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Morning News Brief: Trump In Paris, GOP Wrangles Over Health Care, Turkey Coup Anniversary


We have a better idea today what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promoting in a health care bill.


That's right. This is the latest Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, and it includes two big features. First, it keeps in place some taxes for the wealthy that Republicans would rather to take away. The extra money can go to insurance subsidies. Second, it keeps big Medicaid cuts that some Republicans and all Democrats have criticized. Some Republicans are offering an alternative to this alternative. South Carolina's Lindsey Graham wants to turn Obamacare money over to the states.


LINDSEY GRAHAM: You can repair Obamacare if you think it needs to be repaired. You can replace it if you think it needs to be replaced. It will be up to the governors. They've got a better handle on this than any bureaucrat in Washington.

INSKEEP: So that's one of the ideas to change this other, larger bill that's out there. NPR's congressional correspondent Susan Davis is with us once again. Sue, good morning.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK, so McConnell just released the bill, but a couple of senators really don't like it. Is it still even alive?

DAVIS: It absolutely is. You know, the two Republicans, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine, have said they're a hard no on this bill. Mitch McConnell always knew he was going to lose two, so now he knows which two they are.

INSKEEP: He can only lose two, right?

DAVIS: Two. There's only 52 Republicans, so he needs 50 of them. And this has always been a balancing act between getting enough conservatives and moderates onboard. And one of the encouraging signs yesterday was one of those conservatives, Ted - Senator Ted Cruz has spoken positively about this bill and has indicated if the final draft is current to this one, he's likely to vote for it.


TED CRUZ: It's not the ideal bill I'd like to pass. I suspect there may not be a single senator for whom it's the ideal bill they'd like to pass, but it does represent a bill that reflects the concerns expressed across the conference. I think that's how we actually come together and honor our promise to repeal Obamacare.

DAVIS: So the focus now is on the moderate wing of the party. Names to listen for - Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, two senators who have been really skeptical about what this bill does. And their votes are now necessary.

INSKEEP: And now, they haven't spoken yet, but Dean Heller was really strong in saying the previous bill was terrible for Nevada. Does this bill seem to address the things he said was wrong with the last one?

DAVIS: Well, the key sticking point is Medicaid, Medicaid, Medicaid. I mean, that is really the issue here. Aside from what the bill does to the individual market, it is a radical reshaping of the medical - Medicaid program. And that is an issue for senators that might just be too much for them to accept, particularly as a lot of their governors, like Brian Sandoval of Nevada, have come out against this bill. And a lot of Republican governors, and Democrats for that matter, don't want to be on the other side of their governors if they're in the same party.

INSKEEP: I want to mention that President Trump has been tweeting this morning, even earlier than usual because, you know, he's in France. And he has the advantage of the time zone. Tweeting today, among other things - multiple tweets - so important that Republican senators under leadership of Senate Majority Leader McConnell get health care plan approved. Does that mean the president likes this bill?

DAVIS: Absolutely. Although, I think it is important remember with this White House, this has never really been a policy fight. This has been a political fight. The White House has kind of taken a back seat to what this bill does, but they want to win. They want the president to be able to say he signed a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. It is their No. 1 priority at this moment.

GREENE: But I wonder, Sue, what exactly the president does. Does he want the win? Or does he actually dive in and spend the political capital to try and get the win? And that's always such a big calculation for any White House in moments like this.

INSKEEP: Good point. That's NPR's Susan Davis with us once again. Susan, thanks very much.

DAVIS: Have a great day.


INSKEEP: Hey, this is the day in 1789, when people in France stormed a prison called the Bastille. Now, Bastille Day is a time for French soldiers to march up the Champs-Elysees, watched by President Emmanuel Macron.

GREENE: And also watched by his guest, President Donald Trump of the United States. He took in the sights of Paris and told Brigitte Macron, the president's wife, that she was in great shape. He also sounded open to President Macron's views on climate change. He was asked about the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord. And Trump hinted that he might be open to reconsidering that move.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord. We'll see what happens.

INSKEEP: Well, let's see what's happening now. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley has a first-row seat for the official visit. She's on the line from Paris. Hi, Eleanor.


INSKEEP: So you told us that there would be a lot of grandeur for President Trump to take in, by design. So how is he going to finish up this trip?

BEARDSLEY: Oh, my gosh. Steve, this is the crowning moment of his trip. A spectacular military parade coming down the Champs-Elysees right now. President Trump is watching it next to President Macron. You know, four Mirage jets accompanied by two American F-22 just flew over. American troops are leading it off from all four service branches. And at the head of that is five American soldiers dressed as World War I doughboys.

So it's absolutely spectacular. We're reminded of America entering World War I, big tribute to America today. And I think - the French commentators are talking about how Trump looks very excited and happy. So I think he likes it.

INSKEEP: OK, he's somebody who likes a big show. And they're putting on a big show. They're not doing it just - you know, just for hospitality. They want things out of President Trump. Is there any sign that Emmanuel Macron is getting very much out of President Trump?

BEARDSLEY: Well, you know, Steve, I would say the biggest thing that has come out of this visit is, despite the deep ideological differences between these two presidents, they seem to have forged a close personal relationship. There has not been a false note on this trip. OK, as you said, Macron has rolled out a huge welcome. He's playing on Trump's sensibilities with a lot of military pomp. Trump got a military honor yesterday at Napoleon's tomb. And, of course, the two presidential couples dined in the Eiffel Tower last night.

But everyone's been watching their body language. And they seem to genuinely appreciate each other, clapping each other on the back. And at a news conference yesterday, they played up all the areas of, you know, cooperation and just fighting terrorism, security and play down any differences.

INSKEEP: They dined in the Eiffel Tower. I'm just guessing. You know, it's Paris. It's probably a pretty good meal, wouldn't you think?

BEARDSLEY: I think so.

INSKEEP: You would think so (laughter).


INSKEEP: So then, has Emmanuel Macron succeeded in making himself a link between President Trump and the European Union, which he has criticized - President Trump has criticized so much?

BEARDSLEY: Right. Well, you know, Macron was criticized for inviting Trump after the U.S. pulled out of the Paris climate accord. But Macron said it's important to keep the U.S. within the circle of nations, engaged and does - you know, we cannot let America turn away, turn inward. So analysts also are saying that Trump was feeling a bit isolated internationally. And so at this moment, he accepted Macron's invitation.

This trip has been rich in symbolism of the centuries-long Franco-American alliance. And, you know, Trump - President Trump yesterday even spoke about how France has been helping America since way back in the Revolution. So, you know, I'd say even if relations are a little bit difficult with the European Union and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Trump knows he now has a friend in President Macron.

GREENE: This is a relationship to watch. I mean, I think history shows us that some of the most impactful, diplomatic relationships are between leaders, among leaders who don't necessarily agree on things. So this is going to be fascinating.

INSKEEP: And let's hear one of the last things that the two leaders said together in a joint press conference.


TRUMP: You're going to have a very, very peaceful and beautiful Paris. And I'm coming back.


PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON: And you're always welcome.

INSKEEP: They'll always have Paris.

GREENE: He likes Paris now (laughter).

INSKEEP: Indeed, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, thanks very much.

BEARDSLEY: You're welcome.


INSKEEP: OK. Tomorrow, the government of Turkey plans to mark an event that shook that nation and, perhaps, has taken it down a road away from democracy.

GREENE: Yeah, we're talking about that attempted coup a year ago, when members of the military tried to oust Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The clashes that ensued killed more than 240 civilians. And, of course, Erdogan reacted with vast emergency laws, tens of thousands of arrests and many more firings.

INSKEEP: NPR's Peter Kenyon has covered events for the whole year since then. And he's on the line. Peter, how has Turkey changed?

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Well, a series of changes, I'd say. I mean, first, there was this big shock, this realization that the days of military coups here that - thought were ended in the past century were still going on or were still possible. Then there was this kind of wave of exhilaration at seeing ordinary Turks stop a military uprising. And then, of course, life's been dominated ever since by this massive purge, this crackdown on dissent - 140,000 fired, more than 50,000 facing charges. That's still ongoing.

This weekend, tomorrow night, Erdogan's going to be on a bridge crossing the Bosphorus. The president will also give a speech at 2:30 in the morning, Sunday, recalling his request a year ago to get civilians out on the streets. So it's going to be a busy weekend.

INSKEEP: And a mixed moment from the perspective of Americans. You know, we would like to believe in democracy. You'd like to see a military coup fail, all things being equal. But then, of course, in the aftermath, the countries seem to be less and less democratic. So what is the government saying now as the anniversary arrives?

KENYON: Well, internally, it's saying, look, everything's on track. We're eradicating the threat of future coups, getting back to normal life. Externally, still a lot of anger at the West for being slow to support the elected government after the coup. And Mr. Erdogan's also rejecting calls for any quick end to the state of emergency and all these decrees. I mean, he talked about that this week. Here's a bit of what he said in Turkish. I'll give you the translation.



KENYON: Now, he's saying here, Turkey will not allow the West to decide the time frame of the emergency laws. We can do that ourselves. Where will it end, he says, well, when the threat's over once and for all. So don't look for this to be stopped any time soon.

INSKEEP: And Turkey's still working with the United States, well enough, in Syria and other areas?

KENYON: Well - well enough, I suppose. It's a key player in a number of big, difficult issues but troublesome in many ways in the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Turkey's been on opposite sides from the U.S. at times. It's taken Qatar's side in this dispute in the Persian Gulf. And where it goes from here is something a lot of people are going to be watching.

INSKEEP: Peter, thanks very much.

KENYON: You're welcome, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Peter Kenyon.

(SOUNDBITE OF EVIL NEEDLE'S "VIBIN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.