When members of Congress return to Washington next week after their long spring recess, both parties plan to focus on passing a spending bill to keep the federal government running past April 28. When Congress returns next week, President Trump wants House Republicans to take up the American Health Care Act again, with a new amendment, so he will be able to point to a concrete accomplishment in his first 100 days in office; his 100th day is April 29.
"Congress usually cannot take on two big things at once," The New York Times says. Five days to pass a spending bill, The Washington Post adds, is "a tight timeline under the most generous of circumstance that would be nearly impossible to meet if House leaders also try to force a vote on the repeal legislation." In theory, Democrats and Republicans could pass a very short-term stopgap spending bill, but a new GOP push to pass the AHCA, which repeals large parts of the Affordable Care Act, would not put Democrats in a very cooperative mood.
The first attempt to pass the AHCA failed very publicly last month. But at a news conference on Thursday, Trump said "the plan gets better and better and better, and it's gotten really, really good, and a lot of people are liking it a lot," adding he thinks the House can pass that as well as a spending bill. "We have a good chance of getting it soon," Trump said of the AHCA. "I'd like to say next week, but it will be — I believe we will get it."
Hopes of passing the health-care bill rest on an amendment negotiated by relative moderate Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). The draft plan would allow states to seek waivers to requirements that insurers offer essential health benefits and not charge more to people with pre-existing conditions, if the state maintained a high-risk pool. (Jeff Spross has more details at The Week.)
Even if House Republicans get the plan translated into legislative language and get it scored by the Congressional Budget Office, there's no guarantee it would pass. The amendment "really doesn't address the concerns that I had," Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.) told The New York Times. Fellow moderate Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) agreed it "does nothing to change my views," criticizing any focus "on an arbitrary 100-day deadline." Peter Weber
Spanish police confirmed Monday that they shot and killed 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaquob, the man suspected to have driven the van down Barcelona's La Rambla on Thursday in a terrorist attack that killed 13 people in the city center. Police shot Abouyaaquob in the outskirts of Subirats, a region west of Barcelona, after an extensive manhunt took place over the weekend. He was apparently wearing a fake suicide belt.
Abouyaaquob escaped from Thursday's crash scene on foot and was believed to be the last remaining member of a wider terrorist cell suspected of planning last week's attacks in Barcelona and the coastal city of Cambrils, where another vehicle attack killed one and injured six. Kimberly Alters
GOP Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) isn't so sure President Trump will be the Republican Party's presidential nominee in 2020. While Trump apparently doesn't think it's too early to start campaigning for 2020 — he's holding a campaign-style rally Tuesday night in Phoenix, after all — Collins said in a MSNBC interview Monday that she thinks it's "far too early to tell now" what the future will hold for Trump.
"Do you think he will end up the party's nominee in 2020?" MSNBC's Hallie Jackson asked. "It's too difficult to say," Collins said.
Collins, notably, did not support Trump as the party's nominee in 2016, and she was one of three Republicans to oppose the party's ObamaCare repeal. At this point, Collins said she is particularly disappointed in Trump's hesitancy to directly condemn white supremacists in the wake of the Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalist rally. "I think the president failed to meet the standard we should have expected a president to do in a time like that," Collins said.
Watch the interview below. Becca Stanek
The New York Times has been talking about today's total eclipse since 1932. On Monday, ahead of the solar eclipse that will sweep the country from Oregon to South Carolina, the Times shared an archived clip from 85 years ago that accurately predicted the totality of today's eclipse:
New York Times in 1932 discusses today's eclipse: pic.twitter.com/pHJYOod2Oq
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) August 21, 2017
Citing a study by Dr. S.A. Mitchell, director of the Leander McCormick Observatory of the University of Virginia, the Times warned that if viewers didn't catch the Aug. 31, 1932 eclipse, they'd be waiting until Aug. 21, 2017 for "conditions that are really favorable and promise scientific success."
With that prediction seemingly coming true, we'll have to wait and see if the Times is also right in predicting the next similarly phenomenal solar eclipse — mark your calendars for April 8, 2024. Becca Stanek
How many voters could ousted White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon take from President Trump? The question has become pertinent since Bannon's firing Friday, as it is still unclear how the once and future (err, current) Breitbart News chief will use his role in relation to the president.
Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight has done the math: By Enten's calculations, the "Bannon wing" of the Republican Party — which he defines as "Trump voters who are pro-police, against free trade, against the U.S. playing an active role (militarily and diplomatically) in the international community, strongly against illegal immigration, and in favor of more infrastructure spending" — accounts for about 15 percent of the GOP voter base. That's the proportion of Republicans who agree with Bannon on all five of those points, though there are certainly more who support only a plurality of these positions. Only 2 percent of Republicans disagree with all five.
While 15 percent is not a huge number, it's more than enough to swing an election. For comparison, Enten notes, Hispanic voters for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election accounted for just 12 percent of her vote. And in the GOP primaries, Trump won only 45 percent of Republican support, a figure that makes 15 percent look pretty crucial.
Of course, it's not as if Bannon could simply command these voters to drop Trump, but he is positioned to significantly influence their assessment of Trump's service come 2020. Bonnie Kristian
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk and Google artificial intelligence developer Mustafa Suleyman head a list of 116 tech experts who implored the United Nations to preemptively ban lethal autonomous weapons — in layman's terms, killer robots — before it's too late.
"Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend," the experts warned, in a letter reported Monday. "These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora's box is opened, it will be hard to close."
Central to the experts' concern is how killer robots could change the risk calculations and casualties of war. While autonomous weapons may make battlefields safer for soldiers who can be removed from the scene, the same is not true for civilians who have the misfortune to be nearby. A killer robot's ethics will only be as good as its programming, which could vary widely depending on the government or terrorist organization controlling it. Autonomous weapons also raise troubling and complicated questions of accountability and recourse in the event of mistakes.
The letter asks the U.N. to add killer robots to list of banned conventional weapons, which currently includes landmines, intentionally blinding lasers, and other technologies "deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects." Bonnie Kristian
Worried you won't be able to escape the confines of your cubicle to catch the solar eclipse? NASA has you covered.
Beginning at 12 p.m. ET Monday, NASA will start streaming a four-hour-long show that will feature coverage from 12 locations along the eclipse's corridor, which spans from Oregon to South Carolina. The space agency will offer "images captured before, during, and after the eclipse by 11 spacecraft, at least three NASA aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station." The show will also pop in on various celebrations and events happening across the country so you can feel like you're part of the festivities.
Watch NASA's live-stream below or via NASA Television, Facebook Live, Twitter/Periscope, Twitch TV, or Ustream. The preview show kicks off at 12 p.m. ET, and the eclipse coverage starts at 1 p.m. ET. Becca Stanek
Advertisers have rapidly and steadily fled Breitbart News this year as the site's reputation is increasingly tied to the alt-right. So far, more than 2,500 companies have jumped ship, reports Sleeping Giants, an organization that describes its mission as stopping "racist and sexist media by stopping its ad dollars."
Guys, this is an old post, but we're still out here. Climbing towards 2600 advertisers down now. Way more than 26 remain. https://t.co/TRT2Uhj0d3
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) August 21, 2017
Sleeping Giants has spent months encouraging its supporters to take screenshots of ads next to objectionable content on Breitbart and politely tweet a complaint with the image to the company involved. While the organization did not specify how many businesses are still advertising at Breitbart, The Independent reports Amazon is currently among them — albeit indirectly, via the ad services it uses. The company may soon depart, however, as employees have petitioned chief executive Jeff Bezos to cut all such ties.
Ousted White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon is returning to this diminished Breitbart after his departure from the Trump administration. His post-firing remarks do not make clear what his approach to President Trump, his former boss, will be in this new role. Bonnie Kristian