The Note: The Obamacare-gutting bill that is sneaking through Congress ... without Trump

PHOTO: Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, talk while walking to a meeting on Capitol Hill, July 13, 2017. PlayPablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
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THE TAKE with ABC News' Rick Klein

Don't underestimate the power of getting something done to say that something got done. And don't underestimate the power of a deadline in moving those things toward completion. If Graham-Cassidy squeaks through the Senate before next weekend, it will in large part because of a distracted news environment that has kept the attention on monster storms, Dreamers, deals with Democrats and a quickened pace in the Russia probes. None of that explanation will change the facts: This Senate bill, if passed by the House, would gut core protections of Obamacare – including "essential health benefits" and cost protections for those with pre-existing conditions – and blow up Medicaid as currently structured. Countless Americans would lose their health coverage – countless, of course, because the only way the bill can pass is if it's slid through before the Congressional Budget Office would have time for a full analysis. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey offered his support Monday, clearing the way for Sen. John McCain to turn his thumb in the opposite direction. That leaves the bill's fate, in all likelihood, in the hands of Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, whose states would be among the most affected by the Medicaid rewrite. Notable in the recent momentum? President Trump has barely been involved.


The "resistance" movement was created by progressives not just as rallying point, but as a warning, a demand, aimed at all politicians, Democrats included. When President Trump was elected they had had enough. If obstructionism had worked for Republicans under Obama, it could work for them now too. So, when Democratic leaders started negotiations with the president over immigration, they may have ingratiated themselves to Trump, but they infuriated some of their own. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had her news conference about protecting the Dreamers interrupted Monday, after immigration activists demanded those Dreamers not be used as "bargaining chips." And New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo accused his Democratic colleagues of playing their hand badly too. Getting DACA extended, without a pathway to citizenship, in exchange for border security funding, amounts to "negotiating with ourselves," he said. If Chuck and Nancy take the pot in the end, all may be forgiven, but for now it seems sitting down at the table at all was a bit of a political gamble, ABC News' MaryAlice Parks notes.


It's another debate night in Virginia. While the governor's race largely flew under the radar over the summer, neither man has pulled away in the race between Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie. Gillespie has cautiously embraced President Trump in the race, careful not to alienate too many voters in the areas of the state where he needs to remain competitive. Gillespie, who barely held off Trump's Virginia campaign chairman Corey Stewart in the GOP primary, has been grappling with how best to position himself with respect a president whose approval rating continues to hover below 40 percent. While he has shown support for banning "sanctuary cities" in Virginia, he has been hesitant to offer a full-throated defense of some of Trump's more controversial policies, including the travel ban. It's a balancing act that Northam and Virginia Democrats have pounced on, especially in the wake of the riots in Charlottesville, when Gillespie did not directly criticize President Trump's response to the unrest. Expect the words "Donald Trump" to come up a few times tonight and in the race's final weeks, ABC News' John Verhovek writes.


  • "America First," world-stage edition: President Trump delivers his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, and he's expected to outline a foreign-policy vision based on "outcomes, not ideology," and address North Korea and Iran.
  • Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, will be interviewed behind closed doors by the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating ties between Trump campaign's to Russia.
  • Pressure is building on Paul Manafort: New revelations suggest he's been threatened with indictment, and CNN reports he was secretly wiretapped before and after the election.

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    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.