BURR AND TILLIS VOTE TO MOVE FORWARD ON DAMAGING HEALTHCARE LEGISLATION: Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina voted to proceed with debate on Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, keeping alive their party’s attempt to keep a long-standing campaign promise. Republicans needed ailing Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who recently was diagnosed with brain cancer, to return to Washington to get to 50 votes, allowing Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote to move forward with debate. Two Republicans – Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski – voted against the motion to proceed as did all 48 senators who caucus with Democrats.
EFFORTS TO REPEAL OBAMACARE STUMBLE IN SENATE AFTER INITIAL VICTORY: Late Tuesday night, the Senate voted 57-43 to block a wide-ranging proposal by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell replacing Obama's statute with a far more restrictive GOP substitute. Those voting no included nine Republicans, ranging from conservative Mike Lee of Utah to Maine moderate Susan Collins, in a roll call that raised questions about what if any reshaping of Obama's law splintered Republicans can muster votes to achieve. While pressure and deal-making helped win over vacillating Republicans to begin debate, they remained fragmented over what to do next. Several pointedly left open the possibility of opposing the final bill if it didn't suit their states.
RUSSIAN RADIO STATION BROADCASTS PRANK CALL TO RICK PERRY: Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been fooled by a pair of Russian pranksters impersonating the prime minister of Ukraine. Perry spoke to the pair about the Paris Climate Accord and the possibility of using pig manure as a power source in his 22-minute conversation with Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov. The entire phone call was posted online by Russian news site Vesti. Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes confirmed the authenticity of the call to The Washington Post , saying the duo targets high level officials and celebrities "who are supportive of an agenda that is not in line with their governments. In this case, the energy security of Ukraine."
TRUMP'S INAPPROPRIATE BOY SCOUT SPEECH COMES UNDER FIRE: No knot-tying demonstrations. No wood-carving advice. President Donald Trump went straight to starting a fire in a speech at a national Boy Scout gathering. Parents, former Scouts and others were furious after Trump railed against his enemies, promoted his political agenda and underlined his insistence on loyalty before an audience of tens of thousands of school-age Scouts in West Virginia on Monday night. “Is nothing safe?” Jon Wolfsthal, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter, saying Trump turned the event into a “Nazi Youth rally.” Trump, the eighth U.S. president to address the Scouts’ National Jamboree, was cheered by the crowd, but his comments put an organization that has tried in recent years to avoid political conflict and become more inclusive in an awkward position.
"PHARMA BRO" MARTIN SHKRELI ON TRIAL FOR MISLEADING INVESTORS: Shkreli, 34, is best known for raising the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent and targeting his critics with online rants so nasty that it got him kicked off of Twitter for harassment. He was arrested in 2015 on unrelated federal charges accusing him of lying to investors in a pair of failed hedge funds. Though not part of the case, the price-gouging scandal has hung over the trial and burdened Shkreli with a likability deficit that made it even more of a longshot that he would testify. But that hasn't stopped him from using the internet to vent after spending long days sitting at the defense table. In one of a flurry of recent Facebook posts, he wrote: "This was a bogus case from day one." The government's last witness testified on Tuesday, a day after a lawyer for the former biotech CEO told the court that his client had chosen not to take the witness stand. Closing arguments are expected later this week.