it. Scrapping the mandate could create major policy headaches, however, including millions more uninsured, a spike in premiums, and a potential exodus of insurers from the market. If these changes came to pass, they would violate Republican promises to lower premiums and increase competition.”

Leigh Ann Caldwell and Vaughn Hillyard on the demise of BCRA: “The first vote was on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, with an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would provide for the sale of catastrophic insurance plans that are less expensive and provide less protection than allowed under Obamacare. The bill also included an amendment by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, that would add $100 billion in additional spending to help low-income people pay for premiums and co-pays, especially those who might lose Medicaid coverage due to cuts to the program. But the BCRA amendment needed 60 votes because neither the Cruz nor the Portman provisions have been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, leaving no clear indication of how much they would cost or how many people they would affect. That means it cannot pass under special reconciliation rules allowing a simple majority approval. It fell far short with nine Republicans and all Democrats voting against it.”

The New York Times: “The fact that the comprehensive replacement plan came up well short of even 50 votes was an ominous sign for Republican leaders still seeking a formula to pass final health care legislation this week.”

“Eager to punish Russia for meddling in the 2016 election, the House on Tuesday overwhelmingly backed a new package of sanctions against Moscow that prohibits President Donald Trump from waiving the penalties without first getting permission from Congress,” writes the AP. “Lawmakers passed the legislation, 419-3, clearing the far-reaching measure for action by the Senate. If senators move quickly, the bill could be ready for Trump's signature before Congress exits Washington for its regular August recess.”

Trump told the Wall Street Journal yesterday that he didn’t see Jeff Sessions’ early endorsement as “a great loyal thing” — and he still won’t say if he will fire him, either.

The Washington Post reports on Trump’s aversion to firing people — despite his TV catchphrase.

POLITICO: “Donald Trump is playing an elaborate game of chicken with Jeff Sessions. And they are not on speaking terms. Sessions has sent word to the White House that he has no plans to resign and wants to stay as attorney general even amid daily humiliation from the boss, according to two people familiar with his thinking. But he hasn't told Trump that himself.”

Jonah Goldberg in the National Review: “After every good speech, the clock restarts and the Trump train is “back on track.” Then, Trump acts like Trump again and the clock gets reset to zero. Spicer’s departure changed nothing. Firing Jeff Sessions will change nothing. Shakeups change nothing. Shake the White House snow globe all you like. The scene doesn’t change much, and when things settle down, there Trump remains, being Trump. It won’t change, because he can’t change. Character is destiny, now and forever.”

Trump is still talking about tax code overhaul, telling the Wall Street Journal “The people I care most about are the middle-income people in this country, who have gotten screwed."

Pete Williams: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned the nation's cities Tuesday that they will lose millions in grant money if they don't help federal agents deport suspected undocumented immigrants held in local jails.”

Did Trump declassify a secret CIA program with a single tweet? NBC’s Courtney Kube takes a look.

In the New York Times: “President Trump, searching for a reason to keep the United States in Afghanistan after 16 years of war, has latched on to a prospect that tantalized previous administrations: Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth, which his advisers and Afghan officials have told him could be profitably extracted by Western companies… To explore the possibilities, the White House is considering sending an envoy to Afghanistan to meet with mining officials. Last week, as the White House fell into an increasingly fractious debate over Afghanistan policy, three of Mr. Trump’s senior aides met with a chemical executive, Michael N. Silver, to discuss the potential for extracting rare-earth minerals. Mr. Silver’s firm, American Elements, specializes in these minerals, which are used in a range of high-tech products.”

From Chad Pergram of FOX: “Feds arrest IT staffer for Wasserman Schultz trying to leave country.”

OFF TO THE RACES: DNC spends money in Virginia

AL-SEN: Roy Moore is facing backlash for calling Islam “a false religion.”

MI-GOV: The Michigan governor’s race has gotten expensive fast.

NJ-GOV: “New Jersey Democrat Phil Murphy has chosen the former leader of the state Assembly as his running mate in the race to replace outgoing Republican Gov. Chris Christie, adding legislative experience to his ticket.”

VA-GOV: Ed Gillespie is up with his first TV ads.

From NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald: “The Democratic National Committee is sending $1.5 million and several top staffers to Virginia to boost gubernatorial nominee Ralph Northam, whose war chest was depleted after a tough primary campaign, an official told NBC News. It's a significant financial and personnel investment for a national party that has underperformed in fundraising expectations and a reflection of the importance of this year's elections in Virginia, where Democrats are also hoping to make gains in the House of Delegates and hold onto state-wide offices.”