The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report

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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha-- breaks down crying hysterically.


The Hill's 12:30 Report: Senate GOP floats scaled-down healthcare bill | Manafort subpoenaed | Trump ramps up Sessions criticism | Collins on hot mic calls Farenthold 'so unattractive' | McCain returning to DC | Dogs dressed as sharks on Capitol Hill | Trump drawing up for auction

BREAKING -- SKINNY, FAT, TALL, SHORT, QUIET, LOUD -- WE'LL TAKE WHATEVER BILL WE CAN GET: Via The Hill's Peter Sullivan, Senate Republicans have a new plan today to pass a "skinny" repeal of ObamaCare, which they think can get more Republican support. The plan: The scaled-down version of the bill would then set up negotiations in the House and move the effort along. What the "skinny bill" would do: It would likely just repeal ObamaCare's individual and employer mandates and the medical device tax.

Could this pass?: It could. First, Senate Republicans need enough votes to open debate. However, Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP leader blocks resolution backing intelligence community on Russia Rand Paul blocks Sanders's Russia resolution, calls it 'crazy hatred' against Trump McCain: Trump plays into 'Putin's hands' by attacking Montenegro, questioning NATO obligations MORE (R-Ky.) is a yes on that vote, so the chances are looking better than they have in a while.

Lol, this made me laugh: From Time's Ryan Teague Beckwith: "Like a skinny latte, the skinny repeal also comes with no whip." Buh, dum, ptchhhhh.

WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN: The motion to proceed needs the backing of 50 senators to pass -- assuming Vice President Pence breaks a tie -- and it will be close.

Live blog of updates: Keep checking this page today

MCCAIN'S BACK FOR A NICE, QUIET, SLOW DAY: Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainControversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws Trump vows to hold second meeting with Putin Ex-Montenegro leader fires back at Trump: ‘Strangest president' in history MORE (R-Ariz.) is returning to the Senate today after being diagnosed with brain cancer. What that means: It'll give the GOP's healthcare bill a boost of momentum.

Too soon?: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) this morning called it "ironic" that McCain, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, could vote in favor of the healthcare plan. "It's ironic he has a very severe health problem, and the McConnell bill would -- perhaps not for Sen. McCain or for me or for others -- would put at risk people who have such a serious illness," Hoyer said.

It's a crazy Tuesday in D.C. --> I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to and on Facebook.

YIIIIKES -- HOT MICS ARE THE BEST MICS: Via The Hill's Niv Elis: Sen. Susan Collins was caught on a hot mic this morning talking about the looks of GOP Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdAP Analysis: 25 state lawmakers running in 2018 have been accused of sexual misconduct Ex-lawmakers see tough job market with trade groups Republican wins right to replace Farenthold in Congress MORE (R-Texas), who a day earlier was quoted in a story blaming "some female senators from the Northeast" for the healthcare repeal impasse.

Sen. Collins to Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedSenate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting Senate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one Schumer: Trump should cancel meeting with Putin MORE"Did you see the one who challenged me to a duel?"

Sen. Reed (D-R.I.): "Trust me, you know why he challenged you to a duel? Because you could beat the shit out of him."

Collins then brought up a picture of Farenthold that was taken at a fundraiser and showed him wearing duck-print pajamas and standing next to a lingerie model.

Collins: "He's so unattractive, it's unbelievable," Collins says. "Did you see the picture of him in his pajamas next to this bunny, playboy bunny?" 

Audio of the conversation -- it's cringeworthy -->

LATE THIS A.M. -- FREE ADVICE: DITCH THE RUSSIAN CURRENCY BEFORE YOU PAY FOR LUNCH AT SENATE CARRYOUT: The Senate Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to appear publicly before the committee. When: Tomorrow, nbd. What changed: It first appeared that the committee struck deals with attorneys representing Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. so they would not immediately subpoena then. However, the committee leaders now say they did not reach an agreement with Manafort. What the committee wants: A "voluntary transcribed interview." Full reasoning:

HAPPENING TODAY -- HOW THE GOP IS FEELING RIGHT NOW --> NO, NO, NOT HEALTHCARE: Via The Hill's Cristina Marcos and Scott Wong, the House is poised to pass legislation limiting the president's ability to unilaterally lift sanctions on Russia, which the Trump administration initially opposed. Why Trump is in a corner: He lacks the votes to block the bill, so he'll likely have to sign it.

NEW THIS A.M. -- WHITE HOUSE BRINGS IN 'JOE THE PLUMBER' TO STOP THE LEAKS: Politico's Tara Palmeri is reporting that the White House's new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, is dismissing assistant press secretary Michael ShortWhy: "Scaramucci warned that Short would be the first of many, if he's not able to stop the leaks coming out of the communications and press shop." Keep in mind about the White House comms shop: It's currently mostly former Republican National Committee staffers who are loyal to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who was previously chairman of the RNC.

Context from Politico's Jake Sherman: "Pretty odd Scaramucci thinks the leaks are in the press shop."

Tidbit from NBC's Nicolle Wallace: "Biggest change since Scaramucci was hired: President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE tweets more/crazier stuff."

OH, BUT WAIT -- THERE ARE CONFLICTING REPORTS: Michael Short told CNN that no one had informed him that he had lost his position. "No one has told me anything and the entire premise is false," Short said. And speaking to reporters later on the White House grounds, Scaramucci refused to say whether he fired Short. "It's an unfair thing for me to comment on," he said.

MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T GO ALL OUT ON TUX ALTERATIONS FOR THE WHITE HOUSE CHRISTMAS PARTY JUST YET...: President Trump ramped up his criticism of his attorney general, Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein warns of growing cyber threat from Russia, other foreign actors Key GOP lawmaker throws cold water on Rosenstein impeachment With new immigration policy, Trump administration gutting the right to asylum MOREEarly morning tweet: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonProminent Putin critic: If Trump turns me over, I'm dead Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia Trump tweets old video of Clinton talking up 'a strong Russia' MORE crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!"

Trump also laid into the acting FBI director: "Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!"

Interesting question from The New York Times's Maggie Haberman: "Do the people who shouted 'ignore the tweets' and it's all a planned distraction still stand by that?"

IMPORTANT READ -- WHY TRUMP OUSTING SESSIONS COULD HELP HIM OUT: Via The Washington Post's Sari Horwitz, Matt Zapotosky and Robert Costa, some Trump aides think replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions could be part of the long-term strategy to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and end the Russia-Trump investigation. 

-- Reasoning: "After Sessions recused himself, he passed on the responsibility to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who then appointed Mueller ... Trump could order Rosenstein -- and then Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand -- to fire Mueller. If they quit instead of doing so, he could appoint an acting attorney general who would. Trump could also appoint an acting attorney general with them in place -- effectively passing over Rosenstein and Brand -- and order that person to remove the special counsel."



C-SPAN's Howard Mortman
Jared Kushner and brother Josh Kushner now tied with one speaking appearance each on C-SPAN...

The Hill's Peter Sullivan (Womp.)
Metaphor alert? Dirksen subway is stopped in place. Photo:

TMJ4's Charles Benson (Oooof.)
WH Comms Dir Anthony Scaramucci on what Pres Trump said [to] him about tweeting: "If I didn't have social media I'd be dead."



The House and Senate are in.

Today: A vote to open debate on the healthcare bill.

Noon: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross speaks at The Economic Club of Washington. Details:

12:30 p.m. EDT: The Senate's weekly caucus luncheons.

1:30 p.m. EDT: First votes in the House.

2 p.m. EDT: President Trump holds meetings with Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon.

2 p.m. EDT: Once the weekly luncheons are finished, the Senate will hold a roll call vote to open debate on the GOP healthcare bills.

3:45 p.m. EDT: FC Barcelona and the U.S. Soccer Foundation are hosting a briefing in the Rayburn building on Capitol Hill. Their cause: Promoting sports to keep children healthy and out of trouble.

4 p.m. EDT: Last votes in the House.

6 p.m. EDT: IJR is hosting a happy hour to announce the winners of the "cutest dogs on the Hill" contest. Dogs are welcome! Invite:

8 a.m. EDT Wednesday: The Hill is hosting an event on prescription drugs, boosting patient outcomes and reining in healthcare spending. Reps. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerDems introduce bill to eliminate ICE, shift duties elsewhere 'Paws for Celebration' event brings rescue animals to the Capitol The farm bill fails animals in need MORE (D-Ore.), Larry BucshonLarry Dean BucshonLawmakers worry about rise in drugged driving Title X Family Planning proposed rule takes an important step forward in protecting unborn life Combatting our opioid crisis with comprehensive treatment centers MORE (R-Ind.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) are among the speakers. Details:

End of the week: The August recess begins for the House. The Senate is expected to stick around for two more weeks.



3 p.m. EDT: President Trump holds a joint press conference with Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon. Livestream:

6 p.m. EDT: President Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in a salute to American heroes. Livestream:

7 p.m. EDT: President Trump holds a "Make America Great Again" rally in Youngstown, Ohio. Livestream:

3 p.m. EDT Wednesday: Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate panel advances Trump IRS nominee Senate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Who is Andrew Wheeler, EPA's new acting chief? MORE (D-R.I.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) speak at an American Enterprise Institute event about carbon taxes. Livestream:



Today is National Hot Fudge Sundae Day. I.e.: the only glimpse of hope for humanity I can hold on to today.

WHO KNEW THE PRESIDENT WAS SUCH AN ARTIST?: Via The Hill's Judy Kurtz, a 2005 sketch drawn by President Trump of the New York City skyline is expected to fetch at least $9,000 at auction.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The release date has been set for the next James Bond movie. Don't get too excited: It's not until Nov. 8, 2019.

And because you are all my friends, here are dogs on Capitol Hill dressed up as sharks in honor of "Shark Week":


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