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Friday News: Turtle tries fancy footwork, loses race

MCCONNELL SWINGS AND MISSES ON "SKINNY" REPEAL EFFORT THANKS TO JOHN MCCAIN: Dealing a serious blow to President Donald Trump's agenda, the Senate early Friday rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama's health care law after a night of high suspense in the U.S. Capitol. Unable to pass even a so-called "skinny repeal," it was unclear if Senate Republicans could advance any health bill despite seven years of promises to repeal "Obamacare." "This is clearly a disappointing moment," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "I regret that our efforts were not enough, this time." McConnell put the health bill on hold and announced that the Senate would move onto other legislation next week.

Thursday News: The usual suspects

REPUBLICANS BRING HOFELLER BACK TO HELP DESIGN NEW MAPS: Republican leaders have tapped a familiar consultant to help with the drawing of new districts for electing General Assembly members after maps he drew six years ago were found by the federal courts to include illegal racial gerrymanders. Tom Hofeller, a seasoned GOP mapmaker and a chief architect of the 2011 N.C. maps, is working with legislative leaders again on how to create new districts that will pass muster. Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican and House redistricting leader, informed a group of legislators on Wednesday of Hofeller’s return to a process that could determine how the state is divided into political districts for the rest of the decade. Hofeller was profiled in The Atlantic magazine in 2012 in an article titled “The League of Dangerous Mapmakers.”

Wednesday News: Turncoats


BURR AND TILLIS VOTE TO MOVE FORWARD ON DAMAGING HEALTHCARE LEGISLATION: Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina voted to proceed with debate on Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, keeping alive their party’s attempt to keep a long-standing campaign promise. Republicans needed ailing Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who recently was diagnosed with brain cancer, to return to Washington to get to 50 votes, allowing Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote to move forward with debate. Two Republicans – Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski – voted against the motion to proceed as did all 48 senators who caucus with Democrats.

Tuesday News: Getting out while the getting's good


CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER QUITS UNDER TREASURER DALE FOLWELL: Kevin SigRist, the chief investment officer for the $94 billion state pension fund the past four years, has unexpectedly resigned. Folwell has cut fees paid to outside money managers by more than $60 million on an annualized basis, easily exceeding his campaign promise to slash fees by $100 million during the course of his four-year term. In conjunction with that cost-cutting, Folwell has shifted billions of dollars previously invested in stocks into investment-grade bonds and cash – for example, investing in things such as short-term U.S. Treasury bills. At times, according to internal memos reviewed by The News & Observer, Folwell has overruled the recommendations of the pension fund’s investment staff in shifting those funds out of stocks. Critics say the pension fund’s potential returns are being reduced because stocks typically outperform bonds and cash.

Monday News: Channeling Goebbels?

TRUMP'S NEW PRESS SECRETARY SCARAMUCCI HINTS AT PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN: President Donald Trump's new communications adviser says it's time to hit the "reset button." Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci pledged to begin "an era of a new good feeling" and said he hopes to "create a more positive mojo." He also promised to crack down on information leaks and pledged to better focus the message coming from the White House. To that end, Scaramucci suggested changes to come, noting: "I have in my pocket a radio studio, a television studio, and a movie studio. The entire world has changed; we need to rethink the way we're delivering our information."

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


GOVERNOR COOPER MUST MAKE SAFE WATER TOP PRIORITY: Even amid the General Assembly’s efforts to shrink and minimize the regulatory authority of state agencies, it remains a basic function of government to assure the safety of its citizens – in this case that the water they drink won’t kill them. The Cooper administration needs to remain vigilant and be sure the advisory board fulfills its mandate. Regan and Secretary Mandy Cohen, his counterpart in the Department of Health and Human Services, need to work together, openly, so citizens are assured the rules and regulations are established in an open and transparent matter. Further, the first priority is public safety not the political posture of any public officials or the financial interests of powerful companies.

Saturday News: Sweet little lies


ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS DID HAVE CONVERSATION ABOUT TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR: Ambassador Sergey Kislyak's accounts of two conversations with Sessions - then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump - were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign. "I did not have communications with the Russians," Sessions said when asked whether anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign had communicated with representatives of the Russian government.

Friday News: Petty partisan politics

GOP CUTS TO JOSH STEIN'S STAFF COULD MAKE ITS MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has spent the past several weeks asking other state agencies to contribute money from their budgets to pay for the work of assistant attorneys general who might have to be laid off to comply with a surprise $10 million budget cut. Stein, a Democrat and former state senator from Wake County, found out shortly before the new fiscal year began July 1 that his office would lose that state money. Legislative leaders didn’t call his office, he said, to talk about a proposal that showed up only in the final version of the state budget after not being included in either the state House or Senate spending plans.

Thursday News: Nine months late


ROBERT PITTENGER ANGRY BECAUSE HIS INCOMPETENCE IS POINTED OUT: Cooper requested $929 million in aid from the federal government’s latest funding bill in April. Congress approved $8.2 billion for emergency and disaster relief as part of the $1 trillion spending deal, but HUD awarded North Carolina only $6.1 million – less than 1 percent of Cooper’s request – setting off a minor partisan squabble in what has been a largely bipartisan effort to deliver dollars for North Carolina. Cooper, a Democrat, called it “an incredible failure by the Trump administration and congressional leaders to turn their backs.” “Shame on the governor,” said Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger, whose district includes Robeson County and the majority of Cumberland and Bladen counties. “(Cooper) threw us under the bus like we weren’t doing our job.”

Wednesday News: Breaking Moscow rules


TRUMP HAD SECOND AND MORE CONFIDENTIAL MEETING WITH PUTIN AT G20: President Donald Trump had a second and previously undisclosed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin while both were in Germany for the G20 meeting. The White House has confirmed that Trump and Putin spoke on July 7 at the end of a social dinner, a less formal diplomatic encounter. Trump reportedly left his seat at the table halfway through the meal and sat in an empty chair next to Putin, with Putin’s translator the only other person around. No formal readout of the encounter was distributed by the White House, where officials said the only account of the meeting in Hamburg came from Trump himself. The issues discussed have not been disclosed, but the meeting is likely to stoke concerns over Trump’s affinity for Putin.


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