Wednesday News: No big surprise


WHITE MALE CANDIDATE WINS GOP PRIMARY FOR CONGRESS: State Rep. Greg Murphy won Tuesday’s runoff for the Republican nomination in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District in a race that exposed a gender rift among U.S. House Republicans and attracted attention from some of the biggest names in Republican politics. Murphy will be the favorite to represent the GOP-leaning district in Eastern North Carolina. He joins Democrat Allen Thomas, Libertarian Tim Harris and Constitution Party candidate Greg Holt on the ballot for the Sept. 10 general election. Murphy, a urologic surgeon from Greenville, won the nomination over first-time candidate Joan Perry, a Kinston pediatrician, in a bid to replace Walter B. Jones, Jr., in the House. With all precinct reporting, Murphy had 59.7 percent of the vote and topped Perry by nearly 7,000 total votes.

STALEMATE CONTINUES OVER BUDGET AND MEDICAID EXPANSION: A Republican-sponsored Medicaid expansion proposal was shooting through the House on Tuesday until suddenly it wasn't. The bill sat around for months with no action until it cleared a House committee and was quickly pushed onto the House calendar for a floor vote, where it was never addressed. Such is the life of a pawn in the ongoing budget battle between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican legislative leaders. Cooper wanted Medicaid expansion badly – he's even willing to accept work requirements and other stipulations in the GOP bill – and he and Democratic lawmakers have vowed to keep his budget veto in place until Medicaid expansion is part of the budget. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger says Medicaid expansion of any kind won't get through the Senate, and he accused Cooper of holding the budget hostage on a single issue instead of negotiating to get a budget in place and then discussing health care issues.

TILLIS PULLS THE TRIGGER ON BILL ATTACKING SANCTUARY CITIES, SHERIFFS: North Carolina’s fight over sheriffs’ cooperation with federal immigration officials has gone national. U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, introduced legislation Tuesday that would compel local law enforcement officials to comply with detainer requests made by federal authorities or face possible civil action by victims and/or the loss of federal grants. Tillis’s bill — the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act — comes as Republican state lawmakers are trying to pass a bill of their own to compel cooperation between county sheriffs and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. House Bill 370 would require local law enforcement to hold prisoners subject to ICE detainers. Tillis said his bill is in response to several North Carolina counties — Buncombe, Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg, and Wake — and others across the country refusing to comply with detainer requests or failing to notify ICE if an inmate is released.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT IN PERIL WITH CONSERVATIVE-LEANING 3 JUDGE PANEL: With health insurance availability, cost and coverage on the line for millions of Americans, a federal appeals court seemed inclined Tuesday to rule that the core provision of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law is unconstitutional. Two Republican-appointed judges on a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals peppered lawyers defending the law with skeptical questions, appearing to suggest they might hold that when Congress zeroed out a tax imposed by the law in 2017 it rendered unconstitutional the mandate to purchase health insurance. It was less clear after the arguments whether the judges also would invalidate the entire health care law, as the Trump administration favors. The hearing marked the latest development in a 2018 lawsuit by 18 Republican-leaning states claiming that the absence of a tax converts the law into an unconstitutional directive to U.S. citizens to buy a product. A lower court judge ruled in December that it did, and that the entire law must fall as a result. That includes popular provisions such as protection for pre-existing conditions.

UK AMBASSADOR WHO CRITICIZED TRUMP FORCED TO RESIGN: After several days of intense criticism by President Trump, who called the British ambassador to Washington a “pompous fool” and said his administration would no longer work with him, Kim Darroch on Wednesday resigned his post. Darroch had become embroiled in controversy after a cache of secret diplomatic cables were leaked to a British tabloid over the weekend. The memos from Darroch described the Trump as “insecure” and said that the administration was “inept” and “dysfunctional.” Trump reacted by tweeting that Darroch was “wacky” and “a very stupid guy” and “a pompous fool.” Trump went on to insult outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May for her “failed Brexit negotiation.” Trump boasted that he told May how to do the deal, “but she went her own foolish way — was unable to get it done. A disaster!” Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, said the comments made by Trump about Darrach were “beyond unfair and wrong” and said that he had given “honorable and good service and he should be thanked for it.”