President Donald Trump, appearing in Youngstown, warns senators of consequences if they don’t pass healthcare reform. The U.S. Senate votes to start debate on an Obamacare repeal bill, with support from U.S. Sen. Rob Portman. But Ex-House Speaker John Boehner predicts Republicans will “never” repeal and replace Obamacare. Today’s roundup is brought to you by Jeremy Pelzer.
Trump or consequences: President Donald Trump, during a Youngstown rally Tuesday evening, warned senators considering healthcare reform that “essentially, ‘Either you’re with me, or against me,'” writes cleveland.com’s Seth Richardson. Speaking at a rally of about 8,000 people, the president stopped short of placing all the blame for the healthcare impasse at Republicans’ feet, though he pointed out that Republicans have promised since Obamacare’s passage to repeal the law.
Richardson adds: “The president made some very lofty promises including reopening factories in Youngstown and spending $1 trillion on rebuilding the country’s infrastructure with American-made materials.”
Loyalty test: Politico’s Annie Karni, writing earlier on Tuesday, found that Ohio Republicans believed that Trump’s rally – his first since a June appearance in Cedar Rapids, Iowa – would help their party and to energize voters. “For now,” Karni writes, “the Trump loyalists are still granting the president a long leash,” giving him credit for rolling back Obama administration regulations and blaming Congress for the promises Trump hasn’t been able to keep.
Ohio Democrats, meanwhile… “said they don’t expect the rally to produce more than a sugar high for Trump,” Karni writes. “Cutting Medicaid and food stamps in order to give tax breaks to billionaires is not going to fly in Youngstown,” said Democratic strategist Paul Begala. “How long he can continue to maintain such strong support there is anyone’s guess.”
Healthcare reform bill moves ahead, barely: Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote Tuesday for the Senate to start debate on the House’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. As cleveland.com’s Stephen Koff reports, Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio was in the presiding officer’s chair during the vote and provided a needed “yes” vote.
Portman indicated that his vote shouldn’t be interpreted as support for whatever healthcare plan may emerge in the Senate (no one knows right now what that will be). However, the senator’s office said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has committed to consider adding another $100 billion to help low-income Americans in danger of losing Medicaid coverage.
However, Koff wrote later, “an early Republican attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare failed Tuesday night, and with it, Sen. Rob Portman’s proposal to help move people from Medicaid to private insurance went down.” It’s unclear whether Portman will get another chance to offer his amendment.
Ohio’s other senator, Sherrod Brown, joined every other Senate Democrat in voting “no” on starting debate. “It’s despicable that senators with taxpayer-funded health care are ignoring the pleas of working families,” Brown said in a statement.
Kasich weighs in: At a ceremonial bill-signing in Cleveland, Ohio Gov. John Kasich – a critic of both Obamacare and the House GOP’s healthcare plan – said of the Senate’s vote: “I just hope they get to a point they can study this carefully, go back to committee. Because we’re talking about human lives.”
Boehner the naysayer: Former House Speaker John Boehner, in a Las Vegas speech last week, predicted that Republicans will “never” repeal and replace Obamacare, reports Robert Costa of the Washington Post. “It’s been around too long,” the Southwest Ohio Republican said. “And the American people have gotten accustomed to it. Governors have gotten accustomed to this Medicaid expansion, and so trying to pull it back is really not going to work.”
Boehner said he believes that “when it’s all said and done,” the Obamacare employer mandate and individual mandate will be gone, but Medicaid expansion will remain. “The governors will have more control over their Medicaid populations and how to get them care, and a lot of Obamacare taxes will probably go,” he added.
Boehner also warned that if Republicans fail to pass legislation on healthcare, taxes, and infrastructure, “they’re going to get annihilated” in next year’s midterm elections.
Boehner wasn’t finished: He also ripped into U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Champaign County and other arch-conservative House members during the speech, calling them “the knucklehead caucus,” according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Jack Torry. Fielding a question about why some Republicans opposed electing House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as House speaker, Boehner said: “Now these are the guys in the Republican Party you could call right of right. They are anarchists. They’re for nothing.”
Digital ads target GOP on healthcare: Democratic super PAC Priorities USA says it has launched a new, six-figure digital ad campaign targeting Republicans on healthcare in Ohio and six other states where Senate Democrats are up for re-election next year. The ad campaign will run statewide for 3-5 weeks, according to Priorities USA spokesman Josh Schwerin, though he didn’t say how much money the super PAC intends to spend specifically in the Buckeye State.
Taylor distances herself on severance tax hike: Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor says if she’s elected governor, she would discontinue Kasich’s attempts to raise the state’s oil and gas severance tax. “You’re not going to see a tax overhaul plan when I’m governor, but a massive reform in the Department of Taxation,” Taylor told a group of Republicans in Marietta on Monday, according to Janelle Patterson of the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
Taylor has been trying to walk a tightrope of showing Trump voters her independence from Kasich without alienating the governor and his supporters. A severance tax increase, which Kasich has tried for years to push through the GOP-dominated General Assembly without success, appears to be one issue on which she’s not afraid to distance herself from the governor.
More on that Kasich bill signing: The governor was at Cleveland’s Great Lakes Science Center on Tuesday for a ceremonial signing of legislation giving the Ohio EPA more power to regulate the state’s landfills and dredging in Lake Erie. As cleveland.com’s Laura Johnston reports, Senate Bill 2 (which Kasich formally signed into law earlier this month), creates a regulatory framework to reuse dredge material as a construction commodity and clarifies the Ohio EPA’s ability to evaluate and clean up abandoned landfills, among other things.
Standing with Sessions: As Trump continues to attack Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself in the Justice Department’s Russia investigation, some Ohio Republicans are coming to the AG’s defense.
One is Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio treasurer and secretary of state who now serves on Trump’s voter-fraud commission. “As someone who has worked with Attorney General Sessions most recently on President Trump’s transition team, I cannot speak highly enough about General Sessions credentials and integrity as the nation’s top law enforcement officer or about his loyalty to President Trump,” Blackwell wrote on Facebook, adding on Twitter, “I stand with Attorney General Jeff Sessions!”
Portman released a less forceful statement in support of Sessions, calling him “a friend, former colleague, and an honorable person” and “a man of deep conviction and principle who believes in the rule of law.”
Ohio executions to resume: Akron child killer Ronald Phillips is set to be put to death Wednesday morning, marking Ohio’s first execution since January 2014, according to cleveland.com’s Jackie Borchardt. Phillips was convicted of raping and beating to death 3-year-old Sheila Marie Evans, the daughter of his girlfriend, in 1993. Ohio has held off on executions for the past three years as it has struggled to find lethal-injection drugs.
House deals Cordray a setback: The U.S. House voted Tuesday to reject a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulation that would allow consumers to file class-action lawsuits against their banks and credit-card companies, according to cleveland.com’s Sabrina Eaton. CFPB Director Richard Cordray – said to be preparing a run for Ohio governor – announced the rule earlier this month to prevent major financial institutions from imposing contractual fine print that blocks their customers from filing class action lawsuits. House Republicans said the rule would enrich trial lawyers, not protect consumers; the bill appears likely to pass the Senate and be signed into law by Trump.
Tourism director checks out: “TourismOhio Director Mary Cusick, who oversaw the development of the state’s new ‘Find It Here’ brand, is leaving her position at the beginning of August,” The Plain Dealer’s Susan Glaser reports. Cusack, who has served in the job since 2013, was praised for her work to launch the new brand, which was rolled out in 2015. There’s no timetable yet to find her successor.
History lesson: Cleveland.com’s Peter Krouse takes a look at Cleveland’s 50 mayors during the city’s 181-year history. The list ranges from names you’re probably familiar with, such as Dennis Kucinich and Carl Stokes, to others who are less known but still colorful – such as Cleveland’s first mayor, John W. Willey, who joined in an armed skirmish over the removal of a Cuyahoga River bridge.
A Little Help From My Friends: State Rep. Dorothy Pelanda on Tuesday announced endorsements from more than 20 current and former House GOP colleagues in her bid for Ohio secretary of state, including House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz.
Cocoa butter cow: This year’s Ohio State Fair butter cow display will include sculptures of a six-foot-high bottle of chocolate milk (colored with cocoa powder) and high-school athletes. As cleveland.com’s Laura Hancock explains, chocolate milk is the official beverage of the Ohio High School Athletic Association.