US Senate to Vote on Opening Health Care Overhaul Debate
The U.S. Senate is due to vote Tuesday on whether to open debate on the latest Republican initiative to overhaul the health care system put in place under former President Barack Obama.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is leading the push to move away from the Affordable Care Act, also commonly known as Obamacare, but over the course of the past month he has been forced to take a step back when it became clear there were not enough votes to pass two different versions of the bill.
Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate. With unified Democratic opposition to repealing the ACA, Republicans can only lose two dissenting votes, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the vote in the event of a 50-50 tie.
Republican Senator John McCain announced he would be returning to work Tuesday after a short absence during which he announced he was diagnosed with brain cancer.
What is not clear is which bill will be voted on. The House of Representatives passed its own repeal-and-replace legislation in May, a bill Trump applauded at a White House rally after its passage and then later described as "mean." He instead called for the Senate to approve legislation with more "heart."
Senator John Cornyn said Monday that Republicans will discuss the various health care bill options at a lunch Tuesday before the procedural vote.
Democratic Senator Al Franken called the lack of clarity about which bill would be considered "deeply troubling."
President Donald Trump continued pressuring Republicans to act on an issue that was part of his campaign, saying Monday there has been "enough talk and no action."
"Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare," said Trump, who was surrounded by several families the White House referred to as "victims of Obamacare."
"For senate Republicans, this is their chance to keep their promise," the president said. "Over and over again they said, ‘Repeal and replace, repeal and replace.’ They can now keep their promise to the American people."
Trump also tore into Obama’s health care law with fresh intensity, calling it a "government takeover" of health care and "big, fat, ugly lie" that had "wreaked havoc" on American families.
'Unprecedented' Dengue Outbreak Kills Nearly 300 in Sri Lanka
The worst-ever outbreak of dengue fever in Sri Lanka has killed nearly 300 people with the number of cases rising rapidly.
Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health reports that the number of dengue infections has climbed above 103,000 since the start of 2017, with 296 deaths. The number of cases this year is already nearly double the number of dengue infections recorded in all of 2016, when 55,150 people were diagnosed with the disease.
The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are rapidly scaling up emergency assistance to help contain the outbreak in the South Asian island nation.
“Dengue is endemic here, but one reason for the dramatic rise in cases is that the virus currently spreading has evolved and people lack the immunity to fight off the new strain,“ says Dr. Novil Wijesekara, Head of Health at the Sri Lanka Red Cross.
Compounding the crisis, recent monsoon rains and floods have left pools of stagnant water and rotting rain-soaked trash—ideal breeding sites for mosquitoes. Ongoing downpours and worsening sanitation conditions raise concerns the disease will continue to spread.
Dengue is common in South Asia, especially during the monsoon season which runs from June to September, and if untreated, it can be lethal.
The International Federation of Red Cross said it had released new disaster emergency funds on Monday to help about 307,000 people in three districts where dengue was rampant.