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Senate Republicans make their health care bill public; US intelligence officials say Putin ordered US election hacking; Yellowstone grizzlies are taken off endangered species list.
- Senate Republicans’ secret health care bill is secret no more.
- After weeks of private meetings and closed-door sessions, the Better Care Reconciliation Act was revealed on Thursday. Bottom line: Poor people will pay more to get less in insurance, and the rich will get a big tax cut. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
- While the bill keeps some parts of Obamacare, its biggest changes include phasing out the Medicaid expansion beginning in 2021 and making dramatic cuts to the rest of the program. [NYT / Haeyoun Park and Margot Sanger-Katz]
- It would allow states to opt out of Obamacare insurance markets and some insurance regulations, such as the requirement that "essential health benefits" like maternity care and prescription drugs be covered. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
- When it comes to America’s devastating opioid crisis, which killed more than 65,000 people last year, the bill would put $2 billion toward grant money for drug treatment and recovery. That’s about $188 billion less than the amount proposed by health experts, who say it’s going to take that much to address addiction and health problems such as HIV and hepatitis C that IV drug users can contract. [Vox / Ella Nilsen]
- However, the Senate bill contains plenty of good news for wealthy people. Like the health care bill passed by the House last month, there’s nearly $1 trillion worth of tax cuts, with 40 percent of those cuts going to the top 1 percent of earners in US. [CNBC / Michael Sheetz]
- The big question now is whether enough Republican senators will get on board to turn the bill into law. Republicans only need a 51-vote majority to pass the bill, so it remains to be seen whether it can withstand disagreements between moderates and conservatives. The GOP can only afford to lose two votes. [Kaiser Health News / Julie Rovner]
- Already, there’s opposition to the bill from both sides. Four conservative Republican senators — Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — say they won’t support the bill in its current form because it doesn’t go far enough to repeal Obamacare. [CNN / Miranda Green, Phil Mattingly and Ashley Killough]
- On the moderate side, watch for potential holdouts like Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who have said they are opposed to a provision of the bill that would defund Planned Parenthood. [Sahil Kapur via Twitter]
- Collins has already put out a statement saying she has a lot of concerns with the bill and won’t be making a decision until it’s scored by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office early next week. [Washington Post / Elise Viebeck]
- For more health care coverage, don't miss Vox's daily health care newsletter, edited by Sarah Kliff. [Click here to subscribe automatically for this email address.]
- Yesterday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearings on Russian meddling into the 2016 election got a lot less attention than the high-profile ones featuring former FBI Director James Comey, but they were still really important.
- US intelligence officials stated on Thursday that orders for Russian cyberattacks in the 2016 election could be traced all the way up to Russian President Vladimir Putin himself. [WSJ / Byron Tau and Erica Orden]
- Officials also confirmed that voting systems in 21 states were targeted by Russian hackers, a number initially reported by Bloomberg last week. [WSJ / Byron Tau and Erica Orden]
- That number could be even higher; a former FBI cybersecurity official in the Obama administration told reporters that US intelligence assumed the Russians had tried to hack into all 50 states, with varying levels of success. [Time / Massimo Calabresi]
- There’s no question that this was done in an effort to try to help now-President Donald Trump get elected, which US intelligence officials surmised as far back as last summer. [NYT / Eric Lichtblau]
- What remains to be seen — and is the subject of several investigations — is whether the Trump campaign actively worked with the Russians to achieve this result.
- Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday, administration officials declined to name the states whose election systems were hacked, despite being pressed by senators. [Bloomberg / Steven Dennis, Nafeesa Syeed, and Billy House]
- Arizona and Illinois are two of the states that have publicly acknowledged their voting systems were hacked. In Illinois, hackers were able to access the data of 15 million state residents, including their names, dates of birth, genders, drivers' licenses, and partial Social Security numbers. Hackers reportedly intended to alter or delete the data. [Bloomberg / Michael Riley and Jordan Robertson]
- It’s definitely not the first time Russian hackers have tried to influence US elections, but the 2016 meddling was especially widespread, aggressive, and effective, intelligence officials told senators. [Vox / Alex Ward]
- In the wake of the hacking scandal, relations between the US and Russia have been deteriorating rapidly, especially as the US Congress tries to push tougher new sanctions on the country, to the Trump administration’s chagrin. [NYT / Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Matt Flegenheimer]
The bear necessities
- The Yellowstone grizzly bear just lost its designation as a federally protected endangered species.
- Citing a rebound in the bear population, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said today that his department would soon turn over responsibility to states including Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, where the bears roam. [NPR / Colin Dwyer]
- Federal protections ending grizzly hunting and prohibiting ranchers from shooting the bears have been in place since 1975, when there were just 135 grizzlies in the Western United States. In the years since, the bear population has shot up to more than 700. [NYT / Jim Robbins]
- Still, that’s just a fraction of the bears' original population. It’s estimated that 50,000 grizzlies populated the Western United States before the late 1800s, when hunting and trapping decimated their numbers. [AP / Matt Volz]
- The grizzly's protected status came up for debate a decade ago, but was kept in place over concerns that insects had decimated a local species of tree called whitebark pine, a main food source for the bears. [NYT / Jim Robbins]
- States are already working on plans for how they will manage the bear populations, which could include setting up new hunting seasons. With the largest swath of Yellowstone National Park acreage, Wyoming also has the largest grizzly population. [Casper Star Tribune / Christine Peterson]
- There’s been a contentious debate about how exactly to determine the number of bears. Currently wildlife management estimates by counting the numbers of mothers and cubs, and the old federal plan required there be at least 600 bears spread out around the landscape in order to determine a healthy population. [Casper Star Tribune / Christine Peterson]
- Many environmental groups opposed the move, and said they may challenge it in court. Today’s decision does not affect other large populations of grizzlies, including approximately 1,000 living in Montana’s Glacier National Park. [The Hill / Timothy Cama]
- Native American tribes are reportedly angry that they weren't consulted before the bears were taken off the federal list, after demanding the federal government include them before making a decision. [Vox / Brian Resnick]
- President Donald Trump has a $5 million stake in the nation’s largest subsidized housing complex, located in Brooklyn. As the president is making dramatic cuts to programs that subsidize housing for the poor, he’s keeping one that gives more money to private landlords like himself. [Washington Post / Shawn Boburg]
- WhatsApp messages are a popular form of communication in India. They are also fueling wild rumors and dangerous mob mentality. [NYT / Alia Allana]
- The Wall Street Journal fired its chief foreign affairs correspondent over a wild report that he helped an Iranian source broker an arms deal with foreign governments. [AP / Jeff Horwitz, Jon Gambrell, and Jack Gillum]
- The CIA fired a bunch of contractors after it found out they had managed to pull a scheme to get more than $3,000 worth of free vending machine snacks. [BuzzFeed / Jason Leopold]
- As software companies develop driverless trucks, Silicon Valley engineers and blue-collar truck drivers are logging a lot of hours on the road together. [Bloomberg / Max Chafkin and Josh Eidelson]
- “One boy in year nine wearing a skirt said the protest had started with five boys wearing skirts but he expected ‘hundreds’ to follow suit. Asked if he was enjoying the experience, he said he appreciated the 'nice breeze.'” [The Guardian / Steven Morris]
- “It wouldn’t be fair to accuse Mpungwe of racism. But the first time the 500-pound gorilla saw a white man, he did flee into the forest and succumb to an urgent bout of stress-induced diarrhea.” [WSJ / Michael Phillips]
- “We put our lives out there in the fields for a job that will never give our health back.” [The Atlantic / David Bacon]
- “I’m just a very small old country boy from Arkansas in this bigger commission with Vice President Pence, and I’m just going to do the best I can, to be honest.” [David Dunn to HuffPost / Sam Levine]
- “To the left, a tall boy in black shorts and white kicks with a face contoured and highlighted to Drag Race-level perfection twirls beside a girl with a shaved head in a slip dress. Nearby, a cluster of girls in suits chat with a boy in a dress, while another girl in a green velvet cape and flower crown, like an earth goddess, makes her way past a boy in a wheelchair dressed as Poseidon. This isn't prom; it's Anti-Prom.” [Racked / Sonya Abrego]
Listen to this: Worldly, Vox’s new foreign affairs podcast
The first episode of Worldly, Vox.com’s new foreign policy podcast, launched today! Yochi Dreazen, Jennifer Williams, and Zack Beauchamp dive into the potential for a US-Russia conflict in Syria, the dangers of giving too much power to the Pentagon, and how Trump’s least favorite European leader just got much, much stronger. Listen on Art19, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or Stitcher.