Welcome to the political newsletter that remembers when John McCain told a voter in 2008 that Barack Obama was not Arab. Consider how much our politics have come since then.
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What we’re watching
Today: It’s a deluge of news out of Washington.
More: Sen. John McCain has brain cancer. His prognosis is poor.
More: Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort have been asked to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.
Even more: The CBO says repealing the Affordable Care Act with no replacement would lead to 32 million people losing health insurance.
Yes, more: Donald Trump says he wouldn’t have named Jeff Sessions as attorney general if he knew Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
Trump’s agenda today: Meeting at the Pentagon. Making an announcement about pharmaceutical glass packaging.
Sen. John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer
The 80-year-old Arizona Republican announced Wednesday night that he has an aggressive form of brain cancer, which was found after surgeons removed a blood clot above his left eye last week.
McCain is a crucial vote for Republicans, who hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate. The Vietnam veteran and 2008 Republican presidential candidate has been one of the few voices in the GOP willing to stand up to Trump. That has created a sometimes combative relationship between McCain and Trump, with the president saying in 2015 of the former POW’s war record: “I like people who weren’t captured.”
On Wednesday night, Trump said in a statement, “McCain has always been a fighter. ... Get well soon.”
Trump Jr. and Manafort expected in the Senate
The Senate Judiciary Committee has asked Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, to testify publicly next Wednesday. Senators want to inquire about the meeting Manafort, Trump Jr. and others took with a Russian lawyer last summer seeking damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
The president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner will testify privately on Monday with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Manafort and Trump Jr. have not said whether they will testify publicly.
More on Manafort: The New York Times reported that Manafort was in debt to pro-Russian groups by as much as $17 million while he was working for Trump’s campaign.
Repealing Obamacare means 32 million fewer people would have insurance
If the Affordable Care Act were repealed without a replacement, 17 million people would drop their health insurance coverage next year. That’s because no individual mandate means people would no longer be penalized for not having insurance. By 2026, insurance premiums would have risen 100% from their current levels and 32 million fewer people would have health insurance.
That news from the Congressional Budget Office comes as Republicans continue to search for a way forward on health care reform. After their first two attempts could not muster necessary support in the Senate, the GOP plans to vote next week on allowing an open floor debate on shaping health care policy — not a vote on a coherent, scored plan.
Twenty Republicans met late into Wednesday evening to try to find consensus. They reported good progress, but no deal.
Watch today for a CBO score on the second Senate Republican health care bill.
Trump expresses regrets about his attorney general
“[Jeff] Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump told the New York Times on Wednesday.
Sessions recused himself from the investigation into alleged Trump-Russia ties in March. Trump said that helped lead to the appointment of a special counsel — an inquiry Trump has repeatedly attacked.
News and insight you cannot miss:
Trump promised his voter integrity panel will be “very transparent.” He also suggested states that do not send their voter data to Washington are hiding something.
A top aide to the Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee has been fired for questionable trips to Moscow.
155 people were arrested on Capitol Hill on Wednesday for protesting the Republican effort to repeal the ACA.