Today: The Fight to 50 in the Senate
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) after announcing the release of the Republicans’ healthcare bill. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
The fate of healthcare in the U.S. once again hangs in the balance. I’m Davan Maharaj, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don’t want you to miss today.
Can they get to 50? That’s the question we’ll be hearing this week as Republican leaders in the Senate try to push ahead with a vote on their polarizing healthcare plan and bring enough GOP senators on board. Five of the 52 have said publicly they oppose the measure as written. Still to come this week: the score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, along with wheeling, dealing and arm-twisting. Over the weekend the rift between moderates and conservatives appeared to widen. And as President Trump continues to proclaim Obamacare “is dead,” the proposed changes are threatening huge disruptions across the healthcare system.
— An effort to establish a single-payer healthcare system in California was shelved by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount), who called it “woefully incomplete.”
— The Supreme Court says it will hand down its final rulings for this term today, but that does not mean the justices will necessarily decide the six cases that remain, which include three significant disputes involving immigration and U.S. borders.
— A Southern California group backing President Trump is out with a new ad attacking special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and criticizing the Russia investigation.
Hello, State Department … Are You There?
At the State Department, only a handful of senior positions are filled, there are no regular briefings to explain foreign policy, and ambassadors are in short supply. Though President Trump isn’t the first to run major parts of his foreign policy from the White House, the lack of contact has frustrated some foreign diplomats and led to unusual approaches. Early on, Denmark even tried to see if a beauty pageant contestant had any high-level contacts. (Apparently, she did not.)
Dems in 2018? Not So Fast
Democrats keep hoping that Trump’s unpopularity will bring them success in the 2018 midterm elections to gain control of the House and improve their position in the Senate. Four races in GOP districts since Trump’s inauguration have shown running “against Trump” isn’t enough for them to win and may even help drive GOP voter turnout, as Cathleen Decker observes in this analysis. Meanwhile, some Democrats from L.A.’s Westside are already traveling to Republican bastions along the Mojave Desert in hopes of registering voters for the midterms.
It’s Not Mosul, It’s Marawi
A city is under siege. Two hundred thousand residents are displaced, with 40,000 in makeshift evacuation centers. Airstrikes target Islamic State-affiliated rebels, who use hostages as human shields. This is Marawi on the Philippine island of Mindanao. Terrorism experts say that the battle here could set the stage for the establishment of a jihadi state in Southeast Asia. That’s why the U.S. military has been quietly providing assistance to the Philippine military.
Living an Unexpected Life to the Fullest
Kam Redlawsk is a 38-year-old artist who dreams up designs for product and toy companies. When she was in high school, she noticed a “sleepiness” in her feet. Then, she started to trip on stairs. Eventually, she found out she has a rare genetic disorder that leads to total paralysis. This is the story of how, after a doctor told her to quit school, she vowed to get her degree — and started traveling and hasn’t stopped since.
OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND
— L.A.’s new tallest building will be lighted up with massive LED displays, which some call exciting and others deride as visual junk.
— California invested heavily in solar power. Now there’s so much that other states are sometimes paid to take it.
— Mexican soccer fans don’t want to give up their favorite game-day chant, a homophobic slur that could lead to sanctions hurting their national team’s chances in the World Cup.
— For aging baby boomers who don’t want to live on an “elderly island,” developers are creating multi-generational communities with areas where they can escape the kids.
— Shakespeare and the politics of our age: Trump, “Julius Caesar” and now “Richard II.”
— For five years, she asked, “Who murdered my daughter?” Along the way, she found paths to peace.
— Film critic Justin Chang reviews “The Big Sick,” a romantic dramedy about the relationship between a Pakistani American man and a white woman.
— The Times’ Bill Plaschke and Lindsey Thiry report from Lakers headquarters after the organization selected Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft.
— The president of the civilian panel that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department said he will direct the LAPD’s watchdog to review its cadet program.
— A car crash sparked a fire in Santa Clarita that quickly spread on Sunday and triggered mandatory evacuations in some neighborhoods.
— Muslims across Southern California marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan, breaking a month of daily fasting with prayers and celebrations.
— Many residents in Southwest L.A. love the idea of renaming a street “Obama Boulevard,” but one wondered: “Why not a major street?”
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— Times music writer Randall Roberts and his wife, Jenny — a.k.a. Dad and Mom — tackled the “family-friendly” Arroyo Seco Weekend music festival with toddler in tow. Someday, they’ll laugh about it.
— Pop music critic Mikael Wood says the BET Awards were suffering from a lack of energy until singer Tamar Braxton crushed it with her performance of “My Man.”
— What is “perhaps the most flat-out beautiful museum exhibition in Los Angeles so far this year”? An African arts show at LACMA, says art critic Christopher Knight.
— “Transformers: The Last Knight,” the fifth installment in the blockbuster franchise from Michael Bay, was No. 1 at the box office but hit a franchise low.
Beware of replicants: “Blade Runner,” Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi noir starring Harrison Ford, arrived in theaters this week in 1982.
— How is Denver helping its growing homeless population? Sidewalk storage lockers, a mobile restroom program and a laundry truck that washes clothes.
— Israel scrapped a compromise to allow pluralist prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a move that has angered liberal Jewish denominations in North America.
— In China, the government has cracked down on live-streaming, which is a popular form of entertainment for lonely-heart millennials and a big business.
— They’re voracious, nonnative and getting closer to the Great Lakes: The latest Asian carp discovery is a cause for worry.
— A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off successfully Sunday afternoon from Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Western Range, carrying a payload of 10 commercial communications satellites in an important test of the company’s ability to increase launch rates.
— A Santa Monica couple is going to battle with Snap Inc. over whether the term “geofilters” can be trademarked.
— Workouts, game films and strawberry pancakes: A look behind the scenes as the Lakers prepared to draft Lonzo Ball.
— The Dodgers rallied from five runs down, scoring five times on wild pitches, to rout the Colorado Rockies.
— What happened to DWP reform? L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is silent this time on the union pay raises and contract.