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Senate Rejects Health Bill As Debate Begins; Hero's Welcome For Sen. McCain; Trump's Rebuke Of Sessions; Lawmakers Defy Trump; North Korea Reacts To New Sanctions Bill. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 26, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:55] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The Senate health care debate is underway but after just one vote it's pretty clear Republicans have a long road ahead if they want to pass the new health care law.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am disappointed in the attorney general.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A stinging public rebuke of the attorney general, but President Trump now being urged to tone down his T.V. and Twitter attacks on Jeff Sessions.

ROMANS: And a hero's welcome for John McCain, back on the Senate floor. The must-see moment where McCain urged his colleagues to get back to business.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

John McCain inspiring, saying what do we have to lose by working together to find solutions.

ROMANS: It was nice to see him there.

BRIGGS: Good to see him back.

Just hours after though, Senate Republicans cleared a major health care hurdle, greenlighting a floor debate. Senators decisively rejected the first GOP proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare.

It would have combined an earlier Senate bill with $100 billion additional dollars for Medicaid to appease moderate Republicans and a proposal to allow what you might call a bare-bones health insurance plan to satisfy conservatives.

The rejection, an early sign of the chaos that's expected as GOP leaders work to find a plan their conference can actually agree on. ROMANS: Today, senators are expected to cast a vote on a repeal-only proposal. It, too, is expected to fail because many Republicans reject a repeal with a replacement ready.

Just voting to begin debate proved dramatic, the Senate voting to do so by a margin of zero -- literally zero. The vice president Mike Pence had to break the tie after these chants from the Senate gallery.


SENATE GALLERY (Chanting): Kill the bill. Don't kill us. Kill the bill. Don't kill us.

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: The Sergeant-at-arms will restore order in the chamber.


BRIGGS: Despite needing the vice president to cast the deciding vote, President Trump calls it a big step in the right direction. The bottom line here, the path to an actual plan on health care far more complex than just agreeing to debate.

ROMANS: Let's bring back Kimberly Leonard, senior health policy reporter for the "Washington Examiner."

And that is a beat, Kimberly, that is very popular right now as people try to understand with three months to go until open enrollment a sixth of -- a sixth of the American economy at play.

How significant was that vote to move forward yesterday and how significant will the next few days be?

KIMBERLY LEONARD, SENIOR HEALTH POLICY REPORTER, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, it was pretty significant because even though all it does is really open debate on the bill it's something that can be used politically next year during the midterm elections.

Democrats are going to say that those who are facing reelection voted in favor of repealing Obamacare and some of these bills have drastic impacts on the number of uninsurance rates that are likely to come as a result of a repeal bill.

BRIGGS: Trey Gowdy, on another network yesterday, called it the seventh sign of the Apocalypse if the Senate is actually able to pass anything on health care.

What do you think is most likely to pass in the Senate?

LEONARD: Well, one of the rumors that has been going around is something called the 'Skinny' bill which would essentially involve repealing the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and possibly something like the medical device tax.

And what they're essentially saying through that is OK, we have certain parts of Obamacare that we all agree needs to go so how about we just repeal a couple of parts here and there and hope that it all works out.

If something like that were to happen I could see a follow-up where they consider some sort of rescue package as well because as you pointed out, open enrollment is not far away and already there's trouble.

ROMANS: If you don't have the individual mandate though, where are we? I mean, then you have sicker people in the -- in the insurance system and you have the young, healthy people who don't have to -- who don't have to do it.

LEONARD: That's right. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that if the individual mandate were to be repealed it could cause as many as 16 million people to become insured, either because they're choosing not to buy these plans or because the plans then would go up to be so much more expensive that they actually couldn't afford them.

[05:35:12] There is some disagreement about how impactful the individual mandate is. In other words, are people actually buying insurance because they have to or are they buying it because they want it? What are the different factors that are weighing into people's insurance?

ROMANS: Well, at some point they get a fine if they don't buy the insurance. And you've got people, as you were pointing out earlier, who make $40,000-$45,000 a year -- their health care costs so much that they're choosing the fine over being insured?

LEONARD: Some of them are doing that. There's certainly some indication that that's happening. I mean, people are doing the math and they're saying well, I'm relatively healthy. This is too expensive for me.

And there are also back-ups that they can use. They can have short- term health insurance plans. They can have what they call health sharing ministries but those are, you know, very basic plans as well and they require certain moral clauses.

So there are other options but the key, obviously, is to have a mix of customers in the exchange so that you have healthier customers' cost that are balancing out those of more expensive enrollees.

BRIGGS: All right. So, while the vice president cast the deciding 51st vote yesterday, the President of the United States has largely stayed out of this process entirely, as far as the Senate.

He did tell "The Wall Street Journal" yesterday, quote, "The trouble with straight repeal is you'll have millions of people out there that will say well, you know, how do we know we're going to have health care? And I hate to do that to people so I'd rather see replace. I'd rather add the replace. We have a very good plan."

Certainly not the master of the specifics here. What has the president's role been in the Senate and what it is moving forward on this health care bill? LEONARD: Well, in recent days he has really been amping up the pressure when it comes to saying to senators look, you voted to repeal Obamacare back in 2015 so what's different this time around? So you've seen him amp the pressure a lot more in recent days.

Another thing is it's not only that people will wonder OK, will Obamacare be around enough, but for insurance companies who are looking at whether they're going to be participating in Obamacare or not, they are going to have to have an incentive to say OK, we'll participate for two years and then we'll see what comes next.

It's costly for them. A lot of them are losing millions of dollars to participate in the first place.

ROMANS: You know, the promise from the president -- he says we have a very good plan but we don't know exactly what that is. But the promise of the president is that you're going to have quality health care at lower prices and I haven't seen anything yet that guarantees that, have you?

LEONARD: Well, we haven't, but we don't know what all the different amendments are going to be yet --


LEONARD: -- and we also don't know whether they're going to be able to pass anything.

As far as the ones that have offered bare-bones plans, those require 60 votes in the Senate and there's not enough support to get something like that passed at this point.

ROMANS: All right.

BRIGGS: One senator likened it to a bazaar where there's a lot of different things available.

Kimberly Leonard of the "Washington Examiner," thank you. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: And my, is that how you do big? Something as big as a fifth -- sixth of the American economy --

BRIGGS: No. The short answer --

ROMANS: I'll take that, you've got that. I'll trade you this for that. And somehow it works out.

BRIGGS: The most consequential vote many of these senators will ever take.

ROMANS: All right.

BRIGGS: All right. There was drama on the Senate floor ahead of the health care vote as Arizona Sen. John McCain got a hero's welcome back from his Senate colleagues. McCain returning to cast his vote, the first time back since being diagnosed with brain cancer.

ROMANS: McCain, with a scar over his eye from brain surgery, making a plea to restore order and civility to the Senate chamber.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Our deliberations can still be important and useful but I think we'd all agree they haven't been overburdened by greatness lately, and right now they aren't producing much for the American people.

Even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than winning, even when we must give a little to get a little, even when our efforts managed just three yards in a cloud of dust while critics on both sides denounce us for timidity for our failure to triumph, I hope we can again rely on humility on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us.

Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio, and television, and the Internet. To hell with them.



ROMANS: We should note when he delivered his speech McCain said he would not support the Senate's care bill quote, "as it is today." Six hours later McCain did vote to advance the GOP bill.

All right. A new Russia sanctions bill gets overwhelming approval from the House, but will the inclusion of North Korea slow things down? We have live reports from Moscow and Seoul, next.


[05:44:05] ROMANS: The Senate is finally moving on health care legislation but President Trump is also ready to move on to tax reform.

Speaking to "The Wall Street Journal" he says his plan should focus on the middle-class, even if it means taxing the wealthy more.

Saying, quote, "The people I care most about are the middle-income people in this country who've gotten screwed. And if there's upward revision it's going to be on high-income people."

He didn't elaborate exactly. The White House proposal -- its current proposal is vague about how it ease the middle class' tax burden and it lists specific benefits for high-income Americans, like repealing the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, which does creep down into the middle-class and hurt them, too.

In fact, it cuts many deductions that help middle-class families like those on medical costs, student loans, and child care. The White House still wants to tackle tax reform this year, promising it will boost growth to four percent. Now, a lot of experts tell us that's optimistic. They're still expecting a slower 1.8 percent growth rate. But the president is thinking and talking taxes.

[05:45:08] BRIGGS: He is, indeed.

After another day of blistering attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, top White House officials are urging President Trump to cut out the public shaming.

Sources tell CNN Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and other senior officials have talked up the attorney general, reminding the president of Sessions' longstanding political loyalty.

ROMANS: Still, the president on Tuesday delivering yet another public critique of his A.G.


TRUMP: I am disappointed in the attorney general. He should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office. I think that's a bad thing not for the president, but for the presidency. I think it's unfair to the presidency.

I told you before I'm very disappointed with the attorney general but we will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell.


ROMANS: But, Sen. Jeff -- or Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former senator, also getting public support from former Senate colleagues after President Trump went on that latest tweetstorm.

The president called Sessions weak, asking why he wasn't going after crimes supposedly committed by Hillary Clinton.

BRIGGS: And in a "Wall Street Journal" interview, President Trump also seems to dispute whether Sessions showed the loyalty everyone says he did.

The president saying, quote, "When they say he endorsed me I went to Alabama. I had 40,000 people. He was a senator from Alabama.

I won the state by a lot, massive numbers. A lot of the statesI won by massive numbers.

But he was a senator. He looks at 40,000 people and probably says what do I have to lose. And he endorsed me. So it's not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement."

ROMANS: The "Journal" with an editorial this morning saying Trump's suggestion that Sessions prosecute Hillary Clinton is the kind of, quote, "crude political retribution you would expect in Erdogan's Turkey or Duterte's Philippines." And I'm reminded of that "Access" -- unfortunately, that "Access Hollywood" tape where the president was so crude -- the president- elect was so crude on that tape. And when it came out, I mean, people abandoned -- no one stood up, really, to support the president except --

BRIGGS: The candidate, yes. And Paul Ryan and many others ran away from the candidate --

ROMANS: The candidate at the time, that's right.

BRIGGS: -- but Jeff Sessions did not.

And, you know, he says there what did he have to lose -- the president says that. He had everything to lose because he was the only U.S. senator at the time to support the candidate Donald Trump. He took a lot of heat. He still remains the one reason many conservatives do support --

ROMANS: Just think --

BRIGGS: -- this president.

ROMANS: -- if you're sitting around that table at a cabinet meeting, every cabinet member must be thinking, you know, but for the grace of God, you know.

BRIGGS: Yes. Whether you agree with him or not, he was a loyal supporter --


BRIGGS: -- and the first senator to do so.

ROMANS: Two tech billionaires, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, in a public feud. We'll tell you why.


[05:52:05] ROMANS: The House of Representatives passing a new sanctions bill targeting Russia by a vote of 419 to three. It gives Congress the power to block the White House from weakening or repealing sanctions. The legislation, which also hits Iran and North Korea, now moves to the Senate.

We have reaction this morning from Russia and North Korea.

I want to begin in Moscow with CNN's Clare Sebastian -- Clare.


Well, obviously, we know, of course, the Kremlin and Russian officials are not at all happy about this new sanctions bill but talk here in Moscow really has turned to the issue of retaliation this morning, both in the media and from officials. What Russia might do in response to this once the bill is signed.

We heard from the deputy foreign minister recently who just this morning talking to the Russian news agency Interfax. He said that Russia has warned the U.S. already on multiple occasions about retaliatory measures and it doesn't see the point in doing it again.

He also said that this bill was a serious step towards destruction of the prospect of normalizing relations with Russia, so that makes things abundantly clear.

But don't forget, when it comes to the issue of retaliation Russia has unfinished business here. When the Obama administration brought in sanctions in December confiscating two Russian compounds in the U.S. and expelling 35 diplomats, Russia did nothing in response.

The speculation at the time was that this was a calculation that the Trump administration might ease sanctions. That is not to have happened. In fact, the opposite is taking place and the mood here in Russia really is that their patience is running out and that they are now in the mood to answer these sanctions.

ROMANS: All right, Clare. Thank you so much for that this morning in Moscow.

BRIGGS: All right. North Korea one of three nations being targeted in the House sanctions bill.

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, says the measure may undergo a few tweaks before it gets out of the Senate.

This, as North Korea threatens a nuclear strike on the heart of the U.S. if any attempt is made to remove Kim Jong Un.

CNN's Will Ripley live in Seoul with the latest. Good morning to you, Will.


That threat not coming because of this new round of sanctions. North Korea is a very heavily-sanctioned country. There have been six rounds, increasingly strong sanctions, and yet their economy grew by four percent last year and they have continued their frantic pace of missile testing and have conducted a number of nuclear tests as well.

This harsh rhetoric -- this threat of a nuclear attack against the United States, a threat that we've heard before, was provoked by remarks by the CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who said that the United States wants to see regime change in North Korea.

That they would like to separate that country's Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un from his growing nuclear and missile arsenal, and also saying that the Korean people themselves would like to see their leader ousted from power.

That drew a furious response -- a promise of a preemptive nuclear attack against the U.S. And analysts believe that the North is getting closer to having in their hands the kind of ballistic missile that could potentially deliver a nuclear warhead to the mainland U.S.

[05:55:10] There are also indications this morning that the North could be preparing for yet another missile launch, possibly the kind of ballistic missile that they launched on the Fourth of July.

Intelligence officials with the State Department are telling CNN that they have seen equipment rolling into the launch site in Kusong, North Korea. Equipment that could be used to launch a missile to coincide with the armistice celebration on Thursday, July 27th -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right, Will Ripley. That -- we will keep our eye on the calendar. Thank you, sir.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global stock markets are higher after another record day on Wall Street. The S&P 500, the Nasdaq never have been higher -- records there. The Dow rose 100 points on the back of strong earnings from McDonald's and Caterpillar.

Investors today tuning in for a lot more corporate profits. We're going to hear from Boeing, Coca-Cola, Ford, Facebook.

And it's also the conclusion of the Fed's July meeting.

Meanwhile, President Trump tells "The Wall Street Journal" the Fed chief Janet Yellen may keep her job when her term ends in February. But also that economic adviser Gary Cohn is also in the running for the top position at the Fed.

It's a public feud for two tech billionaires. Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg sparring over the future of artificial intelligence.

Tesla founder Musk often talks of the dangers of A.I. He describes it as a threat to the human race.

But Facebook's Zuckerberg more optimistic, telling Facebook users it's irresponsible to drum up doomsday scenarios.

Musk shot back on Twitter calling Zuckerberg's understanding of A.I. limited. It was funny. He shot back on Twitter, not on Facebook.

BRIGGS: The tech billionaires feuding --

ROMANS: I know, feuding about the --

BRIGGS: -- online. Good stuff.

ROMANS: -- big ideas of the future. The future's here.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

Even after voting to start debate -- to start a Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, what happens today on the Senate floor should be intriguing.

"NEW DAY" starts right now.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: We have a duty to act. The president's ready with his pen.

TRUMP: So you had two Republicans that went against us which is very sad, I think. It's very, very sad for them.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I think I could say without any hesitancy that there's nobody in the United States Senate who has a clue what's going on.

MCCAIN: We're getting nothing done, my friends. We're getting nothing done.

TRUMP: I'm very disappointed with the attorney general but we will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get the loyalty you give in life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Loyalty is a one-way street with Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president and Attorney General Sessions need to work this thing out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about rule of law, not the rule of Trump.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.


We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, July 26th, 6:00 here in New York.

And here's our "Starting Line."

The Senate failing to pass Mitch McConnell's plan to partially repeal and replace Obamacare. Nine Republicans voting against the first major proposal put up for a vote.

Remember, the big win yesterday was just a vote to start debate. There is still stiff resistance to just repealing the ACA without a reasonable replacement.

The Senate continues debate today and there is a new measure to repeal and delay replacement. We'll see how that goes.

The president is also intensifying his very public rebuke of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: In fact, the president refuses to say whether he will fire Sessions, calling Sessions recusal on the Russia investigation, quote "unfair to the presidency."

Meantime, President Trump back on the campaign trail last night telling supporters in Ohio that he can quote "be more presidential than any other U.S. president except Abraham Lincoln," end quote.

And an open microphone captures two senators making unflattering comments about President Trump and ridiculing a fellow lawmaker. We have that audio for you.

So CNN has all this covered.

Let's begin with CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux live on Capitol Hill. Another very busy day. Tell us.


Well, Senate Republicans won an important legislative victory but, of course, it underscored later in the day just the painful process of trying to unite the GOP around one particular plan, a comprehensive plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

It was just one in a series of amendments and proposals, and that fell short.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): The Republican effort to broker an agreement on health care suffering its first setback with the Senate decisively rejecting the GOP's most comprehensive replacement plan. Nine Republicans voting against the measure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The motion is not agreed to.

MALVEAUX: The Senate expected to take up today Sen. Rand Paul's proposal to repeal Obamacare with the delay on the replacement plan for two years. A measure that the CBO estimates will leave 32 million more Americans uninsured and is also expected to fail.

MCCONNELL: This is just the beginning. We're not out here to spike the football.