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Vox Sentences: Obamacare repeal death spiral

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 goes down in flames; Amnesty International activists are arrested in Turkey; local politicians in California and Seattle are trying to do something about the ridiculous housing costs there.

BCRA's last gasp

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • The Republican Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare is dead, and its eleventh-hour bid to repeal Obamacare with no replacement is too. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • This stunning blow to the Republican legislative agenda all happened in the past 24 hours, so let’s get up to speed. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • Last night, two Republican senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas, dealt the BCRA its final blow when they said they would not vote to proceed to debate on the bill. The BCRA had been hanging by a thread of one vote before they made the announcement. [CNN / MJ Lee, Ted Barrett, and Phil Mattingly]
  • Moran was the sleeper "no" vote. Later explaining his reasoning, the Kansas senator said he believed the BCRA was bad policy, plain and simple. He advocated going back to the drawing board. [NPR / Jim McLean]
  • Late Monday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for a vote on so-called “repeal and delay,” where Republicans would repeal the Affordable Care Act immediately and come up with a replacement later. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
  • As with the BCRA, McConnell could only afford to lose two votes on straight repeal. Over the course of today, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska all announced they would block the effort. [NYT / Thomas Kaplan]
  • From the beginning, the bill’s problem was that conservative and moderate Republicans simply couldn’t come to a consensus. Read the explainer from Vox's Dylan Scott on the persistent problems with the BCRA. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • This crushing defeat underscores an uncomfortable reality for the GOP: They have not netted any major policy wins, despite having majorities in all three branches of government. [The Atlantic / Molly Ball]
  • Their next big item is the budget, where a quieter but equally important fight is shaping up between moderates and conservatives over how dramatically to cut government spending. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • For more health care coverage, don't miss VoxCare, Vox's daily health care newsletter, edited by Sarah Kliff. Seriously, it's really good. Sign up here.

Troubling arrests in Turkey

Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • Six human rights workers have been arrested in Turkey on terrorism charges, including the director of Amnesty International Turkey, Idil Eser. [Reuters / Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay]
  • Eser and nine others were arrested while attending a human rights workshop in Istanbul earlier this month. At the time, the Turkish government said it was investigating them for the very vague-sounding allegation of “committing a crime in the name of a terrorist organization without being a member.” [Vox / Lindsay Maizland]
  • The high-profile arrests are just the latest in a string of arrests in the wake of an attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. [NPR / Peter Kenyon]
  • While arrests started out targeting coup participants, they've since broadened to any government critics and, now, human rights advocates. [Associated Press]
  • Four of the 10 original detainees were released today, but six, including Eser, were officially jailed by a Turkish court. Most are Turkish citizens, but two are Swedish and German nationals. [The Guardian / Patrick Wintour]
  • With the two Europeans being held, the European Union and Germany are promising to put extra pressure on the Turkish government to release them. Turkey has also been holding a German-Turkish journalist since February in a separate incident. [Financial Times / Guy Chazan]

The rent is too damn high

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • The tech-heavy economies on the West Coast are booming, but that is having a negative effect in one important area: housing.
  • A lot of people are moving to places like San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, where big tech is dominating the jobs market. But that glut of high-paying jobs is also forcing lower-income people out. [The Mercury News / Annie Sciacca]
  • For a sense of perspective, look at California, where the median cost of a home is an eye-popping $500,000 (double the national median). [NYT / Adam Nagourney and Conor Dougherty]
  • California’s utter lack of housing stems in part from the fact that it’s adding more jobs than housing can keep pace with. [Sacramento Bee / Angela Hart]
  • It also has to do with obscure — but important — local zoning laws, which dictate what type of buildings can be built and where they can go. Lack of housing in California has gotten so bad that state lawmakers are working on new legislation that would restrict the abilities of local communities to decide what new development can come in — and what has to stay out. [NYT / Adam Nagourney and Conor Dougherty]
  • Seattle is also trying something new and controversial to address the issue: taxing all the wealthy tech workers and putting the money into a new affordable housing fund. [KUOW / Carolyn Adolph]


  • Two years of analyzing Trump tweets reveals the president is much more effective at tearing down his opponents in 140 characters than he is at promoting policy. [NYT / Emily Badger and Kevin Quealy]
  • Around the country, local developers are pushing for municipal governments to relax public drinking laws, because shopping while buzzed is very good for business. [WSJ / Esther Fung]
  • The largest hospitals in the US fought tooth and nail to keep their tax-exempt nonprofit status intact, reasoning that they would not be able to serve as many low-income people without it. But as they collected billions in extra income, new analysis shows they did less charity care. [Politico / Dan Diamond]
  • Saudi Arabian religious authorities are questioning a woman for the crime of wearing a crop top and a miniskirt at a heritage site. She could serve jail time for the offense in the strictly religious country. [The Guardian / Matthew Weaver and Mona Mahmood]
  • The opioid crisis has been seeing deadlier synthetic drugs causing overdoses with accidental skin contact. But some medical experts say it takes more than the brush of a finger to overdose on drugs. [Philadelphia Inquirer / Marie McCullough]


  • “I’m not here about some cockamamie legacy that people talk about. This isn’t for me. I’m going to be dead. It’s for you. And it’s damn real.” [California Gov. Jerry Brown to Grist / Nathanael Johnson]
  • “In Bozeman, in Ketchum, in Jackson, in just about every destination or gateway town, one hears a similar murmur: not only are short-term rentals squeezing the last drops out of the housing supply, but more pro­foundly, they are threatening the very character that drew in locals — and tourists.” [Outside Magazine / Tom Vanderbilt]
  • “David — please stop reaching out to me. Thank you.” [Eric Trump to the Washington Post / David Fahrenthold]
  • “We too value freedom. But that’s not the freedom to own machine guns in the main streets of the U.S. of A.” [Former Australia Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer to NPR / Colin Dwyer]
  • “This goofy, Middle American dad vibe remains a major component of Sasse’s image. He gets a visible kick out of telling stories about his teenage daughter’s time working on a dairy farm, which apparently involved a great deal of contact with bovine birthing fluids, and has a Twitter account that can be funny even by normal-person standards.” [Slate / Ben Mathis-Lilley]

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What the world sounds like underwater. [YouTube / Christophe Haubursin and Dallas Taylor]

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