WITH TWO MORE REPUBLICANS DEFECTING, MCCONNELL GIVES UP ON SENATE HEALTHCARE BILL: After Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran said Monday evening they would not vote to advance the GOP healthcare bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he would abandon the effort to repeal and immediately replace Obamacare. McConnell said in a statement Monday night that the two senators defections made it “apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.” Instead, McConnell endorsed an approach supported by President Donald Trump to repeal the Affordable Care Act without immediately replacing it with different health care legislation.
TRUMP VENTS HIS ANGER OVER HEALTHCARE BILL FAILURE ON TWITTER, AS USUAL: President Donald Trump blasted congressional Democrats and "a few Republicans" Tuesday over the failure of the GOP effort to rewrite the Obama health care law, and warned, "we will return." Trump's early morning tweet unleashed a barrage of criticism at Congress over the collapse of the GOP's flagship legislative priority. For seven years, the party has pledged to repeal President Barack Obama's law. "Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard," Trump tweeted Tuesday morning, but said, "We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans." He added, "As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!"
TRUMP THREATENS ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AGAINST VENEZUELA'S SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT: Venezuela's opposition called Monday for a 24-hour nationwide strike to pressure President Nicolas Maduro to drop plans to rewrite the constitution while the United States threatened "strong and swift economic actions" against his socialist administration if it ignores the will of voters in a referendum. President Donald Trump joined other world leaders in urging Maduro to heed Sunday's symbolic plebiscite in which millions of voters rejected the plan to remake Venezuela's political system, which the opposition calls a power grab by the ruling party as it struggles with shortages, inflation and more than 100 days of anti-government protests. "The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles," Trump said in a statement. "If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions."
FORMER PROSECUTOR IN ROCKINGHAM COUNTY PLEADS GUILTY IN WIFE-SWAPPING SALARY SCHEME: A former North Carolina district attorney has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from allegations that he and another former prosecutor hired each other’s wives to collect salaries and do little work. Media outlets report former Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer pleaded guilty Monday in Wake County Superior Court to a misdemeanor charge of failure to discharge the duties of his office. As part of the plea agreement, Blitzer paid back $48,000 in unearned money and his wife will not be charged. Blitzer and ex-Person and Caswell County District Attorney Wallace Bradsher were charged in late June. Authorities say they created the scheme to get around a state restriction on hiring spouses.
REPUBLICAN SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER FACES REMOVAL AFTER CRIMINAL CHARGES: A school board member in North Carolina faces calls for resignation following misdemeanor charges. The Hendersonville Times-News reports the Henderson County Board of Public Education will hold a special meeting July 24 to call for the resignation of Michael Absher. The move stems from two misdemeanor charges related to separate incidents. In May, Absher was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile in connection with helping a teen drink alcohol. The Henderson County Sheriff's Office says the teen was a resident of Absher's nonprofit Only Hope WNC shelter for homeless youth. Absher was charged in June with communicating threats after an altercation with an East Henderson High School staff member while delivering medication to a student. Absher took a voluntary leave of absence from the board in May.