5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • Sens. Lamar Alexander, Patty Murray introduce bipartisan health-care bill

  • Trump denies tone-deaf comments about fallen soldier

  • Spanish prime minister moves to suspend Catalan autonomy

  • Senators to introduce bipartisan bill to boost internet ad transparency

  • FDA approves first gene therapy for adults with blood cancer

On Thursday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced their bipartisan health-care bill, announcing it had 11 additional Republican co-sponsors plus 11 more Democratic co-sponsors. The legislation seeks to stabilize health insurance markets by extending for two years government subsidy payments that insurance companies use to lower costs for poorer customers. "I think I might want to get a bipartisan interim deal," Alexander quoted President Trump as saying in a phone conversation last weekend; Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had come out against the bill Wednesday. Alexander said the plan could become law by the end of the year.

Source: Politico, Axios

President Trump was accused Wednesday of making the widow of a fallen American servicemember cry when he told her that her late husband, Army Sgt. La David Johnson, "knew what he signed up for." Johnson was killed in Niger earlier this month. Trump's alleged comments were initially relayed to the press by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who said she heard the conversation on speakerphone. Johnson's mother confirmed Wilson's account to The Washington Post. Trump denied the reports: "Didn't say what that congresswoman said," he told the press, while White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called it a "disgrace of the media" to describe the phone call as anything other than "an act of kindness." Trump also tweeted that he has "proof" the conversation did not go as Wilson described.

Source: Miami Herald, Politico

On Thursday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's office said it will convene a special cabinet meeting over the weekend to trigger Article 155 of the constitution to kick off a process of reining in Catalonia's regional autonomy. Rajoy had given Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont until Thursday morning to clarify if the region had declared independence or not after an Oct. 1 referendum; Puigdemont had signed a declaration of independence then suspended it, asking for talks with Madrid. Puigdemont's response was that the regional Parliament would likely approve a formal declaration of independence if Rajoy continued to shun dialogue.

Source: Reuters, BBC News

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) will introduce a bipartisan bill Thursday intended to force digital companies to be more transparent about their advertising sales. The effort was sparked by reports that Facebook sold more than $100,000 worth of ads to a Kremlin-linked Russian company during the 2016 election, while Google sold $4,700 worth of similar ads. Both companies were able to avoid disclosure rules mandated by the Federal Election Commission because political activity on the internet has been largely exempt from the regulations placed on traditional media advertising since 2006, as part of the so-called internet exemption rule. The senators' bill would require internet companies to disclose information about ad purchasers to the FEC.

Source: The New York Times, Politico

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a one-time treatment for lymphoma in adults, only the second time a gene therapy for blood cancer has been given the okay in the United States. This is the first gene therapy approved for adults, and involves removing a patient's T cells, reprogramming them to find and kill cancer cells, then putting the cells back into the patient. The treatment uses the same technology as a gene therapy recently approved in the U.S. for childhood leukemia, and will cost $373,000 per patient, its manufacturer said.

Source: The Associated Press
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