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Vox Sentences: Cry me a river

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

The Senate health care bill gets delayed; the Trump administration starts rolling back more Obama-era environmental regulations; Venezuela's supreme court survives a helicopter attack.

Not dead yet

Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is having a rough week. Late yesterday, he announced the procedural vote on the Senate health care bill would be pushed back to an undetermined time after Congress’s Fourth of July recess as it failed to garner enough support among members of his own party. [NPR / Arnie Seipel]
  • Less than a week after the bill was introduced for the first time, the legislation was dealt a crippling blow as Senate Republicans (conservatives and moderates alike) said they could not support it in its current form. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • However, the bill isn’t completely doomed yet, because the draft legislation contains $200 billion that McConnell could theoretically add to appease moderates. He could also potentially get rid of more of Obamacare mandates that conservatives are looking for. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • But striking that balance between moderate and far-right Republicans is going to be tricky, and McConnell can only afford to lose two votes.
  • The fight now is squarely between Senate Republicans. This week, moderate senators including Susan Collins of Maine and Dean Heller of Nevada said they could not support a bill that included such steep cuts to Medicaid and would cause an additional 22 million to lose health insurance, per the latest CBO score. [CNN / Ashley Killough and Ted Barrett]
  • More conservative senators came out against the bill for very different reasons; Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and Rand Paul of Kentucky said they thought the bill was too similar to Obamacare, the very law it’s meant to overturn. [CNN / Ashley Killough and Ted Barrett]
  • Senate leadership is reportedly hard at work drafting a new bill with a Friday deadline, and a new CBO score could potentially come by next week. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
  • Throughout the process, McConnell made some tactical errors of his own, such as excluding Republican senators including Collins and Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy — both known for their health care knowledge — from the early working group that drafted the bill. [NYT / Jennifer Steinhauer]
  • President Trump has also been less effective whipping votes in the Senate than he was with House members. [NYT / Glenn Thrush / Jonathan Martin]
  • Two new polls out today suggest the Senate bill is extremely unpopular with the public, with just 17 percent of people saying they approved of the bill in one poll, and 12 percent saying they approved in another. [USA Today / Susan Page and Emma Kinery]
  • This unpopularity has been reflected in a rise of protests against the bill. Protesters, including those in wheelchairs, have been staking out Senate offices in Washington and across the country. [Washington Post / Perry Stein]
  • Holiday recesses are generally a time for members of Congress to meet with their constituents, but a very scant number of senators are doing so around the Fourth of July. [Vox / Jeff Stein]

POTUS gets rid of WOTUS

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  • The Trump administration is starting the process of rolling back more Obama-era environmental rules that protect about half of America’s streams from pollution. [AP / John Flesher and Michael Biesecker]
  • On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it was taking the first step in withdrawing the 2015 "Waters of the US" rule, which basically told the federal government which streams across the country were important enough to be protected by the Clean Water Act. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • Undoing the rule is more of a symbolic move than a concrete change. The regulation never went into effect, because its opponents quickly sued over the rule and it was mired in a court battle. That case is ongoing, with the Supreme Court expected to hear arguments later this year. [The Hill / Timothy Cama]
  • On paper, the legal fight over the Waters of the US rule is about states' rights and federal overreach. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and many others have characterized the effort to overturn the rule as returning environmental oversight to individual states. Pruitt himself sued the Obama administration over the rule when he was still Oklahoma’s attorney general. [E&E News / Ariel Wittenberg]
  • There are also a lot of businesses and energy and agriculture entities that hated the rule and pushed back hard against it, because it could have made it more difficult for developments and pipelines to be constructed. [Politico / Jenny Hopkinson]
  • But the process to complete the regulation rollbacks will take much more effort than the stroke of a pen; Pruitt first has to go through the arduous federal rulemaking process. [Wikipedia]
  • Pruitt can’t just get rid of the rules altogether with nothing in their place; he has to come up with his own regulation, open it up to an extensive public comment period, and defend it in court. [Brad Plumer / Vox]
  • This is the latest in a number of Obama-era regulations getting scaled back. It’s different from another rule Trump repealed through Congress that had kept mining companies from dumping coal waste into local streams. Like the Waters of the US rule, that regulation was also meant to give laws some teeth to fight pollution. [Vox / Brad Plumer]

When helicopters attack

World Leaders Address The UN General Assembly Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
  • Government buildings in Caracas, Venezuela, were attacked by rogue members of that country’s police force this morning, who dropped grenades and shot gunfire from a helicopter hovering over the country’s supreme court and Interior Ministry. No one was injured in the attack. [BBC News]
  • A man named Oscar Perez later claimed responsibility in a video. Perez is an officer in Venezuela’s investigative police force and claimed to be speaking for a group composed of members of the military, police, and government officials. [CNN / Natalie Gallón, Lonzo Cook, and Laura Smith-Spark]
  • Surrounded by masked men in the video, Perez read off a statement, calling on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to leave office and saying the attack was an attempt to reclaim power for the people. Government officials are still searching for Perez. [CNN / Natalie Gallón, Lonzo Cook, and Laura Smith-Spark]
  • Maduro was quick to condemn the incident as a terrorist attack and an attempted coup to take away his power, saying he was mobilizing government forces in response. [NYT / Ernesto Londono and Nicholas Casey]
  • But Maduro’s political foes said they suspected the attack could have been a setup, potentially staged to give the controversial president reason to expand his powers even further. [Reuters / Andrew Cawthorne and Brian Ellsworth]
  • Some opposition leaders noted the timing of the attack came just a few hours after Maduro promised he and his supporters would be ready to take up arms against “undemocratic” forces that oppose him. [The Guardian / Virginia López]
  • The latest incident follows a months-long constitutional crisis in the rapidly destabilizing country.
  • In March, Venezuela's supreme court (filled with Maduro loyalists) executed a major power shift, taking away power from the country’s National Assembly and expanding the president’s powers tremendously. After an outcry, they partially reversed the ruling, but still left Maduro with the power to bypass the legislature if he chooses. [Vox / Pedro Rosas]
  • As Maduro consolidates more power, Venezuela’s economy and quality of life continue to plummet. The country is experiencing inflation, food shortages, and a high murder rate. Even though it’s an oil-rich nation, it is also rife with mismanagement and corruption. [The Atlantic / Moises Naim and Francisco Toro]
  • Frustration with the government has been at dangerous levels for months, and even as the helicopter attack dominated headlines, recent days have also seen a total of 68 supermarkets, pharmacies, and liquor stores being looted, plus several government offices torched as anti-government protests continue in the neighboring city of Maracay. [AP / Joshua Goodman]


  • There are plenty of real Time magazine covers featuring Donald Trump. But there's also a fake one that hangs in at least two of his resorts. [Washington Post / David Fahrenthold]
  • Researchers believe they have found the location of Ashkenaz, the ancient birthplace of the Yiddish language. They believe it originated in northeastern Turkey, rather than Germany. [The Conversation / Eran Elhaik]
  • Fecal transplants are becoming increasingly popular for replenishing gut bacteria. Though they're often used to treat a form of colitis, more people want to use them for other medical issues, including Crohn’s disease and even autism. But there’s a strict FDA ban on the procedure. [BuzzFeed / Nidhi Subbaraman]
  • Like many other Western countries where right-wing populism has taken hold, Canada is mostly white and experiencing an uptick in immigration. However, the country’s cultural emphasis on inclusion is proving to be stronger than the populist wave sweeping other nations. [NYT / Amanda Taub]
  • Sarah Palin is suing the New York Times for defamation, after the paper wrote an editorial linking one of her old Super PAC ads to an uptick in gun violence. [NPR / Doreen McCallister]


  • “I cannot speak to any airline policies, but TSA has no prohibition on transporting lobsters. It’s actually fairly common in the New England region.” [Michael McCarthy to Boston Globe / Steve Annear]
  • “There are some locations that act as crossroads — you’re going to find all kinds of people in city life moving in that space, and I think 16th Street, particularly where the Woodner is, is a great example of a ‘cosmopolitan canopy.’ This is an entire cultural landscape, a microcosm of the city in many ways.” [Izetta Autumn Mobley to CityLab / Tanvi Misra]
  • “According to the Transformers writers room — comprised, no doubt, of one half-finished Monster energy drink, a rejected Ken doll, and whichever Chainsmoker scored lower on the AP World History exam — Albert Einstein and Frederick Douglass were card-carrying members of the Order, and it’s implied that the bots have secretly fought on the morally correct side in most of the famous wars in human history. And then, Transformers: The Last Knight really goes for it: Another member of the Order, Hopkins mentions, was none other than Harriet Tubman.” [Vulture / Hunter Harris]
  • "Women can't get pregnant without sperm." [Sen. Bill Cassidy to Dave Weigel via Twitter]
  • “Swedish Death Cleansing, or Dostadning, is strictly for the living and appears to offer all the fun of dying without actually doing so.” [The Guardian / Danuta Kean]

Watch this: Harry Potter and the translator’s nightmare

Accio Harry Potter translations! [YouTube / Gina Barton]

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